Now that the wall between rock purism and the digital dancefloor has been reduced to mere rubble, a suite of newer, harder, brighter, faster bands are getting down to the business at hand: having a good time. Next up, silver capes and sampler-mashing straight from Castle Donington’s fresh-faced upstarts, Late of the Pier.
Yes, Late of the Pier is another weirdly named band of British 20-somethings, totally hyped though they don’t even have record out yet. Your first reaction might be just to ignore them. But praise from Digitalism, and Erol Alkan’s involvement in producing that yet-to-be-released album, might be enough to get you to one of their gigs. And that, my friend, may lead you to the center of a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic, noisy, stop-start dance-rock maelstrom, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by 18-year-olds and wearing a pair of band-distributed “rainbow trippy goggles.”
On stage, Late of the Pier has so much going on at the same time that it’s almost hard to describe: silver capes, metallic guitar riffs and screams, frenetic, MPC-triggered 8-bit effects, post-punk drums, distorted disco basslines, and layers and textures from synthesizers that have been carefully placed in golden foil-wrapped boxes. And all of these elements are neatly rolled into recent singles on their Zarcorp label, including “Bears Are Coming” and “Bathroom Gurgle” (a remix of which shows up on the latest taste-making Kitsuné compilation).
“I think a lot of people that hear us are interested because it just sounds a little odd; familiar but... just slightly odd,” explains bassist Andrew Faley. “That confuses them into listening to us a bit more. And that’s where we sink our musical claws into them.”
The foursome’s live set-up–guitar, bass, drums, two synths, and one MPC–came together naturally, says Faley. “We originally played just straight bass, drums, and guitar. We all listened to a lot of electronic music, from The Prodigy and Daft Punk to Lamb, Chris Clark, and Autechre, but never really thought about playing it as a band. Sam [Eastgate, the guitarist and lead vocalist] was sequencing, sampling, and producing electronic music himself and eventually the two collided.”
The Midlands-based band finally decided to add electronic elements into its sound after a group outing to Cut Copy’s first U.K. gig. “They were using an MPC-1000 sampler live. Next week, Sam bought one off eBay and [keyboardist Sam] Potter went from playing one key on a keyboard in one song to mashing a sampler [into] everything we do,” says Faley.
If it all falls apart, there is a plan B. “Ross [Dawson, the drummer], is going to be a gravedigger after LOTP, and Potter wants to be a glass blower,” explains Faley, who’s obviously been given the task of remembering the band’s retirement plans after some drunken night. “Sam’s going to collect glass that Potter’s blown. We’ll all still be connected though–I’ll make a film about Ross’ grave-digging, for which I’ll use special glass lenses in the camera. These I’ll buy off Sam, who’ll have collected them from Potter.” And the band played on…