We caught Ned Scott, keyboardist and one of The Egg’s founding twin brothers, during a quiet evening a couple of weeks ago at home in his Notting Hill flat, just as he was about to step away to prepare (honestly) a cup of tea.
“Oh my gosh yes, of course,” he stammered, learning that his trans-Atlantic phone interview was calling, “but, um could you call back in, say … I dunno, three minutes?”
We laughed. How about four minutes, we countered.
“Four minutes, perfect then. Just the exact time it takes to boil an egg,” he deadpanned, and off he went. We’re not sure if that was meant to be a clever pun; we don’t boil eggs very often. Is that how long it takes?
The London-based quartet (a quintet when they’re on the road) brings its multimedia, shamelessly genre-bending electronic dance music show to the Fox this weekend, kicking off a few-week swing through the
Western U.S. on the heels of Something To Do, the latest long player from a band that, despite an almost 18-year history, doesn’t actually have a lot of them to its name. Well-known and -regarded in its native England, the band got its start in Oxford in the mid 1990s and made a name playing the east/west club circuit between there and Bath, but really broke when its electro house single “Walking Away” got picked up and remixed by the German spinner DJ Tocadisco in 2006. The original single also included guest vocals by singer Sophie Barker — who joins the band on this twin-bill tour.
These things happen in a turntable and DJs-as-stars club scene world. But a cursory trip through Something to Do, which may sound like a really swell remix bed but stands squarely as a work unto itself, may leave anyone who recalls their first album from back in the day, Albumen, wondering exactly when the synths and mirror ball romance took over from the rambling, raggedly psychedelic, offbeat band sound.
There’s plenty to like about Something To Do, of course. The spacious and moody “Electric City” swoons and sways with unforced elegance, Scott’s vocals well below the song’s sweeping high arch; the aggro-EDM driver “Over There” roils beneath slashing guitar figures that might force a grin of familiarity from The Edge; and the sinfully throbby “Fire,” all satin and slithery groove, actually opens with a Spanish guitar. So no, it’s not all automated beats per minute.
The Egg is still a band.
“Yeah. Yeah, we are,” he says. “And thanks for that. ‘Electric City,’ I really like that one. It started off in a hotel room in Perth, when we did a tour through Australia. … It’s about people being in so much technology now, people having an Internet connection, [so] they don’t need each other so much, but want to be sure that someone is there. It’s got that sort of spaced-out, dance thing — you can take the vocals or not.”
Scott, for his part, kind of sidesteps the question of whether The Egg is really an EDM dance band, a kind of outlier in this day and age, or whether they’re a rock band with a BPM fixation.
“We have that kind of Pink Floyd chord structure, in the writing and textures,” he says. “The other side of it, which I think is more exposed on Albumen, is that we kind of like playing a live funk party. My brother Maff is a really brilliant drummer, easily the best drummer I’ve ever worked with. … I think humans playing in a room full of humans is inspiring.”
And, not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with it; it’s not Ableton.
“Yeah. Ableton is all kind of locked in and sync’ed to be in time and all that stuff. I used to have a sampler and a box, but it was for playing leads. It was just the sounds; the rhythms and the fills from the keyboard are all live,” Scott says.
And Scott, probably unintentionally, then wandered off into one of those revealing and unexpected places that speaks to the genetically encoded symbiotic side effects of playing in a band with your identical twin brother.
“Apparently, I end up tapping with my left hand on the side of the keyboard, to syncopate my right hand with the rhythm. And I end up standing on one leg.”
He concedes it isn’t always easy for other band members to work their way into Team Scott — the inside jokes and seemingly arcane quarrels that only twin brothers would understand — but for better or worse, it’s what gives The Egg its shape.
“I guess that’s kind of where the title of the album comes from,” Scott says. “Playing in this band is Something To Do; something for me and my brother to do together.”
The Egg and Sophie Barker of Zero 7 play the Fox Theatre Thursday, May 9. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 day of show with a $2 fee for under-21 tickets.