London Grammar interview: ‘People don't necessarily know who we are’

The Nottingham University alumni have emerged as one of Britain’s biggest bands. Shame they don’t get recognised at their own gigs...

For London Grammar, misery has become quite the commodity. The shadowy yet calmly accessible songs of Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dominic ‘Dot’ Major have hurtled the early twenties trio into the mainstream at a speed not seen in years. Two big London gigs this June sold out instantly. Their Mercury-nominated debut LP ‘If You Wait’ has taken residency near the top of the album charts since its release in September and to cap it all, they’re nominated as Best Breakthrough Act at The BRIT Awards 2014. It feels like a category they’ve already outgrown.

Their success stems from songs that are both melancholic and heart-tuggingly anthemic. ‘If You Wait’ is as moody as Massive Attack, as forlorn (and foghorn) as Florence and as sullen as The XX. Yet beyond the sales, the clicks and the awards, who exactly are London Grammar? And what do they love about the city which gave them their name? Keep reading, all will be revealed…

You’ve just come back from a string of worldwide dates. Are you glad to be home?

Hannah ‘I loved New York and Australia, but whenever we’re landing in Heathrow and I see the glittering lights of London, nothing compares.’
Dan ‘When we got back just the smell of London was special; when we walked through the arrival gates everything felt amazing.’

Your music is pretty weepy. Are you emotional people?

Dan ‘I began crying more with age, but this band has made me cry. I think it’s part of becoming an older Jewish man, you become more emotional. My grandfather said when he hit 25 he started crying more, and that’s what happened to me.’
Dot ‘I used to cry loads when I was a young kid – much later than I should have been crying. I used to get the wobbly lip and everyone would notice. But now I don’t ever cry.’

Have you cried in front of each other?
Dot ‘Yeah we did all once cry together in a coffee shop.’
Dan ‘Fucking hell. I cannot believe you just said that. It was awful. It was while we were making the record.’
Dot ‘Dan went first, let me just put that out there.’

You all live in the city. Have you started to get recognised?
Hannah ‘It hasn’t really happened. I think that’s the nice thing about London Grammar – people like the music but don’t necessarily know who we are.’
Dan ‘I am literally the most unrecognisable person in the world. I go on stage first as my guitar is on stage. On a few occasions people don’t actually cheer until they see Hannah or
Dot because they don’t recognise me. The other day I went out to watch the support band, there were 500 people there. Not one person looked at me.’

When you’re not on tour, what are your favourite London spots?
Hannah ‘I’m from Shepherd’s Bush, so my girlfriends and me tend to hang out fairly locally. There’s a place called The Aeronaut which used to be quite a notorious Australian bar but now it’s just a really great pub. I like Notting Hill Arts Club too, and when I was growing up I’d go to clubs like The End and The Egg.’
Dan ‘I went to the Chicken Shop in Kentish Town three times in a week recently. But growing up in Mill Hill I would often get stoned with friends rather than go out drinking normally.’

Your music is a perfect soundtrack to a London night bus journey. Do you have a favourite route?
Hannah ‘The N207 is my favourite; it takes me back home to my front door and I’d normally listen to Michael Jackson on the way.’
Dan ‘The 240 is my bus. There’s this myth about a guy who takes it, he used to be a doctor. His house burned down and he lost his wife in the fire. He roamed the streets of Edgware and used to get the 240 but only in tinfoil pants.’

Why is London such a great place for music?

Hannah ‘It’s got music coming out of its ears. You can walk into any bar in Camden and there will be really decent music. There are a couple of amazing club nights in the city at the moment – I like going to an old- school R&B night at The Flyover in Portobello called So Fresh So Clean which is run by identical twins.’

You’re nominated for the British Breakthrough Act at this year’s BRITs – if you win where will you keep your award?

Hannah ‘I’ve heard a good place to keep it is in your fridge so if a guest comes over it’s just sitting in there next to the milk. But I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to win.’

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