Interview: Django Django get ready to play Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party
Tommy Grace from the London-based group talks about seeing out a hectic 2013
‘It’s pretty massive,’ says Django Django’s Tommy Grace of his band’s imminent debut appearance at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. ‘We’re really thrilled to be doing it, especially in the slot just before the bells.’ It’s particularly sweet for himself and the band’s drummer Dave Maclean, he says, having both lived in Edinburgh for large chunks of their lives (both are graduates of Edinburgh College of Art).
‘Up until the age of about eighteen I’d be at Hogmanay every year,’ he says. ‘Although I remember a lot of the time you’d get dropped off by the taxi and still be walking there when the bells hit. We’d usually aim to be at St Giles Cathedral (on the Royal Mile) or on the Mound for the fireworks - of course these were the days before it was ticketed, and it would be pandemonium on Princes Street. But brilliant, you never knew what was going to happen. You’d usually lose your mates after ten minutes and have to find a whole new group of pals.
He says this will be his first of the new style, all-ticket Hogmanays, although he very nearly ended up there in 2003/04 when Franz Ferdinand were due to play, until high winds forced the event’s cancellation. ‘For the past few years we’ve (a group of friends, including Maclean) been going somewhere in Scotland,’ he says. ‘Skye, Achiltibuie (Maclean’s parents have a place there), and recently we’ve been getting a cottage at St Monan’s, which is round the corner from the Fence gang. Go somewhere remote, head to the local pub and get shit-faced, that’s usually the plan.’
This will, he says, be the first time he’s ‘worked’ over Hogmanay since a bit of limited experience doing silver service waiting when he was younger. How will he keep himself in the spirit? ‘Stay relatively sober and have a drink onstage,’ he laughs. ‘No, it will be weird, but at least there’s plenty to keep us occupied with the other bands beforehand. Chvrches are on our stage, I’ve not seen them before so I’m looking forward to it. Then there’s William Douglas at the start of the bill, I saw him a few times when we were knocking about Art College and I think he’s a great songwriter.’ Completing the Edinburgh College of Art lineage, the Rezillos play after the Bells.
This show will be the end of an incredibly hectic 2013 for the band, which a lot of their fans might not have noticed, given that their debut album release and the accompanying Mercury Prize came in 2012. ‘Well, we started this year in Australia, which was something else,’ says Grace. ‘It’s been astonishing, what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been with the band. It’s been beyond all our expectations of where we’d get to, and we’re really lucky it’s taken off for us in such a short space of time.’
As well as the jaunt to Australia for New Year 2012/13 and the Big Day Out festivals, they toured to their largest audiences yet in America and completed a busy festival schedule in Europe. Not only that, but Grace also got married earlier in the year. ‘I just took two weeks off and got on with it,’ he recalls now. ‘It was great.’
After all of this, the latter stage of the year has been more subdued, and Hogmanay itself will prove to be a one-off live diversion from writing new songs. ‘It’s going great,’ says Grace. ‘We’ve got about ten songs we’re happy with, but we’ll be messing about with them for months to come. We’re really encouraged by what we’ve done so far, though. The songs sound a bit different, kind of more ambitious – I think there are more chords, but then a lot of the first album started off complicated and became simpler too. Dave’s set a deadline of finishing the record in April, but we’ll see.’
Django Django play the Waverley Stage at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, Tue 31 Dec.