Fame Monsters

By Paul Rogers

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Posted January 27, 2011 in Feature Story

L.A.’s Day-Glo electro-hoppers LMFAO have made a science—and a career—out of partying. The DJ/producer duo, Redfoo and Sky Blu (uncle and nephew, don’t cha know), even named their 2009 debut album, record label and clothing line “Party Rock.” And if you were expecting to see a more serious side of LMFAO with their sophomore full-length, due this spring (as if a group called LMFAO could even have a serious side), prepare to be disappointed. Their new album might be titled Sorry for Party Rocking, but LMFAO clearly aren’t.

“IT’S LIKE A SEQUEL”

“I want to get people dancing more,” mulls Redfoo, who’ll be performing at Club Silk at Pechanga Resort & Casino on Friday. “Like, right now a lot of people just throw their hands up and they maybe spray alcohol . . . but I’ve been dancing a lot and I feel like it’s a great thing . . . so the beats [on Sorry for Party Rocking] are really fine-tuned to dancing and there is some more melody. But it’s the same conceptual thing: we’re talking about the lifestyle of partying, what happens and the relationships. It’s like a sequel to a movie: slightly different plot, but the same character.”

Hailing from the posh seaside community of Pacific Palisades, Redfoo and Sky Blu had individually worked the decks of the club circuit for years before their booze-n-bikinis anthem “I’m in Miami Bitch” (which you may know in its “clean” incarnation, “I’m in Miami Trick”) announced LMFAO’s arrival and parlayed their massive MySpace popularity into a Billboard hit. Their relentless, do-it-yourself Internet marketing—including daily YouTube updates and self-produced music videos and comedic skits—made them a force that the mainstream music industry just couldn’t ignore, and they teamed-up with the will.i.am Music Group and Interscope Records for Party Rock and in-character singles like “Shots” (featuring Lil Jon) and “Party Rock Anthem.”

BURN, BABY, BURN

Yet Redfoo doesn’t feel that LMFAO sold out to the music biz “machine,” and he doesn’t think that other acts need emulate their major label example either. “We want to be the biggest thing in music, but we want to be ourselves doing it—or slightly exaggerated versions of ourselves,” he says. “Do you need the machinery? I don’t think you need them because you have the Internet, you have YouTube. Like, we were No. 1 on MySpace with no machinery; we had songs on the radio with no machinery. We chose to partner [with Interscope] because I went to school with will.i.am since the 7th grade and I’ve worked with him and made music with him and [grew] up with him. And he was there at Interscope and he was, like, ‘Come join our family’ . . . We just give them a fire and they put gasoline on it. So it’s extra gasoline, yes, but you can start this fire and spread it yourselves. It just takes a little more time maybe.”

Only LMFAO probably do need to make deals with the industry devils because of Redfoo’s professed desire to “be so big that we can’t even walk down the street.” To achieve that level of recognition, bands still need the leverage that the traditional major record labels have with radio, TV and arena-level touring. Hey, it’s no coincidence that LMFAO landed a primo opening slot with will.i.am’s mega-selling Black Eyed Peas on their U.S. tour last year.

DRINKING AND SINGING

“It’s not easy to get to that level [of fame], so I think it’s interesting to see how far you can take it,” Redfoo explains. “What is it like if you walk into a mall and the whole place gets shut down? I’ve done a lot of things in my life and that was the last thing that I had not done—I had never got famous. Anybody can make music in their home and put it online and share it with people. It’s not hard to do that, and actually we did that for a long time before we became LMFAO. So it’s more challenging if you can do music and get the No. 1 spot or become so desirable that when you walk down the street people stop—then you’re really doing some stuff that very few people can do . . . And then there’s the money that comes with that and you’re going to get the girls.”

Redfoo’s refreshingly frank ambition and palpable business savvy (he refers to LMFAO’s deal with Interscope as “a strategy”) are incongruous with his band’s flippant lyrical content and borderline Girls Gone Wild videos. While LMFAO’s programming and self-promotion skills might be rocket science, their rhymes and imagery are anything but.

“A lot of the ideas come from real-life situations or dialogue; ‘Shots’ being a great example,” says Redfoo. “A DJ friend of ours, Eric D-Lux, he always was, like, ‘Let’s take some shots!’ . . . He called drunk with an idea: [sings] ‘Shots! Patrons on the rocks and I’m ready for some shots!’ . . . And we got him in [to the studio] and he recorded that part and then we built the song around that.”

SMOKE SIGNAL

But there’s a real, subtle skill to being able to deliver lines like “Anna wants it bad/She’s got some big kahunas” [from “I’m in Miami Bitch”] without coming across like misogynist pigs—at least not to everyone. “People can feel that I’m having fun and it’s not degrading,” Redfoo laughs. “I just feel like as long as it’s funny and your energy is for the good, you could say anything.” LMFAO do, and their unapologetic, uncensored club-life soundtrack is clearly resonating with legions of hedonism-hunters worldwide (their MySpace profile boasted over twelve and a half million views at last count).

LMFAO’s Party Rock clothing line echoes this ethos and is built around 1980s-inspired garish garb—zebra prints, no-lens glasses and colors that should only ever be seen on highlighter pens—that the duo themselves have become known for. Like LMFAO’s music, a Party Rock outfit sends a message to the world.

“It says ‘I love this life; this world is like a party to me. I’m going to wear these clothes and express myself. I like color; I like fashion; I like to have fun; I like to have a laugh. I’m a fun, crazy type of person’ . . . It’s basically a smoke signal to other like-minded people; a ‘party radar’ maybe!”

ELECTRO-HOP HALLOWEEN

Expect LMFAO to be touring hard behind Sorry for Party Rocking because, though they make their music with cold technology and are the very model of Internet marketing, they retain a huge passion for live performance—as anyone who witnessed their riotous New Year’s Eve 2009-10 performance at Club Silk will attest.

“The energy that you can feel live is just un-matched. You’ll never get that energy from a DVD,” Redfoo enthuses. “That’s what I think was the really big thing in making us legit; our show is just more than the album. Our show is the album plus! It’s energy; it’s connecting with people . . . it changes peoples’ lives and people dress up, they wear the no-lenses and they wear the zebra and it’s like Halloween. What would Halloween be like if you had to watch it on TV?”

“Electro-hop Halloween” sums-up LMFAO’s music, show—and probably their lifestyle—pretty nicely. Yep: year-round, 24/7, electro-hop Halloween.

Redfoo of LMFAO performing live w/DJ Tony Martinez at Club Silk, Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Pkwy., Temecula, (877) 711-2946; www.pechanga.com, www.myspace.com/lmfao. Fri, Jan. 28. Doors open at 9PM.


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