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Ratatat Are As Introverted As Ever

The hip hop-loving New York instrumental trio on touring with bands like Bjork and Daft Punk.

Ratatat, New York's best hip hop-loving instrumental trio, are known for being a bit odd. And indeed Mike Stroud, Evan Mast, and new member Jacob Morris begin our interview with the confession that they like solitary confinement and hate things like "socializing", "talking about yourself", and "Arnold Palmers". “Arnold Palmers?” “Yeah, it’s an American thing. Check it out. We don’t fuck with Arnold Palmer’s, if you want iced tea, buy iced tea.” It doesn't look like the "weird introverts" mystique is going to be shifted today.

“You feel the emotions in the music as you’re making it, but it’s impossible to know where those emotions come from,” says Stroud, without a question being asked. And suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of a cryptic unmediated tête-à-tête. Remaining ambiguous at best about the facts – how they met (“It just happened”), where the name comes from (“We liked it”) or whether their superfluous openness about hallucinations is the outcome of a marriage with, shall we say, recreational substances (“I’m not interested in acid”) – we finally hit on something when I mention their touring with some of music’s finest. Bjork, Daft Punk, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, CSS, The Killers… “Yeah, we get to see so much music doing this, so when something stands out it’s really inspiring. I saw The Boredoms the other night and it blew my mind. I didn’t turn away from the stage for even a moment during the whole set. It made me want to completely rethink our approach to live shows.” So competition and a band of superlative peers are helping them grow? “Of course. I’m not happy with anything unless I feel it’s a real improvement on its predecessor. Seeing people do great things inspires us to do better. We don’t balk at competition, we revel in it.”

Ratatat will begin their full US and Europe tour in September.