Django Django are in a jovial frame of mind.
They say good things come to those who wait, and they would be right. But this is not a Guinness advert, this is a masterful mix of music and one huge fusion of fun. Two years in the brewing, Django Django have finally released their eagerly awaited self-titled debut album and it’s a banger. Crack caught up with them at their recent album launch to give them a pat on the back.
You’ve got to love a Rough Trade instore. It’s nice and intimate and maybe one of the last shows Django Django will play of this size. Big gigs await, not that they’re fussy. The four piece have been gigging indiscriminately for two years, playing to anyone who would listen, accruing fans as they went. With Dave Maclean at the helm on drums and also producer on their album, HMS Django is manned by Vinnie Neff on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Dixon on bass and Tommy Grace on synths and percussion. They also put on a sterling live show – their all- singing (they all sing), all-dancing energy is completely infectious.
The band released their debut single Storm over two years ago. Sounding as fresh now as it did then, it captivated bloggers, critics and fans alike and all waited with baited breath. Where was the album? Doing things slowly, it seems, is the new overnight hype. Dave explains: “We put out Storm when we weren’t really a band, it was just me and Vinny in the bedroom. It took off without us realising anyone would be interested and before we knew it we were getting nice write-ups from magazines saying it was intriguing and they want to hear more. That’s when we decided to keep going with it. We were always trying to catch up with what people expected of us.”
If anything, taking things slowly has done them a favour. Managing to maintain control of their undefinable sound, and making the album their own way depended on finding the right label with which to sign. After some shopping around they settled on French label Because Music, home to Justice, Metronomy and a whole host of electronique artistes. Why not keep it local? Jimmy explains the Because Music appeal. “They really liked the songs we’d done. We’d put out Storm and WOR and they liked those singles and were willing to let us carry on as we were in the middle of making an album and not starting it again. They really liked what we’d done and they encouraged us.” Dave adds: “They’re very laid back. I mean it was us chasing them. One of the reasons the album took so long was because signing to them took a long time. It seems like the French way of doing things, but now that we’re rolling it feels like we can just do what we want to do and all we want to do is keep making new music, that’s all we’ve wanted to do since we formed the band.”
Django Django formed in the Scotland, a hybrid of students from the two major art colleges (Edinburgh and Glasgow) and after graduating they migrated to London; initially with Dave starting at Chelsea School of Art, and finally congregating and reconvening with his friends in East London.
Historically, art school has given us stellar pop, from Roxy Music to Pulp as well as much in the way of avant-garde noise. Dispel any concerns that the Djangos are your poncey art school graduates – they’re not. Their music makes you get up off your chair and dance and, more importantly, there is absolutely no pomposity about them. In fact they’re ruddy funny. Within a few minutes of talking to Dave and Jim we’re in fits. They delight in telling stories, like that of their first meeting naked in the art college union as Dave explained: “We embraced and we locked together like foxes, and this was on the dancefloor.” They also cackle lovingly about the concept of composing tunes for bandmate Tommy Grace’s family home movies. Can they tell Crack about them? Dave laughs. “No we’ve got a court order, we can’t talk about Tommy’s home Super 8s.” Probably best left to the imagination.
When producing their debut album, Dave pushed their instruments to new places, like Dexter in his lab testing the limits of his tools.“It was all about experimentation for us,” he explains. “I didn’t just want to set up a drum kit and the guitars and an amp and go for it. The whole process was a learning curve.” You would think that there must have been tricky moments self-producing an album in your bedroom, but not for Dave. He had the ear and full support of his bandmates. “I would never lock myself away. They would come in and quality-check every couple of days to make sure I was doing something good and not doing a Brian Wilson. They’d bring me milk and biscuits,” he laughs. “Life’s too short to worry what people think or what genre you are. We’re big music fans and it consumes more than 90% of my brain, thinking about music, so you’ve got to trust your gut feeling.”
You can tell that they are indeed big music fans, their album drawing influence from an incredibly wide range of sources. When explaining why WOR is his favourite Django track, Dave’s eyes light up. “There’s Duanne Eddy in there; rockabilly like The Cramps; it had a bit of Pink Floyd and psychedelic bits and Tommy’s synths. All those things shouldn’t really work but they did and that’s kind of what I love about it. John Carpenter meets the Cramps meets The Beatles. All of our personalities are on that song.” If they had to have a producer for the next album, forcibly so, who would make their wish list? “We could try and break Phil Spector out of prison,” Jim offers, with Dave adding, “or bring Joe Meek back from the dead”. After some thought he decides on a few more. “It would be someone quite unexpected like Ramadanman/Pearson Sound or Adrian Sherwood or Dan Carey who did the last Franz Ferdinand album. He does a lot of dub stuff. It would have to be someone who brought a creative element to it.”
No jokes and laughs on this matter. Music is taken very seriously. “Yeah, I mean we love psychedelic pop like The Monkees, but we also love what psychedelia was all about – not drugs but spirituality and deeper ways of thinking. Without getting too heavy that is something that we’re all quite into. But musically I’m just as much in to acid house, Chicago house, hip hop and disco, it’s not really like we like one thing more than another.” So while we’re talking thoughtfully about music, are there any films they would lend the album to as a soundtrack? “Oh yes” says Dave – “Nuns on the Run”. Crack leaves the Djangos in more fits of laughter, wondering if they need a roadie, or new management even. Or perhaps they need a fifth band member? This is one serious band; serious about music and seriously fun.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Django Django’s debut is currently out on Because Music
Catch them at:
The Great Escape Festival, Brighton 10-12th May
Field Day Festival, London 2nd June
Parklife Weekender, Manchester 9th June
Words: Lucie Grace