- 02 Dec 13
London Grammar are the hottest newcomers in pop, no matter what the Mercury panel thinks.
London Grammar’s smoky, mysterious debut, If You Wait, was regarded as a strong favorite to win the 2013 Mercury Prize. Or at least it was until – doh! – it failed to make the shortlist. Cue howls of indignation from the trio’s media cheerleaders, their record label, fans... everyone except the band themselves, in fact.
“That was really funny,” says keyboard-player Dot Major, tucked up on a tour bus in Lille. “Our album was touted as a favourite before it had even come out. What a strange time that was. It was very odd, to be in the middle of a story like that. You read about how it’s reported and you know the truth – it was an eye-opener.
“What helped is that our record was actually released a few days before the nominations were announced. So that seemed to take the attention away. By the time the Mercury thing turned into a big deal, the album was already on its way to being a hit.”
Formed in 2009, the group is fronted by Hannah Reid, a photogenic vocalist who’s already become something of a cause celebre among fashionistas. Not that there’s anything shallow about her – indeed, as a lyricist, she swims in murky waters, with songs that frankly discuss early 20-something disenfranchisement and her struggles with making sense of the world.
“People listen to our music and get the impression we’re very melancholy,” says Dot. “They meet us and are surprised to discover that, actually, we’re quite normal – chirpy even.”
Unheard of as recently as the summer, it could be argued London Grammar have led a charmed existence. Fame has come knocking without any tremendous effort on their part – on their first proper tour they’re playing the sort of venues many artists spend years trying to reach.
However, life isn’t as easy as all that. Recording If You Wait was a fraught experience, says Major. The group had to travel to a dark place and it wasn’t always clear that they would make it out the other side.
“We had some issues. I suppose, if you’re a new band, discovering your sounds and parameters can be a trying time. Now that the record is done, I feel a weight has lifted.”
Dot says London Grammar received the first taste of stardom playing Dublin’s Longitude Festival in July, where they had the curious experience of being mobbed at a chip-van.
“That was really weird because it was so early on. If felt as if we’d arrived in Ireland even before we had in the UK. Me and Hannah went to get a burger after our performance and had all these people coming up looking for autographs and photographs.”
London Grammar play the Academy, Dublin on December 3