It’s certainly been a whirlwind few years for UK indie-electronica quartet, Django Django. From their humble DIY roots in lead producer, David Maclean’s bedroom, they released their self-titled debut in 2012 to critical acclaim. Going on to tour the album the band ended up playing more and more shows as the record kept growing in popularity. We spoke with bassist Jimmy Dixon about this success, how they approached the typically “difficult” second record and how they expect fans will react in their upcoming European tour to promote, Born Under Saturn.
Dixon explained what it was like following on from such a highly acclaimed debut LP “with the first album it just totally snowballed. It kind of gathered pace and gathered momentum. We put the record out in the UK first and that went a lot better than expected. Then it got picked up in America and Australia. We toured the album in the UK first and then we had to go to America.
Then we went to Australia to do the same there so it’s been an amazing couple of years but we literally haven’t stopped. As soon as we finished touring we only had a week and a half to relax before we were back in the studio writing again. It’s been pretty full on but it’s been great!”
How The Band Approached The ‘Difficult Second Album’
“This time round, the only thing we approached it with was, let’s record everything properly. Let’s throw everything we can at it and try and make it sound as big as we can. The first album we did with one 50 quid mic in Dave’s bedroom. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t have any thoughts in our heads of what it was gonna sound like. I think you’ve just gotta trust that all four of us have got particular tastes that’s gonna make it sound like a Django record irrespective. Generally Dave’s production pulls everything together and it ends up sounding like us somehow. It does seem different but I can’t put my finger on how or why it’s different.”
“It was so difficult trying to write anything on tour. We had a bunch of ideas and things that were just recorded off our phones but nothing concrete. It’s great to get back in London, spend some time here and start writing again. There was a bit of an adjustment period coming off tour and getting back into the writing side of things. I mean, they’re two totally different things, two totally different processes (songwriting and touring). We’d just been playing those songs for two and a half years so we were pretty happy to get back and writing again.”
The Album Writing Process
“Pretty much the whole writing process would be me, Tommy (Grace, synthesizer operator) and Vinnie (Vincent Neff singer and guitarist) bringing ideas or little scraps of ideas into the studio and we’d work on them. Dave (Maclean, drummer and producer) would then come down to the studio later on and it was good to have a fresh pair of ears, someone being objective about our ideas. He’d listen to what we’d been doing and he’d cut it up, get rid of sections, pull sections together or tell us to go away and keep working on stuff. I think it was a good dynamic; it was a good way of working. It moved things on really quickly. When Me, Tommy and Vinnie were struggling in the studio, Dave would come down and say, “get rid of this” or “keep going with that”. Dave was overseeing the whole thing and making decisions that we probably wouldn’t have done.
[include_post id=”444837”] And how they transition between a four-way split in songwriting? “I suppose it just happened organically really. When Tommy and I came into the band, they already had most of their songs on the first album, kind of demoed and there were only a couple that Tommy and I were involved with. They were just up for getting us writing, getting ideas. I suppose that’s why people are in bands, to share ideas. It seemed weird sending me and Tommy away for six months while Vinnie and Dave wrote and then us coming back in and putting bass lines down or synth lines down or whatever. I think it was just; well we’ve all got musical abilities so it’d be best not to close any doors. We all just brought ideas in and messed around with them so it was a good way of working, I think.”
The Inspiration Behind The New LP
“We’re all so open-minded because we’ve got such eclectic tastes in music and we’re all open to lots of different things. It gives us a lot of freedom. One of the reasons for that is there isn’t really any ego in the band. There isn’t anyone trying to force one idea over another. Any time someone has an idea that isn’t working, it’ll get scrapped pretty quickly.
There’s no point trying to force your ideas if it isn’t working, we’ve all accepted that. It stops you from wasting time, it stops arguments and it stops creative narrowness I suppose. We started writing songs and you’d have a chorus that sounded really west coast American, really surfy and you’d be worried that it’d sound too pastiche-y and then Dave would to the studio, take it apart and build it back together. He’d replace guitars and synths and stuff like that and it’d end up sounding completely different to what you expected. We all went to Art School as well so we’re all used to that process of investigating and playing with stuff. That makes it much easier when it comes to writing the records and it helps the whole process.”
How They’re Preparing For A New Round Of Touring
“We’ve got four new songs up to the standard of playing live. We’ve got another week of rehearsals next week to get another track in there. Then we’ve got production rehearsals and stuff like that. Everything’s all sort of, coming at once.
We’ve got a lot of press, promo and T.V. coming just before the record comes out which kind of eats into rehearsal time. We’re in the same position now that we were at the end of touring. We’ve been writing for so long and recording for so long that we just can’t wait to get out and start playing these songs to people and get the album out there. We’re all excited about getting back out on the road. It’s just now waiting for those few extra weeks to get it done and get it out there. But yeh, we can’t wait to get the ball rolling again.”
On Touring Australia & Fans Response To New Django Django
“We haven’t had time to think about it really. During the whole writing process a lot of people were asking if we felt a lot of pressure. I don’t think we did really. It’s only when you get to the point where you realise, shit, we’re putting this record out and people are gonna be listening to it, you start getting a bit nervous. Just speaking to journalists and the media, they all seem to be into the record. Hopefully all the Django fans out there will like it but you just can’t tell, I have no idea.
I think we’ve been really lucky in the fans we get. There’s such a broad expanse. We just played a couple of warm-up shows in my hometown of Leeds and there were 15/16-year-old kids there as well as 60-year old guys so it just totally spans from kids to older guys. The thing that runs through all of these people is they’re all raw, music lovers. They all love going to gigs and buying records. I think that’s the one thing that holds Django fans together; they’re all total music lovers.
You go from show to show, country to country and you just get a completely different audience in different cities. It’s great though, it’s so much fun. We had the tour in Australia a couple of years ago and it was just totally mind-blowing. Some of the clubs we were playing at were 200-300 capacity and everybody was just totally up for it. It felt really special, you know. I think we’re lucky to have the fan base that we’ve got.”
Django Django’s new LP Born Under Saturn will be out May 1st via Warner.