They will make you laugh, yet tremble with fear. They will make you feel that the world has come to an end. They will make you question your own sanity. They will make you thirst for blood, for the taste of flesh-or at the very least, get you to dance your ass off like a motherfucker... "They" are Evil Nine, who are back from the dead with the release of their much-anticipated new album, They Live!, due out in late September on Marine Parade.
Don't be surprised if They Live! does for zombies what Daft Punk did for robots. With stomping electro drums, '80s Italian horror-movie synths, dirty punk basslines, and a wanton disregard for genre rules, the infamously subversive dance/electronic duo create an unstoppable soundtrack for the new zombie revolution, down to the gory horror-show cover imagery courtesy artist Dan Mumford, infamous for his sicko album art for Gallows and other punk/metal classics. The treats inside prove equally cinematic and shocking: the title track (and first single) pays irreverent homage to cult director John Carpenter's classic 1988 sci-fi ghoulfest They Live with its ultra-catchy vocoder chorus ("They walk, they lie, they love, they live!/They wake, they fall, they cry, they live!/They fight, they fail, they die, they live!"). "We love that film and the weird, crunchy, stripped-down analog-electronic scores John Carpenter creates," Beaufoy says. "I've had a massive fascination with zombie films since I was a teenager," Pardy adds, "and it just seemed time to re-light the fire of the undead to spring upon the masses. After all, zombies are just like us-just give them a chance!"
The "They Live!" single offers a fitting introduction to the rest of the Brighton, England-based group's new full-length-a worthy successor to their 2005 album debut You Can Be Special Too, one of the most acclaimed electronic albums in recent memory ("Just killer tracks," VICE; "Assertive, chunky, majestic," The Independent; "The Beastie Boys would be proud," Q; "Best album I've heard in a long time," Pete Tong; "Awesome," Zane Lowe; "Album of the year by the hottest producers," Eddie Temple Morris). For one, They Live! the album features a number of surprising collaborations, a tradition started by Aesop Rock's blinding guest verse on ...Special's hit "Crooked." Foremost is Def Jux's radical mastermind El-P, whose brutal spitting transforms the apocalyptic slammer "All The Cash." "We hooked up with him after our DJ set at Coachella last year and really got along," Pardy says. "If there was one rapper we wanted to work with, it's El-P. And he was up for something different: I don't think he's much of a dance-music fan, but he's very open-minded musically." Elsewhere, Beans (of Anti-Pop Consortium) turns "Set It Off" into a Goth-meets-hip-house burner, while David, vocalist of Kitsuné buzz band Autokratz, adds melodic New Wave melancholy to "The Wait." "I'm not sure what David's singing about," Beaufoy admits. "I think it's about getting laid after a gig and trying to slip away quietly to avoiding any awkwardness." Additionally Seraphim (from Brooklyn indie-electro seditionaries No Surrender) and Bristol scenester Emily Breeze also make crucial cameos. "To us, Emily's the female Danzig," Pardy explains. "It was great having her make ballsy punk-rock-chick noise over us pretending to be a rock band. We always like to push people to do something completely new."
Creating this army of like-minded iconoclasts is all part of Evil Nine's plan to confound expectations. To that end, They Live! features pounding tracks that will work in any club, but filtered through unexpected influences spanning '80s cock rock, The Cure, early Prince, krautrockers Cluster, Can and Tangerine Dream, vintage noise punkers Suicide and Black Flag, and newer sonic saboteurs TV On The Radio and Queens of the Stone Age. As such, "Behemoth" welds Timbaland rhythms to Black Sabbath heaviness; "Feed On You" comes out somewhere between Beverly Hills Cop and a phantom death march; "Dead Man Coming" loops soundtrack composer/Goblin member Fabio Frizzi's theme from Zombie Flesh Eaters with ragga rudeness courtesy Toastie Taylor of U.K. rap crew New Flesh; "The Wait," meanwhile, incorporates the experiments of Paul Lansky, the early synth pioneer whom Radiohead sampled on "Idioteque." "He's a mad Princeton professor who experiments with strange noises," Beaufoy explains. "We're obsessed," Pardy says. "We can usually find something positive and inspiring about most of the music out there, we then fuck it up and twist it into our own thing." Equally individual will be Evil Nine's kinetic new live show: it features Pardy and Beaufoy singing and playing dueling bass guitars, synthesizers and samples onstage, along with an actual human drummer and a fittingly spooky visual phantasmagoria. "We want people to come to the shows dressed as zombies to add a Rocky Horror Picture Show element," Pardy says. "We may even give away fake blood. We need all the help we can get-after all, we're just two zombies versus the world!"