Sleigh Bells Interview
Shauna Alexander | Jul 2, 2010 | 6:00AM |

Yeah,  Creator’s Project was awesome.  Part of the greatness of the event was getting to sit down for a few minutes, open forum Q&A style (moderated by Shane Smith of Vice Magazine) with the super-hip/ultra-cool band-of-the-moment, Sleigh Bells.  I mean, I used to think only Elvis Presley could pull off the “wearing sunglasses while indoors” look but guitarist, Derek Miller, and, singer, Alexis Krauss have definitely give that theory a run for it’s money.

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Longtime comedian Paul Rodriguez has been making audiences laugh all over the world (in Spanish and English) for nearly three decades with his unique brand of humor that is a perfect blend of his Latin heritage, the American dream and his undeniable universal appeal. As an actor and comedian, Paul Rodriguez’s multi-faceted career includes starring roles and featured appearances in over 45 films and countless television series and comedy specials. Voted one of the most influential Hispanics in America and awarded the Ruben Salazar Award by The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, Rodriguez has remained a constant force in his community and the world of comedy throughout his career. Rodriguez's film credits include "Without Men" with Eva Longoria and Christian Slater; "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore;" "The Deported," "I’m Not Like That No More"with comedian Felipe Esparza (2010 "Last Comic Standing" winner), Disney’s blockbuster hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "The World’s Fastest Indian," "A Cinderella Story," "How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass," "Ali," "Tortilla Soup," "Crocodile Dundee in LA," "Rat Race," "Bloodwork," "Chasing Papi"and "D.C. Cab," among others. The multifaceted entertainer recently wrote and performed his first-ever one-man show "Just for the Record," which is now available on DVD. In this tell-all theatrical piece, Rodriguez takes audiences on a journey through his remarkable life, including his childhood in Mexico, to his family's move to Compton, California (where he grew up), his illustrious career and the significant relationships and moments that helped shape his life along the way. Rodriguez has hosted several hit series, including the entertainment talk show "El Show de Paul Rodriguez," an entertainment talk show for Univision which reached over 50 markets throughout the United States and an international audience in over 17 countries in Central and South America. His additional hosting credits include the The NCLR ALMA Awards, The Tejano Music Awards, Showtime’s Latino Laugh Festival and his own television specials "Back to School" and "Behind Bars." He recently hosted "Mis Videos Locos with Paul Rodriguez” on Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más. As an accomplished writer, director and producer for television, motion pictures and feature shows, Rodriguez has several hit projects to his credit including the comedy concert film "The Original Latin Kings of Comedy," which he executive produced and starred in along with Cheech Marin, George Lopez and Carlos Mencia; the feature film "A Million to Juan,"which he also wrote, directed and starred in; six comedy specials for HBO including "Loco Slam, " "Live in San Quentin" and "Idiots and Armadillos." As executive producer, he recently struck comedy again with his Comedy Central stand-up concert DVD, “Comedy Rehab.” In addition to his many hit comedy specials in English, Rodriguez has the distinguished credit of performing the first-ever one-hour standup comedy special in Spanish, "Dime Con Quien Andas,"for Telemundo. Among his many credits, Rodriguez has also made guest appearances on several Late Night shows including "The Wanda Sykes Show,""The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Last Call with Carson Daly,"and "Politically Incorrect." Additionally, he has guest starred in several television series including "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," "Shaken Not Stirred," DIRECTV’s"S upreme Court of Comedy,"Showtime's original series "Resurrection Boulevard"and"American Family." He has also lent his voice to popular animated series including "King of the Hill,""Dora the Explorer" and "The Proud Family." Rodriguez’s first big break came while doing comedy warm-ups for Norman Lear's show "Gloria."Lear ultimately wrote and developed a weekly series for Rodriguez entitled "a.k.a. Pablo," which is enshrined at the Smithsonian and holds the distinct honor for being the first television show about a Mexican American family on mainstream American television.
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Having met in 2008, the band hails from Brooklyn, with Derek coming from former hardcore band Poison The Well and with Alexis having sung in the pop group Rubyblue as a teenager.   Their set-up is similar to another two-person band I fucking adore (ahem) and they play to a backing track of music from a Macbook Pro, making the only live elements be their guitar work and vocals.  No doubt you’ve heard the track “Rill Rill (Ring Ring)” at some point this spring/summer if you’ve managed to leave your house at all.  Their shows are known for their high energy and radical antics, so it was much to my surprise to see how down to earth and humble these two were.

And if you didn’t get the memo, they’re playing a sold-out show at RNR Hotel tonight.  Scalp them tickets, kids!

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Why did Vice & Intel ask Sleigh Bells to be a part of The Creator’s Project and vice versa?
SHANE (of Vice): Because Sleigh Bells are hot.  Sleigh Bells are an amazing band and there’s not any sort of requirement for Creator’s to use technology, despite what it may seem, they’re just great creators.  They create great music.  And we have some of the best bands in the world right now, and they’re one of them.

DEREK:  Wow, thank you.  No pressure.  But… I think it’s just really great company to be in.  It’s a great opportunity and it’s the mix as well… you have like Interpol and Die Antwood and then the “special guest” [M.I.A] , you know.  Any opportunity to play with bands in different genres is always amazing, because that’s how it should be.

ALEXIS: You know we’re also stoked to be here with Spike Jonze who’s been a big, big supporter.  We’re in New York right now, we’ve had a couple weeks off and it’s so great to come home and be a part of this mini-festival that’s sorta so self contained but yet still successful and accessible… full of creativity.

DEREK:  Yeah, I mean there was no reason to say no.  It’s incredibly flattering.

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How has it been working with M.I.A, since you guys are on her N.E.E.T label? How is the collaboration?

DEREK: She’s rad, man.  I mean, I feel like she… well, we’re both big fans of her work. We definitely did not expect it.  You’ve got to realize that we had like ten people listening to our band…. our neighbors, our friends..

ALEXIS: Our parents!

DEREK: Yeah, they approached us really early on in the process.  It was a very pleasant surprise.  You just never know when you’re starting out a band if it’s going to be good or if it’s going to be shit.  She’s just been very encouraging.  M.I.A’s got this strange approach to pop music… it’s really inspiring. I feel like I think we have that in common. Ultimately it’s pop music, what we do.  She’s great, fun to work with.

Speaking of the idea of pop music, did the band become heavier as you evolved your sound or did you start out with that aim?

DEREK:  You know it’s actually getting heavier, what Alexis and I are doing.  The newer songs, like the first song on the record which is called “Tell ‘Em” I has this intense melody on it. I was afraid to do it for so long because I had abandoned heavy drone for a few years.  But it was just there, always in the background and I was just craving it.  It just took awhile for us to understand how the melodies and sounds would work together in a heavier frame.  Like should we be using a double kick or something. But, yeah it’s sorta heavier. I see us going farther than that directionally.

ALEXIS: Yeah, the melodies are built upon themselves. We just played with options.

DEREK: And we definitely castrated it. The problem I have with heavy music is that it tends to be more about the theme and the aesthetic and all the fight and macho-ness,  it gets kinda boring.  It seems to translate well in the live setting.

Did you guys have a struggle on how to get the vocals to match the melodies you had written?

ALEXIS: I think that’s our sound.  You know, I have this very light pop voice so that’s what happens when that’s what I’m bringing to the table.  So yeah, no doubt, there are going to be some times where you still have to push yourself and you’re not going to be comfortable.

DEREK: Yeah, we’re still learning but we’re figuring it out.

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Have you had a chance to interact with any of the other artists involved in Creator’s or elsewhere?

DEREK: Yeah, you kinda run into people… we just chatted with Nick Zinner who’s installation is really, really nice.  But yeah.

ALEXIS: It’s nice because this is super casual, so you see people in passing and can easily say hello.

DEREK: I’ve heard ATP [All Tomorrow’s Parties] is like that.  The musicians are at the bar with the fans and that’s great as well.  It’s just not an opportunity that often happens.  I mean I don’t want to be off in my own wing, sitting around, looking at my phone.  It’s not a lot of fun.

What do you hope to take away from being a part of Creator’s Project?

DEREK:  I think the obvious note is that we just want to have a great time.  We’re incredibly excited to be here.

ALEXIS:  Yeah, we’re still such a new band that it’s nice to be around making art for people in cool spaces.

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Comments:
Recent Comments:
  • Editor says:

    During the introduction, you used the word “give” and I think it should have been “given”. I got stuck on it, re-read about ten times… maybe I’m slow.

    If I’m right, please dear lord somebody contact me and ask me to write for brightyoungthings. I’m hilarious and I need a job.

    -Eric

  • Tracy says:

    Great interview and photos. Creators was all kinds of hot sexy.

  • Deb says:

    Shauna – we had such different NY experiences. Thanks for bringing us along for yours. Can’t wait to catch these guys tonight.