Lightspeed Champion feature, published in Stool Pigeon May 07.
“I’m gonna say it,” says Dev Hynes, former member of cult noise act Test-Icicles, and current brains behind Domino signed Lightspeed Champion, “Baby Suri is like a modern day Jesus.” He pauses like a guy who’s just delivered the defining speech of a generation, then adds, “there, I said it.”
It’s Saturday afternoon, and we’re talking heroes. Coming off a tangent that spans Lil’ Wayne, Rivers Cuomo and graphic artists Adrian Tomine and Mike Allrod, Dev is happily throwing the world’s most famous baby into his list of idols.
“What about Shiloh Nouvell Jolie Pitt?”
He snorts, “Modern day Damien.”
Talking to Dev is always just on the borderline of ironic. He lives his life like a comic book slacker with a black cloud over his head, and things do tend to go wrong around him. On the plane to Omaha to record his album (with mike Mogis of bright eyes), the plane was delayed with the explanation, ‘oops, yup we’re gonna have to turn around’, and showing up to Jimmy Eat World on his own after a bad date, he bumped into the first love of his life with her new fiancé, and ended up having to stand with them all night.
“I went to my flatmate’s toilet to borrow loo roll the other day,” he sighs, “and there’s a gold disk sitting on the sink. Just lying there. I’m like, ‘what’s the point’.”
It must be kind of weird when your two best friends are in the hottest bands of the moment. His flatmate is in the Klaxons, and Faris Rotter has designed a comic for the cover of his album. However, for all the ‘right now’ of the other two, it’s Lightspeed Champion whose message cuts across to the experience of the everyman. Or at least everynerd.
Kiss me and comfort me, my sweet, come over I just bought the new OC, and if they can sort their problems out, why can’t I get out the house, for a mango frescato or tea? he sings on Everyone is Listening to Crunk, echoing the thoughts of all the kids who grew up watching Mallrats, and don’t get why they weren’t welcomed to their twenties with a game show and a Jaws themed wedding.
“My lyrics can be kind of literal,” says Dev, “but there’s always some metaphor behind it. It’s like the way I talk, people always think I’m joking, but I’m not, I really mean what I say but there’s also something else to it.”
Like the song where you’re wanking off to the lyric Wake up Princess?
“No that’s not a metaphor, that’s about Zelda.”
As rock n’ roll lifestyles go, Dev’s is not so much an adolescent fantasy as an adolescent reality. He loves Maroon 5, queued on day of release to buy Weezer’s Make Believe, and spends Friday night at home streaming 24 and iChatting Uffie (ok, not every adolescent’s reality). He talks self-deprecatingly and sparingly about his music, but has nothing but genuine enthusiasm on the subject of Spiderman 3. With all this normal life in the way, how easy is it to keep creative?
“I don’t really think about it,” he says, “I just write loads of songs all the time, and different songs go with different projects. That’s why Lightspeed is so different from Test-Icicles, and before that I was doing mainly hip-hop stuff.”
Like on your Myspace profile Nigga Bullshit Rules?
He giggles, “that’s kind of a joke, but yeah.”
Jokes aside, Dev is appropriately superhuman in his output, writing half of his second album before the first is even released. He has been known to write three songs in a day, make guest appearances with artists like the Chemical Brothers, and last year formed a band with members of Semifinalists and Tom Vek. He’s now co-writing songs for a female singer-songwriter called Florence and the Machine, and preparing to take his band on the road. Not bad for a guy with bad luck. Still, now that everything’s going to plan, what’s keeping him awake at night?
“Will Ferrell,” he shakes his head sadly, “Not funny.”
Ironically, it’s the first serious thing he’s said all day.