Sign up for our weekly newsletter
TRCH The Da Vinci Code

London Grammar

19 August 13 words: Stephanie Parkes
"I used to see a lot of gigs at the Rescue Rooms. It’s just the perfect venue for up-and-coming bands"

Can you give me a quick overview of what you all do in the band?
To be honest it’s generally a collaborative effort as we write most of the music together but Hannah sings, writes almost all of the lyrics, I play guitar and Dot takes care of the electronic stuff.

So we know that you guys formed at University of Nottingham, but how did you meet?
I met Hannah in my first year of uni, we were in the same halls and I met her through my girlfriend, they’re really good friends so she introduced us. Hannah always says that I saw a picture of her with a guitar on Facebook and I asked her if she played music, then when I heard her voice I was blown away by it. We met Dot a year later, he was in the year below us and we met him through my girlfriend. He just slotted straight in and that was it, we were London Grammar.

How did you find being a young band and living in Nottingham, did you find the scene very accepting?
Yeah, I thought that the scene was great. You know in terms of lots of places to play and people willing to give us gigs, it was really good. Nottingham is where we first honed some of our skills and especially for Hannah who hadn’t really performed live before. She played her very first gigs in Nottingham’s bars and clubs.

Can you remember any of those first gigs?
I remember playing a couple of shows at The Bag O' Nails, which was a student bar on one of the main strips. We also played a show in The Bodega for a night called Sounddhism and that was the first show where we played only our own material, so it has always had a good place in my memory.

What are your favourite Notts chill-out spots?
I used to see a lot of gigs at the Rescue Rooms and I always loved that venue. It’s just the perfect venue for up-and-coming bands. It’s big enough that you can get a good crowd in there but small enough to be intimate. We’re playing there in October and for me it’s one of the most exciting dates on the tour.

After you guys finished University you had quite a long beak where you didn’t put any material out, why do you think you waited so long?
It was a strange situation because we came out of University and we had just been ‘spotted’ from a show we did in London. I hate that phrase, but we kind of were ‘spotted’ and that kicked off a lot of interest in our music. We kind of went through a mill that we didn’t want to be going through, so we had to take a step back. We found a manager and decided that the best thing to do would be to take some time out of the limelight to write and record our material. We just locked ourselves away in my garage and wrote a load of songs, soon after we signed a development deal with a indie label and a year later we felt like it was the right time to release the first track.

When did you decide what direction you wanted the album to go in?
Well we developed over the recording process, it’s a natural thing and I think that was always the idea. Really we we’re just waiting for the sound to develop with us and I think about halfway through we got a rough idea of how we wanted the album to sound. I think the issue that evolved from that was how were we going to take the songs we’d written and create an album that aesthetically sounded quite similar the whole way through, because having quite a consistent sounding record was something we really wanted to do.

Where do you find the inspiration for your songs, do you all pitch in with ideas?
A lot of the songs are written in the rehearsal room in my garage, for example Hey Now was a song that came from a jam where Hannah just repeated some phrases. She tends to write her lyrics after the song is formed, then she will sit down and scribble some lyrics out. Her inspirations are generally from her own experiences, but really when it comes to the music it originates from all different places.

London Grammar Interview

London Grammar chat to LeftLion

You’ve mentioned that you want the whole album to sound fairly similar, but some of the tracks like Metal and Dust and Flickers are a lot more optimistic than some of your songs, did you think that was an important aspect of creating the album?
Well those tracks in particular were written quite early on in the process, Flickers was one of the only tracks on the album where I wrote the lyrics with Hannah, which is probably why it’s a bit happier (laughs). I think that we just felt like we needed those two tracks on the album because they were representative of what we were going very early on. Although the continuity of our aesthetic was important, we didn’t necessarily want the whole album to be very sad or down tempo throughout. It’s another side to us that does exist but for the album we primarily chose to have it as one style.

How did your collaboration with Disclosure come about?
The Disclosure work came about because when we we’re looking for our management originally we met with their managers, but they we’re just starting out at that time. We stayed in touch with them and they showed our songs to the two boys who really liked it and asked Hannah to sing on a track. It all happened really quickly, we were just in the studio and it was all done in around two days.

Do you think that process was different to yours because it was faster or was it just weird having somebody else working with your sound?
For me it was just great to be in the studio with them and hangout in a different environment. It was a funny experience because when Hannah first sang the vocal we weren’t sure how much we liked the song and we were worried that they would think it was really bad. Thankfully when we went into the studio the next day they were really excited about it, so it was kind of a weird thing, but that track has really grown on me and I really love it now. It was a cool experience.

So after this summer you will have played most of the UK’s major festivals, presumably you couldn’t have imagined that last year, how does that feel?
It’s amazing, we’re just really grateful that everyone who comes to watch us and have asked us to play. I’ve certainly never done it before and it’s all very new. Pretty much every gig we go to we’re just overwhelmed by it and seeing people singing the songs can be quite emotional.

What can we expect from a live London Grammar set up?
It’s just the three of us, me on guitar, Hannah singing and Dot doing pretty much everything else. It’s quite funny to see because he has this ability to multi-task like no other man has ever multi-tasked… ever. I don’t know how he does it, even though we spent a lot of time working on the setup. We have managed to fluke a system, but it does mean that Dot has to play keys, drums, pads and synths all simultaneously. Other than that I think it’s mostly Hannah’s exceptional vocal and Dot just doing lots of things (Laughs).

Which tracks should we look out for on the new album?
I like a song called Shyer and think that another track If You Wait is really beautiful.

If you could compare yourselves to somebody who would it be?
That’s weird because we normally get comparisons thrown at us rather than asking what we think, I’d like to think that we were a mix between Eurythmics and The Police, that’s my ideal.

London Grammar play Rescue Rooms on Tuesday 22 October 2013. Their debut album If You Wait is released on 9 September 2013.

London Grammar's Website

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now