Riot act

Germany’s Woog Riots invade the U.S. with one goal: To make you dance

TWO TO DISCO <br> Silvana Battisti (left) and Marc Herbert are Italian/German duo Woog Riots.

Silvana Battisti (left) and Marc Herbert are Italian/German duo Woog Riots.

Photo courtesy of woog riots

Preview: Woog Riots perform at Empire Coffee Fri., Aug. 7, 8 p.m. with The Sleeze Tax.

Europe certainly has no shortage of artists pumping out frantic, mechanized beats for throngs inside sweaty dance clubs. Germany’s Woog Riots (pronounced “vogue riots”) takes an earthier approach, though not necessarily Earthly.

In fact the duo—made up of Italian and German couple Silvana Battisti and Marc Herbert—would be as comfortable under the glistening lights of a discoteca as they would in a beer-soaked punk club. The new-wave pop of Devo and The Human League plays heavily in the mix, while the sometimes unruly experimentation of krautrock practitioners like Amon Düül II and Kraftwerk bubbles underneath the surface.

And, of course, there’s The Fall.

It was a mutual love for the Manchester, England, post-punk band—in particular its eccentric leader Mark E. Smith—that would lead to Woog Riots going from a small project to becoming a fully functional act. Battisti and Herbert contacted hundreds of artists to participate in what would become the double-disc tribute album Perverted By Mark E. The album features contributions from Chico’s own Barbara Manning (and her Go-Luckys) as well as Pavement co-founder Scott Kannberg’s Preston School of Industry—and Woog Riots, who covered Manning’s “Mark E. Smith & Brix.”

Battisti and Herbert released a handful of 7-inches and released their first full-length, Strangelove TV, in 2006. Last year the duo put out PASP, a “danceable as hell” concept album/social experiment. Woog Riots will make their U.S. debut right here in Chico with Manning’s rock unit The Sleeze Tax before both head to San Francisco’s Hemlock Tavern the following night.

Battisti talked to the CN&R via e-mail from Frankfurt, Germany, about Moldy Peaches, scientific developments in Western civilization and starting a riot on the dance floor.

Do you try to find a happy medium between rock and dance music?

Yes, definitely. We love to dance and are DJs ourselves. Coming from lo-fi roots, we thought, “Why not make [it] danceable?” Most techno and house music doesn’t turn us on so we had to find a way to make our favorite music danceable and here you go—PASP is danceable as hell!

PASP is divided into chapters: People, Animals, Society and Places. Where did the idea for the concept come from?

After our record Strangelove TV had been released we wanted to start something completely new. Not only in a musical way by turning from more folky songs to danceable ones, but also with different content. We started with songs like “Paul McCartney” (People), “Elephants and Mirrors” (Animals), “Islam Punk” (Society) and “Living Room” (Places) and realized that we had a concept there. So the next songs had to fit into that. We love to investigate and look at things with a certain distance and so we tried to cover all key cultural, political and scientific developments in Western civilization.

You’ve been compared to the Moldy Peaches. What are some of your influences?

We have plenty of influences starting with ’80s post-punk legends such as The Human League, The Fall, Television Personalities, Daniel Johnston then Jonathan Richman. Our [main] influences now are LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and Metronomy, going back again to the Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk. I guess we have been compared to the Moldy Peaches as Marc and I share our vocals and they surely have a similar musical socialization.

You’re playing two shows with Barbara Manning, someone you’ve known for some time …

This could fill the whole interview, but to cut a long story short: I was the biggest fan of Barbara’s band The World of Pooh, and while on vacation in San Francisco I met her in a record store. We became close friends and today Barbara is not only a huge influence, but the godmother of my kids.

What’s next for Woog Riots?

We are already in the middle of recording a new album called Futurology. We’ll tour the UK in October and start a riot on the indie dance floors worldwide!