London Grammar are a live powerhouse. The trio – made up of frontwoman Hannah Reid and multi-instrumentalists Dot Major and Dan Rothman – shine on-stage, their unique art-pop fusing Reid’s distinctive vocals with lush electronics, trip-hop beats and meticulous production.
Their show at Mad Cool 2022 is no exception – and also comes with the perfect backdrop of the sun setting over the festival. Starting while it’s still light, the elegant title track of their latest record ‘Californian Soil’ is accompanied by the beating Spanish sun, but by the time we reach the wild closer of ‘Lose Your Head’ it’s dark out, the band’s strobing light show on full display.
“It was a lot of fun,” Dot tells NME shortly after the band get off stage. “It’s the first festival we’ve done in quite a while and the crowd was amazing.”
We caught up with the band to discuss touring with Coldplay, their upcoming South Facing show and to get an update on album four.
Hey London Grammar! Your latest album ‘Californian Soil’ sees you at your most upbeat – did you have the live setting in-mind when writing the record?
Hannah: “I think we did have it in our minds, and I think with our first record you never think you’re going to play a song live and then as our live career took off, now it’s something we do think about.”
Dot: “The second one we knew we were going to play it loads live!”
Dan: “That’s the weird thing!”
Dot: “I think we were playing so much live when we went to write the second one, that it was almost like a bit of rebellion against it.”
And you’ve got your massive South Facing headline show coming up in London. Is there anything special planned for that?
Dot: “Yes – George Fitzgerald is playing most importantly. He was a big part of this last record, so it’s going to be really special to be able to share the stage with him. He actually played with us when we did this livestream when we couldn’t perform live at the start [due to lockdown], so I’m sure we’ll do a few more things with him before so we can work out a way to play together again.”
Alongside your own shows, you’ve also got the Coldplay support shows – including at Wembley Stadium. Who’s going to be saying “hello Wembley?”
Dan: “Oh, I didn’t even think about this and now that’s the only thing I’m going to now think about.”
Hannah: [pointing at Dot] “Definitely Dot.”
You’ve already done your first show with them in Frankfurt, how was it?
Dot: “It was pretty mad to be honest, it’s the first stadium show we’ve done, and the first show we’ve done in a little while, so it was kind of crazy.”
Hannah: “It was a bit tumbleweed for the first few songs, a few hot dogs being eaten at the back; but it was great.”
Dot: “Also you just feel so tiny, I saw some videos of us after and you look like little ants.”
When you spoke to NME a few months back, you mentioned that work might have begun on album four. How much work has gone on since then?
Dan: “I think it’s something we’ve been working on, throughout the pandemic we’ve been working on it, and quite a lot’s been done. There’s a lot of writing that’s been done, and I think then you sort of get to that position of whittling it down, and getting into the nitty-gritty of production. There’s plenty more writing I’m sure to be done still as well, but I think we’ve definitely got the body of what feels like a very exciting record to us.”
Are there any new sounds being explored?
Dot: “Dan’s started playing the nose flute…”
Dan: “It’s funny, I think with sound we do get fairly experimental in the studio, and it’s just sort of, I think what comes out. And it’s only really afterwards when you reflect on it and are like ‘Oh, maybe we were listening to that a lot at the time’, and then you can hear it in the music, and it sort of becomes…Hannah always said it about her lyrics being a stream of consciousness, and I think the music is sometimes in a sense can be a bit like that as well”
Are you working with any collaborators, like George Fitzgerald again?
Dot: “We’re still working with George,”
Hannah: “We’ve kind of done most of it ourselves, so far, but we will definitely…I think that’s the next stage is exploring pushing the music through collaborations and seeing what, what happens.”
London Grammar headline South Facing festival at Crystal Palace Bowl in London on July 29. Visit here for tickets and more information.
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NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022