Jade Wright meets the next generation of big indie bands coming to town on the NME tour
AN ANNUAL package tour of the must-sees and might-bes, the NME Awards Tour is about as far removed from red carpet glamour as you can get.
Like a Radio 1 roadshow for the next generation of indie kids, it showcases artists at the sharp end of the music scene, usually throwing in a few offerings from left field to keep us all on our toes.
The bill for the prestigious tour is specially selected each year by NME magazine, and this year it’s Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets and Peace.
Headliners Django Django have been busy doing great things in the East London bedroom slept in by their drummer, producer and de facto leader David Maclean.
The result of those great things is a great self-titled debut record.
“Time gives you options, and we had plenty of that,” says Vincent Neff, the singer and guitarist who – along with bassist Jimmy Dixon and synth operator Tommy Grace – completes Django Django.
“There was no pressure on us from anyone to go away with a producer and come back two weeks later with an album,” explains David.
“Maybe next time there will be some svengali figure banging his fists on a desk demanding hits, but we’ve had the luxury to figure out what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it.”
The quartet, who met at art school in Edinburgh, first came to national attention after a gradual migration to London a couple of years back. Double A-side single Storm/Love’s Dart laid the blueprint for a confident strain of art-rock.
The time since has been spent holed away, expanding upon that blueprint, seeing where they can push it.
“We didn’t put much conscious thought into making it sound like an album – we thought we’d let any similarities between the songs come out by themselves,” explains Tommy.
What that means in practice is the swooning, bucolic Beach Boy-isms of opening track Hail Bop and the sterner, questing Bo Diddley beat guitars of Life’s A Beach.
“Music’s so mad and widespread and varied, that eclecticism’s the only way to be for us,” reasons David. “That said, I think you can draw a line through all the music we’re into. It’s about creativity and experimentation and the quest to find a new sound.”
Django Django will be joined by Wirral singer Miles Kane, who has had a fantastic couple of years, working with Noel Gallagher and having his album named one of the Hottest Records of 2012 by Zane Lowe on his BBC Radio 1 Show.
“To say I’ve ‘found myself’ is a bit extreme,” says Miles, from Meols.
“But it has been that idea of finding out who you are and showing that in your songs – and I think the record shows that. Doing those first four tracks it felt great, and where I am now, I’ve settled into it, and I’m starting to do me things and talk about all the songs – well, I’m living my dream.”
He’s certainly living most young men’s dream – last year Miles and Paul Weller were shot by photographer Danny Clinch in the gritty surroundings of New York’s Lower East Side, as the faces for menswear designer John Varvatos’ autumn campaign.
But somehow he still found time to record his new material.
“This record is me,” he says. “It’s about me, I’ve written it about me. It’s all my favourite things and influences on the record. That’s it really. And all the other stuff like Noel, Gruff, the birds – it all comes into it. But at the end of the day I’ve worked hard to get to this point. This is me, my heart and soul. It’s been a long journey.
“As a kid, you know, you dream of the opportunity to do a record on your own. Now I’ve done that. I am very lucky and do appreciate that.”
He will be performing tracks from his Top 20 debut, Colour of The Trap, including singles Rearrange, Come Closer and the frenzied Inhaler.
Interestingly, it is traditionally often the acts placed lower down the bill – including in past years Arctic Monkeys, The Ting Tings, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs – who have gone on to the biggest success.
This year we have South London’s Palma Violets, who have emerged from nowhere to become one of the most hyped new bands of the last year.
Singles Best of Friends and Last of the Summer Wine (not to be confused with the BBC sitcom) are taken from the band’s forthcoming album, which is currently being recorded with Pulp bassist Steve Mackey.
Taking the prestigious NME Awards Tour opening slot are Birmingham’s Peace.
The band gained high praise for clever, confident and ambitious debut EP Delicious, and have recently toured with Manic Street Preachers and The Mystery Jets. The band’s brand new single Wraith is released on Columbia Records on January 13.
As a barometer of the current indie hopefuls rising to the top, this year’s NME Awards show demonstrates that while we’re not at pressure-cooker point yet, the scene is bubbling up to perfection.
THE NME Awards Tour 2013 calls into the 02 Academy Liverpool on February 13.