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Spontaneity is a big part of Stereolab's approach to making music

Among the most critically acclaimed and widely known of experimental bands, Stereolab combines thoughtful social commentary with breathtakingly lush atmospheres and catchy yet visionary lounge pop. We caught up with guitarist Tim Gane in Washington, D.C., on the first leg of the band's national tour.

Westword: What ideas, musical and otherwise, did you explore on Chemical Chords that you perhaps did not on previous releases?

Tim Gane: On Margerine Eclipse, I decided to write two versions of the song — one on one speaker, the other on the other speaker — and you get a third version when you play both speakers. On this record, I tried the idea of recording just rhythms and then writing the chords, and then playing the two together to see how the rhythms would influence the chords or the chords influence the rhythms. I wanted to listen to the music as though someone else had written it, as though I wasn't completely in control of it. I was responding to it like a listener, but obviously I'm making the decision at the end about whether or not it sounds good. The point is to try to loosen up control over things, because I realize I have a certain way of writing chords or whatever, and I'm always trying to sort of upset that a little bit.

Is there anything you hope to accomplish as a musician that you haven't yet?

You know, I'm really living in the present. My concerns are really in terms of the moment. As far as outside of music, it's stuff involving people I know — my son, my wife. In terms of the music itself, I like to keep things spontaneous. It's a similar question to "Is there anyone you really want to work with?" I always think, "No, not really." I mean, if something comes up in the moment, yeah, I'll do it. But I'm not so secretly hankering for working with Dr. Dre or something like that. With things like ambition, I don't have any, really. It must sound weird to say that, but in music itself, I want to get the most from it and make something interesting for everybody and myself.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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