OTW #523: London Grammar

Slowly exploding into the mainstream...
London Grammar by Neil Bedford

For many, higher education is no more than a (albeit fun) waste of time. But for Dan Rothman, Dot Major and Hannah Reid, who met at Nottingham University and went on to form London Grammar, a degree was probably the least of their accomplishments.

“The version I like the best,” laughs Dot, “is the story that Dan walked into the canteen with a white cap on backwards and a beaded Thai necklace and Hannah saw him and wanted to be his friend. Or the other one is that Dan saw a picture of Hannah with a guitar on Facebook. Either way, they’re both perverts...”

“Then Dot joined, and it turns out he’s the biggest pervert of all,” Dan adds.

From jamming in Hannah’s dad’s garage to sessions at Glastonbury in the space of six months, the threesome has suddenly been hit by shedloads of success. Thereby making the title of their track ‘Wasting My Young Years’ a paradox of the highest degree.

“I don’t think we’re famous, though!” exclaims Hannah, despite the fact that the band is a fixture on 2013’s festival circuit this year, and now open for the likes of The xx. They’re remarkably grounded – which becomes clear from the constant knocking on the wooden table we’re sat around, any time there’s mention of a “bad show”.

“Every gig is still such a first,” says Dot. “Hannah always says, ‘I’m gonna quit after this gig,’ and then obviously she does it and feels great afterwards, until just before the next one.”

“I have really bad stage fright,” she admits, “but I can now perform in front of 1,500 people. I think we performed in front of 6,000 people the other day…”

Her gold-coated, big-room tones have led to countless comparisons with Florence Welch, Jessie Ware, and, as Dan laughingly adds, “a white Tracy Chapman with range,” at least according to one online commenter.

While Dot heads up percussion and keyboards, Dan mans the guitar – and the emerging vibe is sparse, ghostly pop. Spending their young years playing to fervent crowds is, surely, no waste at all.  

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What: Gentle, melodic ballads – Jeff Buckley meets The xx.

Where: London

Get 3 Songs: ‘Wasting My Young Years’, ‘Hey Now’, ‘Strong’ (video above)

Unique Fact: Dan used to work at a company that specialised in dodgy dealings, under the pseudonym Richard Price.

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Find London Grammar online here 

Words: Felicity Martin

Photography: Neil Bedford

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