“We don’t have any allegiance to any genre and in that respect, the album is an honest one”
their album at the end of last month, the rave reviews have been flooding in, with many already hailing their peculiar incursion into psychedelic pop as an early contender for album of the year.
“At the moment, we don’t really have time to sit around and think about that sort of stuff,” says the no-nonsense, bearded Maclean. “We’re practising, trying to get better live and to meet the new expectations that people will have of our live show, now that the album’s come out.
“We want to try to start to think about the next album as well. This one’s been so long in the making, we’re actually really keen to write some new stuff.”
Maclean has thrown himself into every aspect of Django Django since forming the band with Neff in 2008, from the artwork (he designed the album cover) to production. Although the pair, and Edinburgh native Grace, had known each other since college, it wasn’t until they had moved to London and recorded some rough demos that the idea of a band was mooted. In fact, Django Django was recorded entirely in Maclean’s bedroom.
“I started off with a four-track back in school, recording some friends who were in art college; but it was always about dance music for me, I was never about bands,” he explains. “I was into acid house, hip-hop and jungle at the time, trying to make my own rhythms to dancehall and ragga stuff.
“That was where my head was at until I met Vinny, and the two of us managed to somehow merge my love of weird dance music and his love of The Beatles and Beach Boys’ harmonies.
“Everything just seemed to click with him; had I not met him, I don’t think I’d have necessarily wanted to start a band. I didn’t have much experience of a band. I didn’t know how to record a guitar, or drums, or what you were meant to do. I still don’t, really, but I’m quite happy with that. I like to go with gut feeling and experiment in that way, rather than splashing out on expensive mics and that sort of stuff.
“You can kind of get lost in that a bit. It’s like an artist setting themselves up with a canvas and paints and all that stuff, and then phoning somebody up and getting them to paint something for you. All the fancy equipment might be nice, but you can get the same results by doing it yourself. That’s something we feel quite strongly about.
“I actually feel like more of a producer than a drummer, but I think it’s become an important part of the sound now.”
The homespun charm of the album certainly doesn’t detract from the songs, which swing riotously from the scuffed thud of the new single, Default, through to the glorious, harmony-infused electronic pop of Waveforms and the rattlesnake stalk of Love’s Dart. Django Django is an album that’s exploding with creativity, diversity and imagination.
Both Maclean and Neff attribute its schizophrenic nature to their “bizarre” record collections.
“We’ve got hardcore rave sitting next to Buddy Holly, The Cramps sitting next to The Beatles or jungle music,” chuckles Maclean. “We don’t have any allegiance to any genre and in that respect, the album is an honest one. I’m a big fan of Giorgio Moroder’s production because you’ve got things that shouldn’t work together in his songs – whether it’s Italo-disco synths alongside power pop, or whatever.
“They’re kind of odd, and I think that’s something worth pursuing. The Beatles were odd, Prince is odd, The Beach Boys were odd, Joe Meek was bizarre. Why not?” It was those qualities that led French independent label Because Music to sign the foursome and continue their Gallic love affair.
“They have a similar sort of philosophy to a label like XL Recordings,” explains Maclean. “They let the artist have full creative control, and I think that’s the key to XL having done well over the past few years, actually. The record industry’s changed so much that it’s great to have a label [like that]. It’s more of a partnership, really.”
Despite the accolades and support, however, Maclean is determined that Django Django aren’t going to sit back and revel in the eulogies.
“It’s hard to enjoy it. I think for a lot of people who spend a long time making an album, when it comes out, you’re just like ‘Oh’,” he smiles.
“But the summer festivals are gonna be great, and we’re looking forward to being a strong live band, ’cos that’s a different beast. That’s one thing about the album – there’s so much going on that it’s a bit of a headache figuring out how to make it work live. But it’s taken on a life of its own, and the rockabilly and dance stuff especially have become more prominent.
“Basically, I’m happiest when I’m in the studio and making music, so that’s what I want to do now. Musically, we’ve moved on already from the album and I have no idea where we’re gonna go next. And that’s really exciting.”