Late Of The Pier - Better Late Than Never
Psychedelic rave pop isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, if the popularity of Brit four-piece Late of the Pier is anything to go by. Channelling the sort of sounds Klaxons brought forth with their 2007 debut – albeit with added surrealism (if that’s possible) – local fans will get their first chance to catch the crew when they play Field Day 2009. Words by 3d’s cyclone.
Klaxons should be watching their backs. Late of the Pier have put the glam into nu-rave, their debut, Fantasy Black Channel, among 2008’s best. The Brits are clashing Queen’s theatrical rock with Gary Numan’s grungy electro, eccentric prog rock, Timbaland’s futurism, and Justice’s sweaty danceability.
The quartet – Samuel Eastgate (vocals and guitar), Andrew Faley (bass), Sam Potter (keys) and Ross Dawson (drums) – crystallised around 2005. Theirs has been a rapid – and hype-driven – ascendance. Anticipation for the Erol Alkan-stamped Fantasy Black Channel was mounting months prior to its release but, says Eastgate, the band stayed level-headed.
“It was confusing ’cause releasing an album is something that you’re never gonna be really prepared for. So, anything normal involved with releasing an album, like doing your first press days, having the first reviews of it coming out, playing singles on TV and all that kinda stuff, you know it’s gonna happen, but somehow it just seems so bizarre.
“For us there was this definite heightened expectation ’cause of the timing of it. A lot of the material had been played at festivals already and so everybody knew what could be heard on the album, but they weren’t sure how well it was gonna come across.
“It was this really weird thing, but the way we dealt with it in the end was to be relaxed. We were just really confident about the record, we were really happy with the recording process, and there was literally nothing we could do but let people hear it and decide for themselves. Luckily, we got some great reviews early on – and they carried on like that.”
LOTP all hail from working-class backgrounds and were raised in the romantically named (but dull) town of Castle Donington.
“The castle is no longer there,” Eastgate says slyly. “I think it got pulled apart and the bricks that used to be the castle now make up a nursing home [the castle was demolished in 1595, with only a mound remaining]... It’s just nowhere, really. If you imagine the most indistinct little town – which has a bit of charm, I suppose... But the fact that we lived there, the only thing that influenced us was that it was in the middle of nowhere. That’s Castle Donington.”
Eastgate was the last to join LOTP, impressing his pals as a potential frontman when he drunkenly freestyled some Dr Dre lyrics.â€¨Many reviewers have compared LOTP’s music to that of David Bowie, but the lads were all born in the late ’80s after his prime. Fortunately, they had hip parents.
“I think when you grow up, the music that’s being played around you is the music of your parents and the music that they’ve lived with – and even some music that was made before they were born, in rare cases – and you don’t question that. When you’re a child, you don’t really think, ‘When was this music made-’ You just see it as your world around you.
“I was lucky ’cause my parents were really enthusiastic music listeners through some good eras. They grew up in the late ’60s and then they were teenagers in the late ’70s and all that time they were collecting and listening to music. At some point my mum and dad were both in bands and so, for me growing up, that world felt instinctively right – instruments and records.
“Me and my dad would probably be talking about a record 90 per cent of the time. My dad had a load of equipment to produce stuff at home, so I grew up around that and picked it up when I was about 12 – just started making music of my own.”
Eastgate discovered that the others in LOTP had similar ideas about pop, past, present and future.
“We just felt like all this old music was incredibly relevant. The stuff that we identified as ‘modern’ harked back to those kinda things, but took a step forward as well.”
LOTP were influenced, too, by their (underage!) partying at Nottingham’s Liars Club, which hosted a who’s who of cutting-edge bands. One of these was our Cut Copy.
“They were heavily into Fleetwood Mac. We hadn’t really heard that kind of stuff, but we felt like they were going on a journey through time with their music. When you’ve stood in front of a band, and it feels like you’re not just being told, ‘This is the new sound, this is what people are doing right now,’ but they’re actually giving you a mirror of the past as well – we were genuinely excited by what those guys were doing.
“There were a few other guys who were doing really cool stuff at that club, like Les Georges Leningrad. We could never really work out what they were doing. They were completely the other end of the spectrum – just dressed in wrestling suits and making a lot of noise, basically. But it all seemed relevant to an older way of making music, whether it be more theatrical or just more dreamlike.”
LOTP won fans – astute teenage fans – in London at the all-ages Way Out West night. (Endearingly, when the band arrived in the capital, they shacked up with Eastgate’s grandma, even losing their way to her crib – rock n roll, not.)â€¨LOTP first aired Space & The Woods, which subversively deconstructs emo, early last year. The cult UK DJ Erol Alkan heard the single, loved it, and offered to oversee their next, Bathroom Gurgle. He’s since worked on Fantasy Black Channel, which LOTP have issued on their own label, Zarcorp, through Virgin EMI. LOTP may command a young fanbase, but they’re also appealing to an older demographic who miss the arty bands of their youth like Echo & The Bunnymen. Hate mushy R&B- The beguiling LOTP are for you. Yet, while the four are out-there, they’re not pretentious.
LOTP have posted their hermetic lyrics online, but don’t ask Eastgate to decipher them.
“A lot of it I couldn’t pinpoint what I was talking about myself,” he divulges. “There’s a large part of the lyrics on the album that I’ve never written down, because I don’t think that some of them are real words – like when it goes really hectic towards the end of the album, a lot of that stuff is just garbled! It’s more rhythmical. Sometimes when you hear a word and it’s well placed within a rhythm or a melody, it’s so much more powerful than well chosen words that don’t have a melody to carry them.
“There’s a few songs that touch on confusion, because it’s a really easy emotion to convey within our music when you’ve got all these different sounds and you’ve got a lot of different things going on with the music. Confusion just happens, anyway!”
WHO: Late of the Pier
WHAT: Play Field Day at The Domain / Fantasy Black Channel through Parlophone / EMI
WHEN: Thursday 1 January / Out now
MORE: fuzzy.com.au / lateofthepier.com