If 2012 belonged to the likes of Emile Sandé, Adele and Ed Sheeran, last year was all about Disclosure, Rudimental – and London Grammar.
As well as their own number two album, If You Wait, the trio from London also featured on Disclosure’s number 1 album, Settle, with the track Help Me Lose My Mind.
They’ve been duly rewarded with a worthy nomination for British Breakthrough Act at this year’s Brits on February 19, three days after the Birmingham date on their latest UK tour.
“The three of us obviously hoped that our album would do well, but we were fully aware of how difficult it can be for bands to break through,” says guitarist Dan Rothman, who first met vocalist Hannah Reid at university in Nottingham.
“When Hey Now (from their debut EP Metal & Dust) started getting a lot of blog attention quite quickly, it was a bit of a surprise. From then the growth has been fast but steady, so it’s been manageable in that sense. It must be hard for artists who suddenly have a number one hit record, someone like Lorde for example.
“We certainly felt the pressure at first, and that did prevent us from really enjoying what was happening to begin with,” he admits.
“But as our confidence has grown we have been able to take stock of everything and feel grateful for the year we have had. We were in Australia over the new year and that was the perfect time and place for us to reflect.”
With Hannah’s haunting, powerful, plaintive vocals coupled with Dan on guitar and Dominic Major on drums and piano, the London Grammar sound is at once both beautiful and sombre. Hannah’s voice has been likened to both Florence (and the Machine) Welch and Judie Tzuke, while the music has been described as everything from trip-hop to a blend of ambient and classical sounds.
“People often say they are surprised at how upbeat and excitable the three of us are,” Dan says.
“We are definitely not as sombre as our music might suggest. When we are working in a studio, however, different emotions come out.”
Following the success of Metal & Dust in February 2013, the trio continued the success with Wasting My Young Years in June 2013, which peaked at number 31 on the UK singles chart, the same month they charted as part of the Disclosure track. September saw the release of Strong, which peaked at number 16; later that month they released their début studio album If You Wait, which reached number two.
“There are so many highlights from last year, moments that stand out in all our minds,” says Dan.
“There was our first trip to Maida Vale for BBC Radio 1; shooting the video for Strong in LA, or when we performed on Jools Holland. But one that we all often think of was the day we played Glastonbury in the summer. Not only is it an honour to play the festival, but we played a great set and we could sense the excitement around us. That is something that every band dreams of having.”
One of the delights of seeing London Grammar live is their spine-tingling cover version of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. Be warned, however, it may not be around for too much longer.
“I don’t think we are likely to release it properly, as it was really something that was just intended for the Zane Lowe’s Maida Vale session,” Dan admits.
“We all love the song and there is a brilliant remix of it by Richie Hawtin, which we got inspiration from. We started playing it at shows and everyone seemed to really like it so we carried on doing so. But we all feel it’s now time to lay that cover to rest, at least when it comes to playing it live.
“We seem to get a fair few requests to do covers now. We recently did a fun one for Fearne Cotton’s Live Lounge, where we did Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. There will definitely be a new cover coming soon!”
* London Grammar play the O2 Academy Birmingham on February 16 and Wolverhampton Civic Hall on June 6. For details visit: www.londongrammar.com