Wizards of odd
Their debut is being hailed as an early contender for album of the year and Django Django are looking forward to more peculiar adventures in psychedelic pop, writes Lauren Murphy
IT’S DECEMBER 2009 in the rainy French city of Rennes, and down a puddle-strewn alleyway, four young musicians in African safari costumes have just blown the roof off an old Victorian dancehall. The venue at this Transmusicales festival gig is packed with a crowd eager to hear what Django Django are made of. They’re already familiar with the Londonbased band’s song Storm because of its inclusion on a recent indie compilation, and so enthused are they by the shapeshifting sounds of Vinny Neff and co that they demand an encore. The only problem is the band have a limited number of songs and have never played an encore before.
“I remember that well,” laughs Neff, a Derryman who went to live in London via Edinburgh Art School.
“We didn’t have anything else prepared because we’d been playing little bars before that, so we ended up doing Storm again. It was a really bad dub version, too.”
More than two years on, some things remain the same – most notably the quartet’s propensity for playing dress-up. Drummer Dave Maclean reveals that recent stage costumes have included medieval tunics and “cowboy shirts with dangly fringes”.
Their French fanbase remains as loyal as ever. And yet, a lot is different. They can tackle encores with more self-assurance these days. They have many more songs in the can than that excellent debut single, having finally finished crafting their long-awaited album. And, perhaps most tellingly, they’ve all given up their respective day-jobs. Back in 2009, Neff (an architect), Maclean (an art technician), keyboardist Tommy Grace (a graphic designer) and bassist Jimmy Dixon (who used to work at Asda), were all squeezing music in around their nine-to-fives. Nowadays, they’re having backstage encounters with Chris Isaak at gigs in Paris.
“That was pretty amazing. I was keen to get a photograph with him, and the rest of them were like ‘Meh . . .’. Then, as soon as the opportunity came up, you’ve never seen them more excited in all their lives,” laughs Neff. “He said I could design his apartment in LA. It was probably the most rock ’n’ roll thing that’s happened to us so far.”
They should probably get used to the strange and unexpected. Since they released