What’s going through your mind on stage performing for a crowd like the one at Lollapalooza?
On stage I was actually wondering what kind of people turn up for an Eminem headline show 12 hours before he’s playing just to get a good seat. It was a weird gig for us because the first four rows were full of people who had no idea who we were and pretty much hated us. We could tell that they were his fans because they all looked just like Eminem, so that was weird … At a festival like Lollapalooza the first few rows are the only people you can really see because it all goes by so fast.
Who are the fans that will catch your eye the most?
I tend to focus on the people who are singing along so that I can sing with them. In the UK a lot of times our friends will come and they’ll get on each other’s shoulders and take each other’s shirts off and try to really put us off so we have to avoid looking at them.
What do you think gives us Americans away as opposed to those in the UK?
Umm, tucked in shirt with a belt? And like a nice pair of slacks? [Laughs] I really like the crowds over here though. I feel like the crowds over here aren’t self-conscious in any way where as in the UK there’s a real effort to try and be cool and not get out of your shell and just enjoy yourself. I see the crowds over here and everyone’s just [letting go], they don’t care! They just want to have a good time and dance and that’s what we like on stage. We [may] look really daft, we look stupid as hell but we’re having a good time!
How’s the camaraderie between bands in the Lollapalooza artist’s lounge?
I tend to feel like it’s always just people checking each other out. Bands do that. You’ll just see them outside looking across like [sizing you up]. [You say hi to one another] sometimes but I do think a lot of people are feeling very self-conscious backstage … It’s a lot of sunglasses on a cloudy day and leather jackets, I dunno, I don’t really buy into it. We don’t really feel like we fit in in that kind of thing.
Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
It was incredibly embarrassing because me and Ed [Nash], the bass player, were in his car driving around London. It was summertime so we had all the windows open and when our song came on the radio we immediately passed a huge group of people we knew. They looked at us like, “Are they in the car jamming out to their own album?” [Laughs] We were yelling, “No, no! You don’t understand!” but before we could explain it we had to drive off. They wouldn’t have believed that we were on the radio so they must have thought that we just had our CD in.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I don’t really take compliments well but we get some really sweet things and you get really affected by them. One time Ed and I were DJing and a guy bought us a bottle of champagne from across the room and said, “I just came back from three tours in Afghanistan. I put your CD on every night and it calmed me down.” You occasionally get those stories like that that really mean a lot. It’s more than someone just going, “Great show,” or, “I like your album.”
How has the dynamic changed between you and bandmates Ed, Jamie MacColl and Suren de Saramthe as you’ve grown?
When we started out we were still quite new friends and were really young and stupid. Now we’re more of a family and we can really piss each other off but it will never have a lasting effect. We won’t hold grudges and we’re mature enough to not take anything personally because we know each other so well. Now the other guys can tell that if I’m in a bad mood it’s probably because I’m hungry or something and they won’t think anything of it … Today we’ve all been on edge because of this jet lag so everything’s getting to us. But it’s like your brother and sister, you can tear each other’s hair out and then you still love each other.
Is there any one song you get sick of singing?
It’s different every night. I’d say sometimes you’re playing a song and your mind does drift off a bit. Like you asked before, what do I think about on stage, and there’s probably a song where you’re just thinking about what you did that morning or how you really feel like eatin’ some food! But that’s when I always forget my lyrics so I try to [not let my thoughts run wild].
Last person that you texted?
My phone doesn’t even work over here in the states. I don’t have a tri-band phone so it doesn’t even turn on. I can’t even get any signal so the last text was probably me texting my mom being like, “I”m getting on the plane,” or something … [When I finally get back home from tour and turn my phone back on] I always get my hopes up [about how many messages I’ll have] and then when I land it’s just like, “Oh.” [Laughs]
Most embarrassing on stage moment?
I’ve fallen over! Also, I was in Belfast and said, “Hello, Dublin,” and I don’t know if you know any of the context of that but it’s probably the worst place in the world to get those two cities mixed up. Because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland haven’t really gotten along for awhile … [Mistakes like that] happen but it shouldn’t happen there. That was really bad. They boo’d!
Most memorable show you’ve ever played?
We headlined the first ever music festival in Hong Kong and from the stage I could see across the water onto the Hong Kong Island and at the top of the peak I could see the hospital where I was born. And there was a lunar eclipse! So that was the craziest show I’ve ever played. It was very emotional.
One song that you wish you would have written and recorded?
A song by Roxy Music called “More Than This”. It’s in that film “Lost in Translation”, Billy Murray is singing it in a karaoke booth. I just think that song lyrically and musically is perfect.
Are you single?
I am single. I’ve just come out of an 8-year relationship though. Since we started the band up ’til quite recently I’ve had a girlfriend so it’s quite a new experience.
What for you is the key to getting over a breakup?
Well, it’s weird because we’re best friends so it wasn’t really an emotional breakup or anything like that. I will say that touring has improved a lot [since the breakup] because I can finally live in the moment and not have to Skype all of the time and be reminded of home or always talk about London with my mind always being back at home. So the last U.S. tour we did I could really just go from place to place and really feel like I was actually there in my head. So, yeah, I’m getting positive things out of it.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Joni Mitchell. She’s my hero. She seems like the wisest person on earth.
We appreciate you having a drink with us before your aftershow.
Wow, [seriously] thanks for the drink, I’m really enjoying this. This is great, is it just JD and lemonade? Is that it? That’s dangerous. [Laughs] For someone who does so many boring interviews where you’re just in a room talking about the same old stuff it’s nice to just have a drink where it just feels like a normal thing.
Where do you fly off to next?
We’re getting off stage [at our aftershow at Bottom Lounge] tonight at 2:30 in the morning then getting up at 6 to go to Montreal for Osheaga Festival … After that we have a two week holiday and I’m getting my wisdom teeth removed so everyone else is gonna have a really nice time and [I’m doing that] … That’s the icing on the cake, right? I’ll get lots of pain killers at least! [Laughs] I’ve got an excuse to do nothing I guess. We’ve got a gig a week after so I’m just hoping I can still move my mouth when I’m trying to sing our songs.
KIRSTEN MICCOLI / A DRINK WITH AT Crimson Lounge at Hotel Chicago
Click here to see 2014 Lollapalooza performance
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