Being Cool Is Lonely Talks Love, Old-School Electronica, and Andy Rourke of the Smiths' Welcome Intrusion
In this week's issue of Phoenix New Times, we profiled 10 new(ish) bands we expect to dominate Phoenix iPods and boomboxes this long, hot summer. We'll be focusing more deeply on those artists over the next couple of days on Up on the Sun.
See the entire list: 10 Phoenix Bands You Should Be Listening to This Summer
In the late '80s, Keith Walker was rocking it (and a sweet orange-toned mullet) with Power of Dreams, an Irish pop rock band that British taste-making magazine NME once named as one of its "stars of tomorrow." Power of Dreams' chiming pop melodies were a far cry from the dark, synth-ridden sex party that was taking place in London's seedy underground, where Depeche Mode and New Order were mastering the delicate concoction of leather and drum machines.
Fast forward a few decades and Walker, now drumming for Tempe indie rockers Sister Cities, is downing a bottle of Jameson with Andy Rourke of The Smiths and William "Fucking" Reed, the hipster DJ king of Phoenix, celebrating a successful guest appearance at Reed's weekly dance night Sticky Fingers. His future girlfriend and musical partner, Tiffe Fermaint, was just seats away. It was the night that sparked a relationship, both musically and romantically (Rourke and Reed excluded from the later).
The pair formed Being Cool Is Lonely, which skillfully combines the sounds of '80s synth pop with sexual shades of nu disco and electronica, with songs like the tingly-in-the-pants, moaning epic "Your Love" and "Find You," a meant-to-be ditty that would be too sweet if it didn't have a healthy dose of "fuck you," too.
Up On the Sun: So here's the unavoidable question. You and Tiffe are in a relationship. How does being in a relationship affect your songwriting? Does it help or hinder you in any particular way?
Walker: Honestly, it's affected my songwriting in a very positive way. I feel she has broadened my horizons as a writer and turned me onto new music that's been an influence on what we're doing. All my previous bands [and] music projects have always been music only, so making music -- sweet, beautiful music -- with Tiffe has been very fresh and exciting for me.
What do you and Tiffe each bring to the table that winds up blending into your sound?
We both have quite similar musical taste, and I feel that's a huge factor in the sound we are creating. I feel we both bring ingredients that are essential to our sound. I play multiple instruments keys/drums/guitar/bass and I sing. Everything we do is live; we don't use any samples. There's nothing wrong with samples, but for me, creating and playing all the parts live allows my musical DNA to be part of the music. Tiffe has an amazing understanding of music, how it works and how it all fits together. She also has an awesome voice and understanding of melody. We have a small studio set up in our home and bounce ideas back and forth all the time. Writing together is pretty effortless, really. It's not always easy writing with other people, but, thankfully, we have that connection.
Obviously, this project is far different than Sister Cities or even Power of Dreams. When did you get into electronic music and what sparked your interest?
I've actually been into electronic music for a long time. Around the same time Power of Dreams began recording 2 Hell With Common Sense -- the band's second album -- I started to take a real an interest in keyboards and drum machines. This was the early '90s, when indie guitar music was leading the way, and although electronic music was present, it wasn't getting much attention. That all changed, however, when the indie kids discovered ecstasy and their new found love of dancing for hours on end to thumping bass drums and hypnotic bass and keyboard riffs. It seemed like overnight everyone was into it, and so began a very exciting and innovative time for electronic music.
Around this time I went to see Nine Inch Nails play their first Dublin show as part of the Pretty Hate Machine tour. I was completely blown away and amazed at the energy electronic music was capable of producing. It was after that gig that I started messing about with music recording software and analog synths. As time went on, I began to discover more and more electronic music and realized that I related very strongly to it. I've always wanted start an electronic band but it never felt right for some reason? Not really sure why, so I didn't, but when I met Tiffe that all changed.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.