WHEN Django Django appeared on the Jools Holland tv show recently the maverick four-piece took to the stage, each wore the same tie-dyed grey shirt, white blotches catching the glint of overhead studio lights. One watching wag suggested they give Noel Edmonds back his wardrobe.
The reality was much funnier, explains lead singer Vincent ‘Vinny’ Neff.
“We were in a shopping centre across the street at about 6pm buying the shirts and then bleaching them back in the green room before somebody ran a hair dryer over them. We were on stage an hour later - it was totally last minute,” he laughs.
Django’s outfits and eye-popping visual shows have rapidly become nearly as famous as their experimental music, rooted as it is in adventurous psychedelica, yet bursting with pop and rock overtones, the tag of one of Britain’s most exciting young bands sitting warily on their shoulders.
When they played an acclaimed show at South By South West in Austin in March - which we witnessed - they appeared in black and white polka dot shirts. It is possible that the watching Americans were a tad confused by the band, who met in Edinburgh but are based in London, and whose frontman hails from Derry.
“That was Dave’s creation,” says Vinny of his Django co-founder David Mclean. “Sometimes when he mixes them he doesn’t wash the bleach out, so when you sweat during a show and breath the fumes, it will blind you in the middle of a song - it looks like you are crying but it is actually bleach fumes.”
The impressive scale and scope of their riotous music might just bring a watching audience to euphoric tears. They released their universally acclaimed self-titled debut in January, stuffed with instant classics like Storm, Wor and Hail Bop, but as Neff tells it, there was no grand plan.
Instead, for four years, he and Mclean worked in the latter’s poky flat in East London, fiddling with tracks and slowly putting something together.
“We didn’t really know what we were doing, and when you don’t know, you kind of just have to make it up,” explains Vinny. “David had been producing his own dance music, which was very homegrown, loads of loops and stuff, and I was writing lots of songs, but we had never really done a live production. So we had to figure it out.”
Figure it out they did. Telephone books became snares, kitchen utensils utilised in manic ways, all but the kitchen sink thrown into an album that (eventually and circuitously) caught the ear of the same A&R man who signed Daft Punk and Air. He immediately liked what he heard, and, wisely, advised against changing anything, leaving imperfections present and accounted for.
“He is a confident guy, he has nothing to prove and is that bit older - maybe somebody younger might have said let’s follow the norm and cancel the demo and record with a big name producer,” says Neff.
“He said he liked what he heard and had the foresight not to put us in a situation that could have cleaned us up and made us sound not as good.”
French label Because - home also to Metronomy - came calling, liking what they heard of the cut and paste vocals, stylised electro rhythms and sound effects. The results surprised even the band, even in their “wildest dreams” being unprepared for the reaction.
“I always thought we would be a little bit more towards the experimental side, so it was a bit of a surprise when we went into the UK album charts. We were happy to be a kind of cult, underground band with a good following but maybe not scratching above the surface,” says Vinny.
Now Django Django are set for a high-profile Irish slot in the plush, quirky surrounds of the Body and Soul festival at Ballinlough Castle in a couple of weeks, where their visceral tunes, visual show and deliriously extravagant shirts will be well regarded and well received.
They can’t wait. Neither can we.
Django Django play Body and Soul, June 22-24. We have a pair of festival tickets to give away, send your contact details to click here plus the answer to this question: What label are Django Django signed to?