London Grammar’s debut album was a Mercury prize favourite before it was even released, it’s still in the top 10 after it’s release 5 weeks ago and they’ve just announced that their snazzy cover of Kavinsky’s Nightcall is their new single. So how are they handling the hype?
Words: Russell Dean Stone
Photography: Mads Perch
London Grammar – Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman – are not in a hurry. They know that good things come to those who wait and they have been playing the long game right from the start. Signed to Ministry of Sound (the now home to their imprint label Metal & Dust) and have spent 18 months crafting a debut album that hits you right in the heart. It seems lazy to compare London Grammar to The xx but it is a fitting comparison, since they inhabit that same space in sound, making uncluttered emotional soundscapes that are the perfect framing for Hannah’s unique vocals. We talked to them about their slow climb to the pinnacle of success and also about crying and puking. Sorry.
A hell of a lot of people really love you, how’s that been making you feel?
DR: It’s amazing. It’s all becoming more real the last few weeks.
Are you worried there will be a backlash?
H: It’s inevitable that the bigger you become the more people are going to turn around and say that they hate your music. It’s part of the job.
Have you been reading all your YouTube comments and stuff?
DM: I never read them.
H: I don’t believe you.
DM: I really enjoy it when there’s a really angry comments.
I listened to your album and I was crying by about two songs in.
DM: You must’ve been a wreck by the end!
It was emotional.
H: What’s weird is, people cry to If You Wait, but when I wrote it I wasn’t crying, which makes me worried. Maybe I’m just so sad inside I don’t even realise.
Are you worried you’re going to go out on tour and just be playing to rooms full of crying people?
DM: Just a flood of tears in a lake on the floor.
DR: I always think back to that guy at Latitude, the nutter in the front row who was sobbing through the whole set. Do you remember that?
H: I don’t think that ever happened.
H: I saw that guy but he was not crying, in fact I think he was just really fucked, he was trying to sing a long but he just didn’t know the words…
DM: He was probably gurning more than crying.
Your album is probably going to be the kind of album that means a lot to people. What records mean a lot to you?
H: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Michael Jackson’s Number Ones.
Fine choices. Hannah, you’ve said Michael Jackson is an influence on your singing. Is that right?
H: I mean he has and he hasn’t, obviously I don’t try and sound like Michael Jackson…
So there are no “shamones” on the London Grammar album.
DM: There’s a few on the deluxe edition.
H: I think it terms of song writing I do follow classic pop structures. He is one of many singers, but he’s the best one.
You worked with Tim Bran and one of our favourite producers Roy Kerr on your album. How was that?
H: Tim is amazing at recording, of finding the best way of recording a guitar or my vocal. Roy had the strongest relationship with Dot and they worked on production together. It was perfect really.
DR: Roy is a bit of a ledge.
Are you still getting nervous at shows, Hannah? When was the last time you puked?
H: A few weeks ago. It’s fine, you just puke and then afterwards you’re fine. Then the next time just get really scared all over again. I’m better than I was.
What made you put your cover of Kavinsky’s Night Call on the album?
DR: That was Roy’s idea.
DM: There are a few bits and pieces we wrote that might end up on the second album and one of them Hannah always used to sing the Night Call vocal over that. It was in your brain and then we had all listened to the Drive soundtrack a lot. It was actually when we were in the studio when Roy specifically said let’s do this.
Having heard you do a few covers I think you can kind of London Grammar anything.
DM: We’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t become too much of a formula.
Have any of you had a Spice Girls-style moment and threatened to quit the band?
DM: Every time before we play a show.
DR: I would never threaten that because I have nothing else to do.
So it’d be an empty threat.
DR: You wouldn’t believe me if I threatened to quit would you?
H: I don’t know. You do chat a lot of shit.