INTERVIEW

“They don’t do names, do Rogue Dog Consuela, Jack Paradise, Metro Smidgens or Earl Samuel Dust. In fact, Dusty Shears, Diego Consuales, Francis Dudley Dance and Nokacokova refuse even to acknowledge that their band is called Late Of The Pier, despite the notice on their dressing room wall. “It’s Late Off Pier,” says, erm, one […]

“They don’t do names, do Rogue Dog Consuela, Jack Paradise, Metro Smidgens or Earl Samuel Dust. In fact, Dusty Shears, Diego Consuales, Francis Dudley Dance and Nokacokova refuse even to acknowledge that their band is called Late Of The Pier, despite the notice on their dressing room wall.

“It’s Late Off Pier,” says, erm, one of them, when I mention it. “There’s no ‘the’ – that’s just a typo,” he insists. “Why does anyone care about names, anyway?”

Well, for a band comprised of two Sams, an Andrew and a Ross, such a penchant for nomenclature is quite telling. But actually, what’s clearer is that they don’t want anyone to care. In fact, if there’s one thing that Late Of (The) Pier don’t do, it’s hype. There’s barely anything about them on the web and they’re slippery with concrete facts. Not since The Beta Band publicly rubbished their own debut record has a group of such precocious, off-beat and ludicrously talented youngsters played themselves down so much.

“The thing is, the hype’s never true,” laments singer Dust/Shears. “If journalists tell the truth about us then okay, but they always go over the top.” Over the top? Well then maybe I take back the “ludicrously talented” bit. Either way, in front of me sit four 20-year-olds with a bright future.

Formed three years ago on the Leicestershire hills outside Castle Donington, LotP could be the modern-day missing link between the angular post-punk of Magazine and the androgynous new romanticism of Human League. They inhabit a new territory beloved of the post-MySpace generation, where stuff is simply good, or not. And LotP are good – speedy, futuristic, frenetic, slightly reckless and, with a stage show incorporating matching sequined jumpsuits and masks, not entirely of this world.

However, being good in this band is a serious business, achieved more through labour than ardour. “Even if you’re doing something tongue-in-cheek, it still has to be done seriously,” explains bass-player Smidgens/Dance. “You have to work at it so it comes across exactly right, otherwise there’s no point.” Such a workmanlike attitude from a 20-year-old mouth is a pretty incongruous sight, but LotP have serious intent, and appear hell-bent on working hard.

“Parlophone signed us because they thought we had a future,” Dance continues, “and we intend to make use of our long-term deal.” Just as he’s sounding like a businessman, Shears cuts across. “Basically, we want to have a slow, steady rise with a really impressive body of work behind us in ten years.”

“Exactly,” interjects keyboardist Paradise. “If you build people’s confidence with a series of really decent tunes, they’ll make them into hit records if you’re patient‚”” and suddenly they’re all competing to see who can be the most level-headed. But there’s something wrong about watching hipster jeans and t-shirts talking like bank managers’ ventriloquist dummies. The down-to-earth schtick is admirable, but doesn’t it ever get a bit, well, boring?

“You mean do we wanna be the next Arctic Monkeys? No fucking way,” insists Eastgage. “We’ve already had ‘this is the best band on earth’ shit, and whenever I read it I’m like, ‘use your words in a bit more of a sensible, measured way, mate. It doesn’t have to be just amazing or crap.'”

And with this, I feel a challenge, so here goes “measured”, for the benefit of the band. While currently quite raw, LotP still have better songs and musicians than many of their peers. You should probably go and see them – they put on an exciting, compelling show – and their records are witty, infectious and worth your money.

But yawn yawn yawn – “measured” isn’t the point here. Being measured about a band like Late Of The Pier damns them with faint praise. What really excites is that when a work ethic like theirs combines with such tangible intelligence, playfulness and musical strangeness, you actually have the beginnings of a band who will leave a real mark on the musical landscape. While 2008 will undoubtedly be a big year for them, don’t be surprised if their peculiar names become household ones a few more years after that.

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