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The Morning Benders/POP ETC outside The Troubadour (March 25, 2010)

A lot has happened since the last time I talked to Chris Chu. In 2010, The Morning Benders were headlining a sold-out Troubadour with rows of fans camped out in front of the stage hoping to hear masterful and sometimes even orchestral indie rock such as “Excuses” from up close. Since then, Chu and his band has changed their name to POP ETC (turns out benders is derogatory slang for gays in Europe) and the sound has undergone an overhaul, as well. In anticipation of the self-titled new album (which comes out on June 12) the band released a raw, self-directed video as well as a mixtape of bold, R&B-derived pop complete with Auto-Tuned vocals last week. The transformation seemed crazy until I realized that the band has never been afraid of production and that David Bowie followed up Diamond Dogs with Young Americans and Altered Images added as much polish between Pinky Blue and Bite. Chu and POP ETC look young but have toured with the likes of Broken Bells, The Black Keys, Grizzly Bear, and Death Cab for Cutie and know what they’re doing. I hit up Chris on the new songs and sounds.

MW: Can you tell me about the mixtape? Is it experiments, outtakes, or something else?
CC: The mixtape is actually a collection of all original songs (except for the cover of Björk) recorded around the same time as our new album. Basically, when we started recording we realized the songs were divided into two families. One group became the mixtape and one became the POP ETC album.

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