'Toronto Sun Interview' - 29th April, 1997
By Kieran Grant...
The Sneaker Pimps are just part of the procession of British bands carrying electronic beats to North America. The trip-hop-pop trio are experienced at winning over nonbelievers. The group's founders, keyboardist Liam Howe and guitarist Chris Corner, even had to convert
singer Kelli Dayton to "electronica" before embarking on their mission.
"I wasn't very thrilled about working with samplers when I joined up with them," a cheerful Dayton admits recently from a tour-stop in Hoboken, N.J. Sneaker Pimps play a free show at the Horseshoe tonight along with Junior Relaxer -- a.k.a. King Cobb Steelie -- and The Album Review Shannon Lyon Pop Explosion.
"I came from a kind of punk and indie rock background and I didn't know very much about electronic music," Dayton adds. "But Chris is a very good guitarist and Liam can play piano. That broke down a lot of barriers that I'd put up myself, really. Now we've all sort of overlapped in our tastes."
It's come in handy for the Sneaker Pimps' current North American tour.
"America's idea of electro and dance is so very different from the English hold on it," says Dayton.
"It's quite refreshing to be in America as electro stuff starts to catch on, but at the same time, we see
ourselves as a permanent thing made up of many elements and we know that when the fuss dies down a bit we won't just be making retro music."
According to Dayton, her first collaboration with Howe and Corner two years ago was meant to be a one-off experiment. "We weren't even a band as such," the 22-year-old singer says. "We just met each other through other bands and decided to work together. It was very, very easy. I would just go up on weekends to their bedroom studio. We were under very little pressure." The band were "amazed" when Virgin Records took interest in their demos. They even had to scramble for a
name, settling on Sneaker Pimps when they learned that that was what the Beastie Boys used to call a team of lackeys they paid to locate rare shoes for them. Virgin liked what they heard and recently picked up the band's debut album, Becoming X, after it first saw the light of day last year on the British indie label One Little Indian -- once home to Bjork.
The album is highlighted by the ethereal soul of 6 Underground and the infectious Tesko Suicide -- which sounds a bit like the B-52's being shoved through the techno-rock grinder. Dayton adds a bright pop dimension to the songs and provides Sneaker Pimps with a voice. She regrets the fact that she didn't write the lyrics, though they seem custom fit for her.
"I couldn't have sung them if I'd known I'd be doing it for the next two-and-a-half years," she says, laughing. "I wouldn't have agreed to do that. I'd never actually sung anyone else's lyrics but my own before. But, because it was an experiment, I invested a lot of emotion. I was quite happy to put myself through that in the hope that I'd become a better singer.
"I've been writing stuff, and we all collaborate together now. But sometimes it's nice to be able to just concentrate on singing without worrying about personal expression."