“Get a haircut, get a real job and stop dancing around,” Walt Disco frontman James Potter mock-scorns before announcing the spitting source of this anger: “The fucking gammons!”
Luckily, his band are far from worried about what anyone thinks about them. Chuck in an EP named after some vintage porn (‘Young Hard and Handsome’) and a music video featuring them frolicking around in the freezing Scottish sea as mermaids (‘Hey Boy (You’re One Of Us)’), and there’s not even a smidgeon of a chance that they’ll ever care what the boomers think about Walt Disco.
Boasting a refreshed line-up since NME last met the group for their NME 100 shoot, the Scottish six-piece are now ready to unleash their debut EP (the aforementioned ‘Young Hard and Handsome’) on the world. “Now that it’s six of us in the band, we’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to music,” Potter admits, mid-sip of his Cup-A-Soup, on Zoom. “It’s so nice being in a conventus group of people who are all wanting the same thing and just want to push those ideas further.”
And those ideas are big. From bringing along a five-piece choir they’d only practised with once to their BBC Music Introducing session in January to wearing wedding dresses during their flamboyant live shows, these aren’t gimmicks. They’re just part of the charming world of Walt Disco where whatever goes — as long as they’re having a laugh.
Self-expression, self-love and not caring about what anyone else thinks are huge players in the whole group ethos. “Being in the band helped us figure out how to express ourselves,” keys player Dave Morgan explains. “We all craved a band like Walt Disco when we were younger, just to look at. Even though there were so many great bands around, there wasn’t quite the one that we could look up to.”
It’s never been the case of fine-tuning both style and sound in order to marry them together, but instead a convenient coincidence that the six of them unwittingly match regularly. “A lot of the time we’re just throwing on clothes, slapping on make-up and then going: ‘Oh! We’re matching today!’ At the same time, we also just give each other a look and know if someone’s not looking quite right,” Potter adds, acknowledging that the main aim is just to have fun and look pretty with it.
This disregard for following the norm comes from the confidence that what Walt Disco are doing is working. With influences spanning from Scottish 80s post-punk legends The Associates, Simple Minds and Orange Juice to more recent female pop icons, notably Charli XCX, Grimes and St. Vincent, they’re not scared to wear these influences on their decorative, frilly white sleeves.
Take their upcoming EP. The theatrical ‘Hey Boy (You’re One Of Us)’ harks back to Adam Ant’s new romanticism while also echoing the beauty of a Welsh choral choir, whereas queer anthem ‘Heather’ is more end-of-the-night pop banger — it’s The Breakfast Club brought into the 21st century. The honesty in Walt Disco’s lyrics is also what sets the band apart from their peers: ‘Heather’ uncovers Potter’s experiences with understanding his gender, while “OK Boomer – The Musical”, aka ‘Cut Your Hair’, is a taunt at those who think it’s alright to judge others around them.
“Being in the band helped us figure out how to express ourselves. We all craved a band like Walt Disco when we were younger” – Dave Morgan
As well as exploring themselves in their upcoming EP, Walt Disco have also tried out new ways of recording. Well before lockdown hit, they paid a visit to Gang of Four’s Thomas McNeice at his RubberGum Studios in Glasgow to work on the tracks, having already collaborated with him on their first couple of singles. After reeling off McNeice’s interesting eating habits (he’s a big fan of Greek yoghurt, Crunchy Nut and scones, for those wondering), Walt Disco can’t help but admit their admiration for the musician/producer after learning so much “geeky production”.
“He basically wanted everyone out of the way so he could just sit and work with me,” Potter smirks. “It’s a small room down an alley, so when we were all there he was just getting annoyed as he doesn’t usually work with bands.” Most of the recording was done digitally, which differed from other studios where they’d usually record straight to tape. “We’re wanting to head towards a more hyper-pop sound, so it was exactly what we wanted,” Morgan adds, before admitting they’re planning to steal some of the “really geeky stuff” to use at home.
Good thing, too, as the band were then confined to their shared flat as the nation went into lockdown. Despite cancelled tours, including a slot at the prestigious SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, all was not lost. With the tracks sorted, all that was left to do was the videos and artwork. “If it weren’t for lockdown, the whole EP would have a completely different look,” Potter explains, before quickly adding: “Obviously a pandemic isn’t good, but we’ve managed to use the time productively.”
Back in May, Walt Disco released the “silly” home recording-style video for ‘Cut Your Hair’, which was filmed solely on an iPhone in Morgan’s bedroom (conveniently also the backdrop for our chat) and their garden. Once lockdown started to lift, they took it up a notch with the video for their most recent single ‘Oh Boy (You’re One Of Us)’, creating a weird amalgamation of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’ album artwork and Mamma Mia’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ beach scene. “We had to flip the original theme of a choir boy in a church due to the amount of people involved, so I thought ‘I like mermaids!’ and made it as camp as possible,” Potter explains, emphasising the “Walt Disco camp” element.
Despite having so much fun with their music, the band struggle to name a definitive career highlight. “I don’t think we’ve had that gig or moment yet,” Potter and Morgan agree in unison. Having started 2020 off afresh before the world then went on pause, things are only now just starting to kick off again for the six-piece — it surely won’t be too long until the self-loving, glam world of Walt Disco starts serving up memorable moment after moment. The gammons won’t know what’s hit them.
Walt Disco’s ‘Young, Hard and Handsome’ EP is out on September 30