Photos by G. Video courtesy of Penguin Prison.
I’m giving you fair warning: Penguin Prison is a group you are going to be hearing a lot about in the coming years. The band, whose music can be described as an electro hybrid of Prince and Michael Jackson, is the brainchild of New York’s Chris Glover. In under 2 years, Chris Glover has remixed artists as from Kylie Minogue to Jamiroquai and he’s about to release his debut album in the US on October 18, 2011. The album will be released in the UK & Ireland, most of Europe (aside from France, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), and Australia on September 5, 2011! There’ll also be an exclusive, limited edition HMV double CD, plus exclusive bonus content with the album download from iTunes and Amazon. Penguin Prison is notorious for giving their fans free remixes, so you should definitely stay connected to them on Facebook or Twitter. Before you read an interview I conducted with lead singer Chris Glover, get to know their music with their latest single, the infectious “Fair Warning.”
According2G: How would you describe the Penguin Prison sound?
Chris Glover: I would describe it as pop. I have too many influences to name all of them but some of the most relevant ones are Talking Heads, Prince, Michael Jackson, LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip.
A2G: Where did the name Penguin Prison come from?
CG: I was making a joke rap song with my friend Bob and we weren’t writing any of the lyrics, we were freestyling. My friend Bob just said this line out of nowhere, “he’s a penguin vision, he went to the penguin prison and assumed a penguin position.” We thought that was very ridiculous and I remembered it later when I was trying to find a name for my band.
A2G: Tell us about your songwriting process.
CG: The best way is just to have something come to you out of the blue but that doesn’t always happen. Other times I might start by making some drums and then trying to play some synths over it and then try to come up with a melody to sing over it. It always depends. There is no one way to make a song obviously.
A2G: Who does the Penguin Prison artwork?
CG: All art that you ever see for Penguin Prison is done by an artist from Germany who goes by the name Frau Grau.
A2G: Your debut album is coming out soon. What can fans expect to hear?
CG: The album has some songs that people already know from the internet and if you have come to our live shows. It also has songs that people haven’t heard yet. It’s mostly a fun, dance party kind of album. The last song is not like that though. It’s more of a Radiohead-esque kind of ballad.
A2G: Are you planning B-sides for future singles and is there a lot of material you haven’t released yet?
CG: Right now I am working on a song with RAC (Remix Artist Collective) that he is going to release. There is a lot of stuff that I have made that hasn’t been released of course.
A2G: You remix a lot of artists. What are your thoughts on writing songs for others?
CG: I like working with other people in general. I made a song with Lana Del Rey a while ago that I have to finish working on. I like it. I would like to do more of that.
A2G: Any songs you might start covering live in concert?
CG: I have been thinking about doing a cover for our live shows but haven’t been able to decide on one. Maybe “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly or “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince.
A2G: Tell us about your collaborations with Holy Ghost!
CG: I think I started helping them a little here and there with some of their songs and then Alex Frankel helped me with “Golden Train” and “The Worse It Gets.” They have more equipment than most people for sure. It’s kind of insane what Nick’s apt looks like.
A2G: Who would you like to work with?
CG: I would like to work with Kanye West at some point. I would really like to produce songs for hip hop artists.
A2G: You play so many instruments. Are you self taught?
CG: I took guitar lessons from when I was about 11 until I was maybe 17 or so. I was in a gospel choir for 3 years at the professional performing arts school. Other than that I taught myself yeah.
A2G: What’s your favorite song to play live?
CG: My favorite song live is “Multi-Millionaire” probably because I can go into the crowd when there is a long section where I don’t have to sing. Any song where I can go into the crowd is my favorite to play.
A2G: Where did you learn to play guitar behind your head?
CG: I just did it one day and then kept doing it cuz I thought it was funny.
A2G: The obvious comparisons between Michael Jackson and Prince come up because you are so talented. What’s your favorite song from each?
CG: My favorite Prince song is “Kiss” and my favorite Michael Jackson song is “Billie Jean.”
A2G: What’s been the coolest moment of your career so far?
CG: I really like touring the best I think. The tour we did opening for Girl Talk was the most fun I have had so far I think.
A2G: What does the future hold for you?
CG: I hope to just tour all over the world as much as possible, meet a lot of people and have a good time.
Thanks Chris for giving us a look into your life and creative process. I am looking forward to seeing your name at the top of the music charts! Now as a bonus, check out a live version of “Don’t Fuck With My Money,” a new track that will be featured on Penguin Prison’s debut album.