lateofthepier

Sitting in the Astralwerks boardroom is a huge poster of The B-52’s. Bassist Andrew Faley sits admiring the wacky disco-pop veterans with synth wiz (and longtime friend) Sam Potter. I can already see the band’s outlandish personalities that inject Late of the Pier with massive dosages of Ritalin to produce a sound that is infused with psych/synth/glam/electro, that is overflowing on their mega debut, Fantasy Black Channel.

The Midlands-bred boys are beyond their years in terms of artistry and ingenuity, and it was refreshing to chat to a band (well, half of them) who are worth the hype. But despite the decadent CMJ schedule they were assigned (with brethren Soulwax and fellow newcomers The Whip), it is clear that Late of the Pier aren’t phased by the glitter that clouds their everyday life.

You’re definitely loving that B-52’s poster.

Andrew: Why don’t we go to the label and ask for an incentive to tour with the B-52’s? Didn’t they tour with CSS or something? I remember thinking, that works! They’re just so… so… ‘I’m 56 and I’ve still got it.’ Fucking cool band. They’re old enough to be my parents.

Sam: That’s a scary thought!

Speaking of age, you guys are 22?

Sam: It’s really fucking scary thinking about your age. Being in a band, you kind of, basically, we’ve never had any responsibility in our lives. We’re kind of living this child’s life. We’re basically playing. Even when we’re on tour at home, we have these mummies and daddies, to kind of set up the stage and drive us to places – and shepherd us through life.

That’s an interesting look at things.

Sam: It’s true. It’s not like we’re damaged by the whole thing. It’s funny because a lot of bands take it as a very serious job and responsibility.

Andrew: You can let it get to you – and start doing what the label tells you – and get caught on this treadmill – and it does become a job.

Sam: I think a really funny metaphor is I see it [being in a band] as a Beano thing – you know, the British children’s comic. We’re like this group of cheeky little kids teasing, and we’re playing all these practical jokes on our label and they’re telling us to do stuff.

[laughs] That’s a creative take on things!

Andrew: It’s part of our personalities, part of how we grew up – and part of being British – having fun with these kind of things.

Sam: I think it’s quite hard to understand if you’re American.

What about your musical process, how do you reflect on that?

Sam: Quite a lot of our songs start out as a fun exercise writing music – a playful experimentation. When we first start doing it, we laugh wondering if we can get away with it. The more we do it, the more we realize everybody enjoys it. Then in time, the more serious it gets. To us, it is a serious thing though. Being ridiculously lofty with our ambitions really – being like that at the start, then it just goes through the process.

Andrew: When we were younger we had child-like ambitions, thinking ‘what if this, what if that?’ Looking at bands like The Beatles, wondering why don’t we just do what The Beatles did, do it for now, then take visual elements from groups like Daft Punk. In the end, all we’ve done is be inspired by really good people.

Sam: We came from a village, a tiny, little boring place where you make your own fun. We started being creative from this blank slate – this void. It would take us as far away from where we were as possible. That’s why we want to make epic things – really big things. It’s a reaction from being bored and growing up in mediocrity.

Andrew: Being surrounded by nothing.

You’re from the Midlands?

Andrew: It’s a tiny place called Castle Donington. It’s this small place but we have a massive famous racetrack next to us, and it also houses heavy metal festivals. It is known as the spiritual home of rock and heavy metal! This sleepy village that gets mobbed by like, 50,000 guys in black for three days.

Sam: One of the best things about it is the hottest weekend in the summer and you get these Goths in their white makeup, dripping everywhere. Fucking cool! Really extreme.

When you did want to get out of the village, for a creative outlet, did you go to Nottingham?

Andrew: Our creative outlet was with each other. Potter [Sam] and I spent 2-3 years finishing college, driving around in his little car, reading poetry, walking the grounds of stately homes and just writing.

Sam: We would be in this wonderland. You’re full of ideas, it’s a lot easier to form thoughts that way.

How does it feel to be New York so far? Have you been here before?

Sam: It’s really good, really surreal. Never ever been here before. When you’re in a band, especially an up-and-coming one, there are things along the way when you think you’ve made it. Like the first time we played London. There were a series of occurences where we thought we made it. By the time we got the NME cover, it was like nothing really. Now we’re in New York and it hasn’t hit us.

Andrew: It’s really fucking cool.

After you’ve done the touring process, and take some time off, do you have any idea of a plan or is that not even feasible.

Andrew: We do this for fun. We never made a band to be big, we did it because it’s what we enjoyed. We’d spend hours and hours in Sam’s attic, messing about with synthesizers or guitars or drums. It interested us- that’s the main thing – it’s so hard to put it into words. It’s not a job, it’s something we get a kick out of. We want to go back to doing what we get a kick out of, and not to please a label or management.

Sam: We want to be really selfish and do it for us. We’ve never done it for the money, to be big, or get the cover of NME. We’ve done it because it’s what we do.

It’s an art – and it’s your art. It’s personal to you.

Sam: And keep ya’ grubby hands off it! [laughs]

www.lateofthepier.com

–Andrea D’Alessandro