Doin’ it Right: the Daft as Punk Experience


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Doin’ it Right: the Daft as Punk Experience

Inside the helmets of Ireland's only Daft Punk tribute act.

The second of our tribute act interviews saw me talk to Eugene from Daft as Punk, an act who currently lay claim to being Ireland's only tribute to Daft Punk.

The tribute act is a strange phenomenon, and one that a cynic could easily write off as a gimmick. Yet the success of Daft as Punk suggests there is something more than novelty at play here, as made clear by the regularity of the duo's bookings. Of course this could be something specifically effective with Daft Punk, an act that thrive off anonymity. Daft as Punk might not look anything like the genuine article - but behind two shiny visors, nobody is any the wiser.


There's a key distinction to make between what DAP do and the show that our last interviewee Fatboy Tim puts on. While both belong to the same phenomenon, Tim plays in the style of his parent act, Daft as Punk play as Daft Punk. Their sets see them donning the helmets and racing through pretty much every track the French duo have ever put out in a Baudrillardian simulation of them circa the Alive 2007 days when the pyramid loomed over festivals the world round. This is an attempt at total assimilation. Less a tribute, more an illusion.

THUMP: When did you decide to start a Daft Punk tribute act?
Eugene: My DJ partner James and I were absolutely manic Daft Punk fans and we already played out together. We were in the DJ society at university as well. Daft Punk had toured in 2007 and 2011 and they were the greatest gigs we'd ever seen. We were sick of waiting for them to play again. We'd talked about starting a Daft Punk night where we we'd just play their tunes, which we did, and it was a huge success. We did this night without helmets and it was great, but we knew that if we could get the costumes we could play as them. For other tribute acts you need to learn the songs. We didn't want people just to watch us press play so we got the helmets made.

Who made them for you?
We got them made by a guy in LA. He designs the props for movies. We bought cheaper helmets that were ok initially, then we got the real ones the guys wear. They cost $150,000 and ours are exact replicas which cost about £3000.


Is that money well spent?
Very well spent. We had to do a few gigs to pay that off. You've got to look the part though. With Daft Punk, though the tunes are amazing, its about the look, the image.

What's the psychology behind starting this kind of act?
We initially did it for fun and we still don't make much money off it. If we sell three, four hundred tickets for a show, we're going to have a great weekend but not come back with much left. At the moment Daft Punk aren't touring but people want to see them. We fill that gap. When they do come back we'll be the first fucking guys at the front.

When you play out are you Thomas Bangalter or Guy Manuel?
I'm Guy Man.

How come?
The decision behind that came from the fact that my partner is the more talented DJ out of the two of us so it's easier for him to see out of his helmet. I can barely see out of mine. I can pretty much just look down in mine so I do the effects and he does most of the actual DJing, the mixing. You can't use headphones with these so everything has to be ready with Traktor. We had to put weeks of work into refining the set, getting the cues right, all that.

Are you playing obscure B-sides and stuff?
Daft Punk have 73 songs. We don't play them all because some are too obscure, some are too shit, and some just don't work. We played a gig in the superclub in Dublin once and we designed the set so it was a real Daft Punk trainspotters set. We were playing all these re-edits, all these online mashups we found. We thought it was the shit. They hated us. These kids on the dancefloor didn't know any of it. They didn't know "Rollin' and Scratchin'" or "Rock 'N Roll" and we cleared the place.


Did you rescue it? Did you spin back into a classic?
We slapped on "One More Time" which always works. We learned that night that you've got to start with the big tunes. You can play the acid-y Homework stuff after that.

Can we agree that half of Random Access Memories is absolute shit?
Yes. For definite. When I first listened to it I was pretty pissed off. It was slow, chilled, it was music you might shag your missus to.

Do you play the outer limits stuff, bits on Roule or Crydamoure?
We used to play "Music Sounds Better With You" and a few other French house classics. We basically have two kinds of crowds. The first is when we've been booked by a club to play and most of the crowd aren't that knowledgeable about Daft Punk. They know the big tracks but if we play anything obscure…at our own shows we get the fanatics. We can play what we want. We often find edits to let us play the slower stuff, but it's banging from track three onwards. We don't drop the quieter stuff. Save that for the bedroom.

Are they aware of you?
I don't know. We hired a solicitor to check the legality. Basically as long as we don't use their intellectual property and play in a licensed venue we're fine.

Will you buy a pyramid?
We've got one! We've not used it yet though. It's not of the magnitude of theirs but it works.

Read more in this series

The Rockafeller Prank: Fatboy Tim
That's Not Me: the Weird World of the Dance Tribute Act

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