London Grammar interview

Guitarist Dan Rothman fills us in on hearing his band’s tunes on reality singing competitions and counting a prime minister as a fan

London Grammar
L-R: Dot Majors, Hannah Reid and Dan Rothman
By Wong Boon Ken

Disclosure and Chvrches weren’t the only fledging UK bands making a name for themselves with stellar debut records last year. Nottingham trio London Grammar, consisting of vocal powerhouse Hannah Reid, guitarist Dan Rothman and multi-instrumentalist Dot Majors, can also look back on 2013 with satisfaction, having churned out brooding, moody trip-hop gems on maiden LP ‘If You Wait’. Following a gruelling North American tour that ended in April, Rothman fills us in on hearing his band’s tunes on reality singing competitions and counting a prime minister as a fan.

You guys just returned from a five-week North American tour. How was it?
It was good. It was very long, but it was good. It was an amazing experience.

What was the highlight of your trip?
SXSW, as a whole, was amazing. I’ve wanted to go to that festival for a while now and to play there was cool.

The band’s popularity has certainly soared since the release of your heavily praised debut record last year. Has your view of the album changed in any way?
I’d say it probably has, yes. I’m definitely a lot more bored of the songs – we must’ve played them about 150 times by now [laughs]. I’m now more aware of what an achievement it was making the album. It’s easy to forget how difficult it was to make it and how much it took out of us. I’m pleased with what we made and what we managed to achieve thus far.

You mentioned that you were bored with some of your current songs. Does that mean a new album is in the works?
I don’t know. There’s a lot of anxiety that will come into that – the nervousness of making another record, deciding what it is going to sound like and who we are going to make it with... we’ll have to go from the very beginning again, so I say ‘daunting’ would be the word. So all the positive reviews that you’ve received so far don’t help the process?
The good press the album has had makes it more difficult – people expect more from the second album. That’s happened so many times, when people just haven’t been able to make a brilliant second record. I don’t really think about it too much. As long as we don’t rush it and we don’t try forcing the album, it will come quite naturally.

We’ve been writing bits and bobs by ourselves. We used to do that a lot, writing ideas and bringing them together. Obviously, that’s much more of a rarity now since we don’t have as much time like we used to. We are still pretty busy for the rest of this year, with loads of festivals and few more tours after that. It will be pretty fucking busy. Realistically, I can’t imagine us starting concrete work on the new record until January next year.

It has certainly been a whirlwind 18 months for London Grammar. Even David Cameron is a self-professed fan.
I know [laughs]. Not our coolest fan.

What was your reaction when you first heard the news?
I thought it was funny. I don’t really give a shit whether he likes us or not – I certainly don’t mind if he does, but people can be a bit funny about these things. If they knew someone like him was listening to our music, they may not like it anymore because a fucking politician likes it. As far as we’re concerned, he’s just another guy who likes our music. It’s not a bad thing; just funny I guess.

You guys have made it onto reality TV as well. I heard ‘Strong’ being performed on ‘The Voice UK’ the other day.

Now that was weird. The funny thing is that it’s been performed on ‘The Voice’ now in three or four different countries. In France, the song went to the top of the iTunes chart because of the show. I don’t know how I feel about this, to be honest. I don’t really like it but I’m not too bothered either.

It helps us in terms of reaching more people, but it’s also kind of sad that ‘Strong’ had so much success in France on the back of its appearance on the show when the single had already been out for several months there. All this success is a bit worrying, the fact that the only way to reach that kind of audience now [is through shows like ‘The Voice’]. If you look at it like that, it can be kind of a negative thing.

The band’s ‘If You Wait’ LP is out in stores.