I’m sitting in a hip java joint in the heart of Shoreditch and Dev Hynes, aka Lightspeed Champion walks in, sporting his trademark beanie, weighed down with his guitar and accoutrements, nervously clutching a thick book emblazoned with Spiderman on the cover. Little did I know that Hynes has been commissioned to do his own cartoon, which is ironic, since his new band is named after a doodle he drew obsessively as a kid. What began as a departure from the now-defunct, raucous dance rock trio that was Test Icicles, Lightspeed Champion has taken off and met success on both sides of the pond with those with an ear for smart, sassy, folk-tinged ballads. Throughout our chat, Hynes seemed amazed at the success he’s found with his new venture, one that began quietly and is now making so much noise.

So what’s the Spiderman book you’re holding? It’s interesting because I didn’t know the name Lightspeed Champion came from the cartoon you drew when you were younger. And would that explain where the whole Spiderman costume you sometimes where on stage derives from?
Yeah, it’s the cartoon I drew when I was younger! I had to freeze myself yesterday. So many weird things are going on in my life. I don’t see myself as successful, but it’s the real thing happening.

Such as you getting permission to do a comic!
With Titan Publishing! This is so insane. I got the offer a few days ago, so it’s really new to me. I just don’t understand how this happened. Like, what puzzles in life led to things like this happening?

You seem very grateful.
I just don’t understand! We just did a [music] video a couple of days ago, and people auditioned for it! Like, it was a one take video as well. People are working for it! People are editing it! It’s like, why are you doing that?

It’s all very structured and professional! You’re good; everyone wants a piece of you!
Why? I feel like so far, what everyone’s heard, I have better songs, and they should hear that.

So you feel like you have so much amazing stuff, nothing is ever good enough.
Yeah, the full-length album [Falling Off the Lavender Bridge] was recorded back in January, it’s really good though, I actually quite like it. It’ll be released a year from when it was recorded. In the UK it’s out in January and in the US in February.

A lot is going on right now, and it all began so quietly. Now it’s all blowing up!
Yeah, it’s whack! Now people wanna know about it. I think everyone’s lost their minds!

You’re so creative with your cartoons and collaborations and overall image, it’s your own little world.
I think of the idea of doing a gallery, I take a lot of photos. We’ll see. [pours an excessive amount of sugar packets into his tea] I don’t know if you notice, but I use a lot of sugars. Oh no, brown sugar got in!

Oh no, that totally throws off the sugar equilibrium! So how do you compare where we are in Shoreditch to its counterparts in NYC, the Lower East Side and Williamsburg?
I prefer Williamsburg. I just can’t deal with it here [London]. I feel like I’m at home when I’m in New York. I just know. I miss it.

You seem to really get the vibe of both cities. What about London throws you off compared to Williamsburg?
They’re both pretty similar, but there’s something slightly more real about Williamsburg. You see dudes there rocking like, bright turquoise trainers or you’ll see just a really crazy looking dude. In Williamsburg, it seems like, it’s just what that guy rocks. But over here, it seems like there’s some chore behind it, trying too hard. Some people in Williamsburg might be disgusting- but they’re genuinely disgusting, that’s just who they are! [laughs]

What about Omaha, where you recorded Falling Off the Lavender Bridge at Saddle Creek Records. Was it hipster there?
Kind of. It’s kind of not hip at all, actually. [laughs]

I always thought it was very Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes hip!
I once saw Conor singing the Dixie Chicks, like, every lyric, like, not even old stuff, but new stuff! They genuinely love music out there, to be around people like that, they’re all amazing musicians. It’s so cool, I miss it there. I really like the Midwest. I just play music all the time, or write it. When I’m not doing, that I’m eating sandwiches. But I can do both those things there. I can eat sandwiches and play music, I don’t need anything else.

–Andrea D’Alessandro, Photos by Tear-n Tan

www.lightspeedchampion.com

 
  1. [...] Lightspeed champion dev hynes swooning clever (or the art Iâ

  2. What happened to the Titan comic project- did anything come of it? He wrote a comic recently that was published in a collection, illustrated by a competition winner– http://www.jotta.com/magazine/articles/343/dev-hynes-comic-book-hero

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