“Does anyone know where
I can find a doctor?!” someone yells, pushing past a crowd of people and running upstairs. Darren from the Avalanches is sitting on a chair clutching his knee, looking mildly, though not overly, in pain. “Is it the same leg you broke before?” someone asks. “No, it’s the other one this time. I did it on the very first song, when I jumped off that monitor backwards.” Everyone nods, Darren has another beer and Avalanche DJ Dexter announces he’s off disco dancing. Soon Darren’s up and walking around. We find out a few days later that he had, in fact, broken his ankle.
Rewind about an hour or so. Camden’s Electric Ballroom is so packed it’d take a machine gun and a few grenades to get near the stage, and even then there’d be resistance. The guest list line outside is hours long and growing, and even the free Playstation consoles are deserted. Everyone is waiting impatiently for the Avalanches, one of the most talked about and overrated bands since the Heartbreakers. Their debut Since I Left You has been short-listed for album of the year. The hype then doubled after sample clearance pushed back the US release date, and their onstage antics are already being compared to At The Drive-In meets the Plasmatics. The crowd is steadfast.
Fast forward half an hour and I’m reconsidering that “overrated” part. The Avalanches are onstage, mixing in bits of their sample-heavy album with the original sources. They’re also playing live, jumping around like kangaroos, blowing off fire extinguishers and throwing in everything from Bob Dylan to sped up Kriss Kross (back-to-back, in fact).
Rewind another 32 hours and VICE is sitting with two of the Avalanches in their hotel lobby, featuring a 24-hour bar and a steady stream of American war vets revisiting their WWII headquarters.
VICE: Your live show is already crazy but what’s “the helicopter plan”?
: What we really wanted, when the show’s about to begin, was to have hundreds of remote-control helicopters flying across the crowd. It would be great at a festival, or a big outdoor show. Get a group, like some kind of collective with flying shit and bring them down and let them go for it!
: We’d have trouble with the security and the insurance people though.
: Yeah, we already have enough problems with people threatening legal action.
What’s that all about?
: Well, one time in particular I broke my leg on stage, so for the next few shows I was on crutches. And of course, the crutches got smashed every night, and a bit of the wood hit some guy in the head and there was blood and everything. Then he says “I just finished law school. You guys are going to pay for this!”
Any other insane schemes on the go?
Yeah, we’re really into the idea of finding child prodigies who are just maestros and who can work really cheap and can just play all the samples really quickly. That’s the next step.
You’re talking about a child army.
Yeah, that’s the idea.
When I Left You
is out Oct. 30 on London/Sire.