Chromeo’s Dave 1
More Gotta Start Somewhere
No matter how successful entertainers become, they’ll inevitably always remember the first gig—whether it was disastrous, wonderful, or absurdly strange. Gotta Start Somewhere embraces these nostalgic moments by asking established entertainers to retell the story of the first time they ever graced a stage. In this edition, The A.V. Club caught up with Chromeo’s Dave 1 (a.k.a. David Macklovitch) before the band’s show Oct. 3 at Turner Hall Ballroom.
Dave 1: The first Chromeo show was here in Montreal. It was in August 2002, at this kind of ravey electronic music event. We had a DAT machine with us, which was a sign of the times. We schlepped that DAT machine into the venue, and my brother, A-Trak, was helping the sound guy cue the songs on DAT. At the very beginning of the show, we came onstage, and there was just this awkward silence. DATs are like tapes, in that you have to wait for them to start playing, so ours was playing and nothing was happening. I remember trying to say, “Whenever you’re ready,” but my tongue got caught in my French accent and it sounded really weird. P [-Thugg, fellow Chromeo member] still makes fun of me for it to this day.
I think we were fortunate, though, in that it was at a festival. It wasn’t a single-ticket show, so people weren’t there just to see us. We had 300 or 400 people there, so it definitely went downhill after that for a minute.
The A.V. Club: How?
D1: After that show, we had one dope show, and then it was shit for another year or two. Our second show, I’d just moved to New York, and Vice Magazine had just signed Mike Skinner’s The Streets. They were putting out his album, and they had this release party that sold out Bowery Ballroom. I was writing for Vice at the time, and all these people who were friends of mine were like, “You should play this show. We’ll put you on.” So, it was all these Vice bands like Panthers, The Stills, us, and then The Streets. I don’t know why they put us on right before The Streets—maybe because we were electronic and it was a better transition, but it went over incredibly well for no apparent reason. I guess NYC got our sound, or whatever. I remember P came out in a 2Pac shirt eating a Moon Pie, and we still had that DAT machine onstage. I had a Flying V, and the sound guy at Bowery was this dude named Kenny who was this ’80s heavy-metal dude with a mullet and a thick New York accent. He told me it was the first time he’d seen someone playing disco with a Flying V. Anyway, everyone loved us, and then Vice offered us a record deal the next day. Then we spend the next two years playing in front of five people.
AVC: What was the first show you played before Chromeo? Like, were you in a bad high school band?
D1: The first show I ever played was when I was 15 at College Stanislas in Montreal, with my high school band in our high school gym on amateur night. P was in the group too. I was playing guitar and he was playing bass, and I think it went over pretty well. I remember I wore an orange and purple Adidas jacket that was a big hit. I wore it every day for the following week.
AVC: What were you guys called?
D1: We went through a couple of different names, but I think at that point we were called Rubadoids. I think a band’s success is determined by how good their name is. Chromeo, it’s like, that’s so good; how come no one thought of it before that? Rubadoids? God doesn’t want that to exist. It’s obviously not going to go anywhere. A band like Journey, though, the world needs a band called Journey. Same with Foreigner and Europe. If you come up with a really good band name, people are going to like you.
AVC: Did Rubadoids play cover songs or originals?
D1: We played originals.
The funny thing about that band is that we had a friend of ours who was going to be our singer, and he’d come to rehearsal and then just sleep every time. We never heard him sing, but our drummer was like, “No, no, he’s really good. He has so much soul.” He just never sang, though. We’d try and get him to, but he’d just give his opinion on the songs and get around it. So, at the show, he was going to come out and sing, and we were really excited to see what he was going to do. He just walked onstage, did a little dance, and then walked off. We did everything instrumental the whole time. We kicked him out, subsequently.
AVC: Did you grow up playing music?
D1: I always had bands. I started playing guitar at 10, and I’d been on TV three times before this high school show playing guitar.
D1: It was with different elementary school and high school bands. We’d play Jimi Hendrix covers on kids’ shows. We never did a real public show, though. There’s videos of those shows somewhere. In one, I played Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” which is the famous one from Woodstock with the crazy drum solo. One, I think, is “Purple Haze,” and I’m maybe 11. Another is me playing “Strange Brew” by Cream.
AVC: How did you land that gig?
D1: One of the mothers of one of the guys in the band worked at the TV station.
AVC: What was that band called?
D1: They didn’t have names. I think they’d just announce us by saying, “Here are three kids from blahblah neighborhood, and they’re going to play Jimi Hendrix.” I think the guitar was bigger than I was.