English broodsters London Grammar got our attention with the soaring Hey Now back in 2013. Now the trio are back with Truth Is a Beautiful Thing (TIABT), a personal, 11-track voyage through the band’s lives since their debut four years ago (If You Wait). According to guitarist Dan Rothman, this album’s songwriting process was a lot more cohesive than in the past.
“The songs generally come from different places, which is definitely what happened on the first album, and that was good,” he says. “But I think for this one our roles became slightly more defined, and because of that we were more regimented on this record – we were more settled into a process on this one.” He laughs that they may have fallen in to too much of a routine, and adds: “I think if anything we were maybe too settled – we should probably throw that out the window and mix it up again for the next record.”
The first single from TIABT was released around the world on New Year’s Day – when, of course, no one was at their desks ready to rave about it. Rothman said this was very much a conscious decision from the group. “We were still tinkering with our album at that point,” he says. “I think I knew – and it always seems to be me – I knew we needed to put something out, ’cause otherwise we would just go mad. We made the decision to release new music on January 1, which was a great idea in some ways because it was a really interesting time to release it. But from a press point of view, it was terrible, because no one works during that time – literally no one wrote about it, or gave a sh-t, but I think that was nice – in a way it was like the antithesis of trying to do it with a big song and dance.” This record’s heavier tones find their progenitors in film soundtracks, with Rothman naming big guns Hans Zimmer and Philip Glass as influences.
He and lead vocalist Hannah Reid also have a shared interest in Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. “Me and Hannah were listening to a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder – Into The Wild, a film that we like, and one we just happen to really like the soundtrack to. It’s got a bit of a country influence thing, which you can kind of hear on the record as well.” There’s a touch of electro in there, too. “We were really interested in electronic music and techno music, as well as being obsessed with Radiohead,” Rothman says. “We just melded them all together as best we [could].”
The English trio have always enjoyed a strong and committed fanbase Down Under; Rothman attributes a good portion of the reasoning behind that to our national youth broadcaster, triple j. “They have just been so ridiculously supportive of music,” he says. “They were playing our music before anyone else in the world – they were the first radio station to play Hey Now, they were literally playing it from a rip from the internet. They’ve been playing our new music too, and supporting it really strongly, which is great. We have a huge thanks to them for that.”
Aside from that, his theories on why Aussie ears love London Grammar reveal a real interest in our home-grown artists. “I don’t really know; Australia has a sound that has come from over there, it’s influenced by sort of trip-hop sounds from the ‘90s, which were quite popular there. You can hear it in artists like Flume, Nick Murphy [Chet Faker], and Lorde – well, she’s from New Zealand, but other artists from the area as well. I suppose maybe we fit in in that sense; it’s that electric/acoustic crossover thing that perhaps has more influence there than it does in other parts of the world.“
Truth Is a Beautiful Thing is out June 9 via Dew Process.Buy now at JB Hi-Fi