How Trent Reznor and Nick Zinner Got The Blood Brothers' Cody Votolato into Making Dance Music
Check the post-hardcore legend's remix of Spoon's "New York Kiss."
Cody Votolato may be best known for his screeching guitar antics with the likes of now-legendary noisemakers The Blood Brothers and hardcore "supergroup" Head Wound City, but lately he's pulling double duty and bringing the remix back to rock via a series of reinterpretations for the likes of fellow band geeks Spoon, Metz, and a number of impressive names yet to be announced.
We've got the premiere of the second of Votolato's two remixes for Spoon, a pulsing rendition of album closer, "New York Kiss" from 2014's They Want My Soul. Doubling down on chorus and sucking out the air of the instrumentation, Votolato twists the tune into an eerie night-drive-channeling emotive of repetition, making for a reflective, 4AM-friendly version, ripe for headphones and dancefloors alike.
"I think I first got into making electronic music with Jaguar Love", Votolato reveals, referencing his electro-tinged project with Blood Bros vocalist Johnny Whitney following their former band's dissolution. Though despite his appreciation for groups like The Faint, and The VSS, it was apparently a run of Australian dates with Nine Inch Nails that pushed the guitarist to take things inside the box.
"Trent [Reznor], he was a Blood Brothers fan" Cody tells me in his Seattle living room. "that was super cool, but also really frightening for us because we had just recently become a two-piece like two weeks before we were going on tour and we had no idea how we were gonna do it. So, we got the computer and figured out how to program everything, and we had no idea if it was gonna work. That was how I kinda cut my teeth in terms of programming."
From there, brushes with composing for web and TV would find the ripper shifting away from the band paradigm, and as he puts it, "I just started thinking about bands that would be fun to remix". Already a veteran of the scene, a quick call to old pals Spoon would lead to a pair of remixes for "Do You" and the above "New York Kiss", and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I just hit up Britt [Daniel] and he was into it, Votolato tells of his new venture's organic roots, "and from there I just started doing it more through word of mouth, like the Metz remix, those guys are just buddies of mine. It's been a great experience so far and I just wanna keep making more".
Despite his recent head-on dive into remixing, it wasn't always on the radar, but a little early encouragement of sorts from Head Wound City bandmate and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner piqued Votolato's interest in getting behind the boards himself. "Originally the idea of a remix kind of freaked me out a little bit, because I didn't understand how stems worked and how all that stuff could be pulled together and changed. Nick did a Blood Brothers remix of "Laser Life", back in the day, and that was kind of one of my first experiences with a band member doing a remix. Mark [Gajadhar] had done a couple remixes as well, and I was always like "man, this is so cool how did he do that?".
For now at least, "doing that" means putting down the guitar for takes that are instead, "very synthesizer and 808 driven, lots of pads, hip hop beats, and stuff like that". But don't be surprised if the licks start to work their way back in, though. "I just haven't figured out how to incorporate it yet...I've wanted to, but I guess I feel weird about picking up my guitar and playing it over someone else's song." Pausing for a moment he caves adding, "It's crossed my mind and will probably arrive in some other remixes coming up as I get more comfortable and realize I can try anything and do whatever I want with it". Even still, he insists remixing is a different medium for him, saying candidly "I have Head Wound City to thrash in".
Remixes of that project may be in the cards as well. "I imagine Nick will, or I will, just because we can", Votolato reveals in reference to Head Woud City's upcoming collection, which recently wrapped recording and stands as their first in a decade. In closing, he also drops the bomb that a full length electronic project under his own name may be on the horizon, though for now it exists only in it's most infant stages. "It's not fully realized in any sort of way" he says with a smile, "but I really wanna do it. I already party DJ and just go in with my laptop, but in terms of doing a real electronic show its kind of intimidating... Maybe ill do it, if I make a good enough record, who knows."
Bryce Segall does acoustic guitar renditions of dance tracks - @Bryce1077