LONDON GRAMMAR CROSS THE POND WITH A VENGEANCE
The U.K. trio London Grammar are seated at a rickety wooden table at one of Brooklyn’s finer brick-oven joints, staring at a barely touched margherita pizza, and trying their best to form complete sentences. Having just finished an Australian tour, the group flew in to play Late Night and some intimate gigs. They have jet lag. Bad.
But when The National comes up in conversation—and the fact that the brothers Dessner are only a subway ride away from where we’re sitting— the band perks up. “Don’t tell me that,” jokes Reid. Turns out the two groups shared a billing on the popular BBC Two show Later... With Jools Holland recently, and they’re still a little star-struck. “You expect Matt to be quite a serious man,” says Rothman. Reid jumps in with her best American male accent: “He was just like, ‘Hello, there.’” She laughs, her eyes sparkling. “I feel like if I mention them enough in interviews, they’ll have to acknowledge us.”
London Grammar came together at the University of Nottingham and were signed just before graduation. “It was pretty much the luckiest break—about two weeks before we started taking our final exams—and also the biggest distraction,” says Rothman. Between classes, they’d gather in the guitarist’s garage to write. “Wasting My Young Years”
came about during one such session. “We were sitting there in this freezing cold garage,” recalls Rothman. “Hannah was triple-layered, with electric heaters pointed at her, and she was playing the song on a little shit keyboard. It’s funny now when I think about it, but it was obviously a fucking amazing song. The lyrics immediately permeate and stick with you.”
To try to classify their music is to want to coin a new genre (dusk-pop?) or at the very least commit hyphen abuse. This might be due to the knot-in- the-throat immediacy of Reid’s lyrics, delivered in a husky timbre that lands like a plane after a turbulent flight—breathtaking and applause-inducing.
Since posting their first track, “Hey You,” to YouTube in 2012, the band has watched their debut full-length, If You Wait, go platinum in the U.K. While it’s still early, London Grammar’s steady ascent begs the question of whether rock- star shenanigans like throwing TVs out of hotel rooms are in their future. Major laughs. “We didputaTVontopofourtour manager once,” he admits. Rothman explains: “When he has a drink or two—well, a drink or 14—he sleeps and you cannot wake him up. It’s extraordinary. So one day, Dot took the TV off the wall and put it on him.” MELISSA GIANNINI