UK outfit Clean Bandit opens for Duran Duran on Thursday, October 1 at the Hollywood Bowl, just less than a week after the two appeared Saturday on the Life is Beautiful Festival bill in downtown Las Vegas. Their unique blend of classical and dance music is great to hear, particularly in a live setting. We caught up with Grace Chatto (cello, vocals) and Jack Patterson early Saturday before their set, which was one of the best dance parties of the weekend.
GRIMY GOODS: I got to see you guys at Coachella earlier this year and it was one of the better sets early in the day that weekend. What was that experience like for you, playing the biggest American music festival?
GRACE CHATTO: If not the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to at that point! I think it was like 55-60,000 people watching. It was really scary, we were actually really nervous because we didn’t know whether anyone would see us because it was quite early in the day. It was Saturday, mid-day. It was so hot. In the UK, at Glastonbury if we played at that time, there wouldn’t be very many people there. And we premiered the song [“Disconnect”] with Marina & the Diamonds, and that was really exciting to do something new.
GG: Did it just work out perfectly that she was going to be performing at Coachella, too? When did that come together?
JACK PATTERSON: We’ve got the same booking agent in America, so I think it’s quite lucky. But it was just a coincidence that we were at the same stage on the same day.
GG: You guys are unique in that you feature different singers on different songs. I’m just curious what the process is when it comes to selecting singers to sing your tracks.
GRACE: Nearly all of the singers on our debut album New Eyes were kind of unknown – like Jess Glynne really hadn’t recorded anything else before then and Sharna Bass on “Extraordinary” was a young 15-year-old girl we met in London. It kind of was quite organic for that album, but now that we’re working on our second album, we’re thinking kind of which voices would work for the music that we’ve heard.
GG: Do you hear different voices when recording these songs as far as who you want to sing on them?
JACK: It’s quite interesting because you can write in a different way. Like before, we do a lot of production first. We’ve been production heavy before we even think of the vocal. We have a lot of finished instrumentals that we send people or get them to listen to. But now I’m doing a lot of writing just off the piano. So you’ve got this song and it’s very skeleton form and you can send it to like an unknown folk singer and the same song could turn out one way, or you could send it to like a pop singer and it could turn out completely different. So it’s interesting how it can go.
GG: How important was it to your momentum that the song with Jess, “Rather Be,” came out before the album came out?
GRACE: Oh, very important (chuckles). It actually came out a long time before the album. We had two more singles after that. For me, I think it’s a shame it didn’t come out just before the album because everyone was so crazy after that. But the most important thing was that we’d finished writing and recording the whole album before “Rather Be” came out, because if we haven’t, there would have been so much pressure from the record label to try and recreate that kind of song whereas we wanted to make songs in so many different styles.
GG: I’m interested in seeing you guys open up for Duran Duran at the Hollywood Bowl, one of the premier music venues on the West Coast. Is that a date you have circled on your schedule, maybe highlighted among the rest?
GRACE: Yeah, definitely. Actually, every time we play in LA, it’s kind of special and exciting. But yes, it’s such an iconic venue. The other one was Red Rocks, we played there and it was just beautiful.
GG: Did you ever imagine when you first started that you’d be opening for Duran Duran one day?
JACK: I don’t think we had really thought about that.
GG: It’s funny because it seems like a perfect pairing because you guys are sort of like a more modern take on that brand of pop music.
JACK: It would be great to do something – we’re gonna try and do a little session with them on the tour bus.
GRACE: Yeah, writing something.
JACK: That’d be cool.
GG: Have you had much interaction with them at the shows you’ve done together?
JACK: Well we’ve only done two shows with them so far. We saw Simon LeBon just watching our whole first show, it was pretty unnerving.
GRACE: Simon watched the whole soundcheck and the show. The other guys we haven’t had a chance to meet properly yet.
GG: Well maybe you’ll get that chance tonight between your sets! Looking forward to catching you guys, thanks so much for your time.
GRACE: It was our pleasure!
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Tom Dellinger
US Tour Dates with Duran Duran
OCT 1 – Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
OCT 2 – Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA
OCT 3 – Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage, CA
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