Beneath virtually every live clip of The Last Dinner Party, a familiar question seems to pop up again and again: where can I hear more? An elusive band that only exists live on stage, the answer up until now has been simple – get down to one of their shows.
Punters lucky enough to catch one of their early gigs at Moth Club, The Windmill, or XOYO – or indeed, those furiously playing catch-up on YouTube – would’ve been greeted by the sight of a five-piece clad in velveteen, mediaeval garments, but (so far, anyway) without a single lute or mandolin in sight. Instead channelling the melodrama of Queen, the dad-rock swagger of Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ and shades of art-pop – including new wavers Sparks and The B-52s – the well-earned buzz surrounding the NME 100 stars has echoes of the feral excitement that followed Savages’ earliest live shows at The Macbeth. As ringleader Abigail Morris puts it, neatly summarising their stylings: “We’re just five dads trapped in gorgeous young bodies.”
The band’s origin story isn’t “particularly romantic,” concedes bassist Georgia Davies, who first met guitarist and backing vocalist Lizzie Mayland at their uni halls on a quest for beer. Later that week, the pair bumped into and befriended Abigail at New Cross boozer Marquis of Granby. Emily Roberts (lead guitar) and Aurora Nischevi (keys), who later completed the band’s line-up, both come from more classical backgrounds and studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. “I think it’s really lucky that we’ve all come from such different places musically,” Abigail says.
After over a year honing their identity on the live circuit, The Last Dinner Party are now ready to shatter at least some of the secrecy they’ve built up with the release of their debut single, ‘Nothing Matters’. NME caught up with the five-piece at Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema to find out more about the best new band few people have heard yet.
You’ve been sitting on ‘Nothing Matters’ for a very long time now. How are you feeling about the prospect of finally hatching it?
Emily: “It’s gonna be weird. We’ve gone so long without releasing anything, so it’s going to be odd.”
Georgia: “I’m kind of going to miss our era of being like, ‘Yeah, we don’t have any songs.’ It’s kind of a flex to be like, ‘We’ve got nothing out, come to the show’. We’ve worked so hard on the songs and the recording of the songs, and everything. The build up has been immense. So yeah, it will be a relief to get out there, and show our families!
Abigail: “It’s a real job, mom!”
So, why did you choose to go about things in that way?
Abigail: “I think it’s more fun for us, and for an audience. The live show is such an important part of us as a band, and we wanted to start to build a kind of community and an idea around the live shows before putting out music. We wanted to kind of start it in an organic, old fashioned way. It’s more fun to have it being this human thing you have to go and see and share.”
You mentioned you’ve been recording quite a bit. Is there a finished album hidden away somewhere?
Abigail: “I don’t know if we’re at liberty to answer that question. It’s coming, you know, it’s alive. We did it in Church Studios in Crouch Hill, with [Arctic Monkeys and Foals producer] James Ford, who’s a fucking wonderful, kind, talented man, who really just understood us in a way that no one else has musically. It was just a complete dream come true. There’s been so much intensity around us for so long, so it was nice to have that month of peace.”
Georgia: “We’ll have more music by the end of the year.”
Aurora: “Some things that we play now are not on there, but they might come back in the future.”
Abigail: “I feel like the album, in its state now, wouldn’t be the case if we hadn’t been playing live for so long. We were really able to do a lot of experimenting and feeling the emotion of the songs live, and I think that’s informed it.”
“The live show is such an important part of us as a band”
We’re right around the corner from The Windmill, where you played one of your earliest shows. What kind of role has that venue and the scene around it played in the journey of The Last Dinner Party?
Abigail: “When we first moved to London, we would go every week. Something felt exciting and alive about it, especially with bands like Black Midi and HMLTD. They were also doing it in this way that started with playing live first, and there’s this whole mystery around it”.
Georgia: “I feel like The Windmill scene is going to be looked back on as this musical ethos, and its own genre and scene. It felt like being part of something going to those gigs. We didn’t really realise it at the time, but it was like conducting research.”
Abigail: “I wouldn’t say we’re a south London Windmill band, per se, but I think it’s definitely informed our history. Our M.O. is maximalism, having fun, trying really hard, at all times.”
That sense of fun seems to be the total anthesis of a lot of very earnest indie bands, whose whole schtick is being very nonchalant and accidentally talented, almost…
Abigail: “Nonchalance is a dirty word! We just want to have fun. We want to be happy. And I think that’s what we want people to take away when they come.”
Aurora: “And not being apologetic about it!”
Georgia: “People are always going to try and drag you down for trying hard, but so be it.”
Last summer you supported The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, as a band without a debut single. How surreal was that?
Lizzie: “I did wonder if we were all just going to explode.”
Georgia: “It was one of the best days of my life. I remember pulling up to the stage and the back of it was like a cathedral.”
Abigail: “However, now we have a vendetta against Mick Jagger because he snubbed us. I’m going on record, NME: Mick Jagger’s a hack. Sam Fender and Courtney Barnett were also opening for them, and then Mick Jagger got up on stage, and was like, ‘I’d like to thank our support acts’. We were all standing there like, ‘Oh my god. He’s gonna say our name! Everything will be right in the world’. And then he said, ‘Courtney Barnett and Sam Fender… you guys are amazing.’ We all started screaming ‘justice’ and it all got a bit out of hand. His days are numbered.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to Mick on the matter?
Abigail: “I want it on Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus levels. When we win a BRIT, I’ll be like, ‘Shout out to Mick, the guy who had nothing to say about me! What a sad little life, Mick.’”
The Last Dinner Party’s debut single ‘Nothing Matters’ is out now