London Grammar went from jamming together after meeting at Nottingham University in the UK, to clocking up YouTube hits in their thousands after the release of breakthrough single “Hey Now”.
Their EP Metal And Dust served only to increase the buzz surrounding the trio, composed of Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman. Reid’s soaring vocals have attracted comparisons to Florence Welch, as well as to The xx, which guitarist Dan Rothman doesn’t mind too much.
“It doesn’t bother me personally, I mean I love The xx,” Rothman explains.
“We met them recently and they were really lovely and just really supportive of what we were doing … I get the comparison because we’ve got that minimalist, electronic side when it comes to the songs, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. I mean, they’re an amazing band.”
Speaking to Rothman a few days ahead of a performance at Ibiza Rocks with AlunaGeorge, he concedes their presence might be a bit of out of place given the venue’s electronic music leanings.“A lot of pop music at the moment seems to throw as much on as you possibly can to make as much impact. We were always aware that less is more .”
“We’re not as up-tempo dance music but I hope people will like it. We’ll adapt the set slightly, we’ll avoid the more down-tempo acoustic numbers but to be honest, our sets are quite dynamic anyway and we have some up moments and some down moments … we tend to cater for everybody.”
Dynamic might be one term used to describe the luscious tones the band are known for, but Rothman describes the London Grammar sound slightly differently, emphasizing the importance of space.
“I think that’s the one area we have in common with The xx and bands like that, bands like Portishead and Burial,” Rothman says
“The way they make an effort not to over-produce their records and ensure there always that element of space and freedom in the arrangement so that Hannah’s vocal can sit on top of the record, instead of being overdubbed with loads of instrumentation.”
Rothman explains the trio were careful not to fall into the trap of overworking their material during recording.
“I think a lot of pop music at the moment seems to do that, throw as much on as you possibly can to make as much impact. I think we were always aware that less is more – if there’re three or four different things that are all individually very strong, that’s far better than to have 10 to 15 different things.”
The band are now preparing to release their debut LP, If You Wait. Rothman explains that while the process might have been a long one, it gave them ample opportunity to hone the London Grammar sound.
“There were moments where we got really lost in the studio. You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, if you’re doing the right thing, which is cool, you learn probably more from that than you do from making the right decisions a lot of the time,” Rothman laughs.“[Soundcloud] was undoubtedly the lead thing that put us out there. There was no push from the record label at first, it was just put the song up and see what happens.”
“I think with any band with their debut album, it’s that process of discovering your sound; when they’re on their second or third albums, they have more an idea of what they want to do in the studio.
“Not to say we didn’t have a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve, but there was no doubt that the sound developed over a period time.”
It was simply posting “Hey Now” on SoundCloud that thrust London Grammar into the spotlight. Although Rothman sagely acknowledges that while the internet is a valuable tool for the modern artist, quality will always rule over quantity.
“The thing about the internet and new bands is that if you have something of good quality … someone will find it, someone will play it and eventually whether it takes a month or six months it will get picked up by a blog or a radio station … so there’s no doubt that the internet is an incredibly important tool.”
While London Grammar might have had the early support of a label, the trio posted the now critically-acclaimed track to SoundCloud just to see what might happen.
“For us, it was undoubtedly the lead thing that put us out there. I think it’s extraordinary because even for us, we were signed already and we had the support of a record label [but] there was no push from the record label at first, it was just put the song up and see what happens.”
As for what’s coming up for the band, Rothman remains humble about the release and indicates that plans for the trio are fairly straightforward.
“[We’re] releasing the album in September and then really just gigging it, going on tour in the UK, in America, Australia which we’re very excited about – most excited about really, because we’ve never been there … And just pray people like the album basically!”
If You Wait is out September 6th through Dew Process. Check out our write up in our New Record Report. London Grammar are also headed to Australia over New Year’s as part of the Falls Festival 2013 Lineup.
Falls Festival 2013 Dates
Marion Bay, TAS: December 29, 2013 – January 01, 2014 (All Ages)
Byron Bay, NSW: December 31, 2013 – January 03, 2014 (18+)
Lorne, VIC: December 28, 2013 – January 01, 2014 (18+)
Ticket ballot now open at http://fallsfestival.com.au/