Interview – London Grammar’s Dan Rothman
– by Shawn Conner
London Grammar is on its first big North American tour. The UK-based trio of Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman is touring in support of its full-length debut If You Wait. The album includes the recently released song “Strong” (see video below). The group’s sound is akin to that of Rhye, and comparisons to The xx have not been in short supply. Also, Sade. And maybe a little Everything But the Girl…
Which is something I would’ve liked to have asked Rothman about. Unfortunately we had a bad connection as the band drove north, out of San Francisco, continuing on its West Coast tour. Here’s what I was able to get before I lost the connection entirely.
Shawn Conner: In the Wikipedia entry on the band, it says that you sent Hannah a Facebook message after seeing a picture of her with a guitar.
Dan Rothman: It makes me sound creepier than it was in reality. I had already met her, and saw she had a picture on her Facebook page of her with a guitar. So I asked her if she played music. So it was sort of through Facebook that the band formed.
SC: How has the UK press been treating you?
DR: We’ve done some press that’s been more tabloid-based there. For Hannah in particular, she can say one thing and they’ll twist that. She did an interview, and they took something she said about the way she dressed and twisted it around.
SC: And then your girlfriend at the time introduced the two of you to Dot?
DR: She’s still my girlfriend. She knew Dot and knew that he was a drummer. We met at a house party. The next day we went around to his place and he had a drum kit.
SC: How has the sound changed or developed since then?
DR: It’s developed massively. It was quite acoustic to begin with. I used a loop pedal and that was kind of the backing music. Then Dot would play an African drum. It was really really simple, really stripped back at first. We got signed after a few demos we made. In the process of making the album, that’s where the sound developed to what it is now.
Video – London Grammar, “Strong”:
SC: Live, is it just the three of you? Do you use backing tracks?
DR: When we play live, we use a lot of triggers. Dot triggers everything. He plays a lot of electronic drums as well. It’s been tricky, trying to take what we recorded in the studio and do it live.
SC: Is this your first North American tour? You’ve played showcase gigs before, right?
DR: We played at the Troubadour for a showcase awhile back, and then again the other night. It was the first show we’d played in a small venue in a while. It’s not as party-like as the festivals can be. It was great – I think our music is better suited to that kind of venue.