For the last twelve months, The Last Dinner Party have almost exclusively existed as a cult proposition on the coolest recesses of YouTube. Without releasing a single song, clips of their live shows have instead become the stuff of legend – showing five friends decked out in gothic gear delivering an almighty sound that’s somewhat hard to pinpoint. On one side they’re adept at dishing out an almighty cover of Girls Aloud, but on the other it’s their own music that has become quite the unique proposition. It channels the bombast of 80s art-rock (inevitable comparisons to Sparks and Kate Bush have followed them), but creates a sound that is entirely their own, too.
Now, a year later, and with support slots with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Nick Cave under their belts, The Last Dinner Party have truly arrived. Their first single ‘Nothing Matters’ was released last night and is rightly being hailed as one of the most dynamic debuts in years.
“We wanted to put across that feeling of nothing being hidden, nothing being subtle with that track,” says lead singer Abigail Morris. “It was our own way of channeling the bravado that’s just a bit lacking at the moment. We didn’t want a limpid love song. We wanted something that was carnal, free and honest and almost perverse.”
Get ready to meet The Last Dinner Party and read our full Q&A with the band below.
For the uninitiated, tell us the story so far. How did you meet?
Abigail: Georgia and Lizzy and I met right before we went to Uni in London and we just built our whole friendship by spending our first year going to gigs and talking about it. We started thinking about forming a band and I met Em (Roberts, lead guitar) through a mutual friend who recommended her as the best guitarist he knew. We then brought in Aurora Nischevi (keys) and the result is an incredibly powerful line-up of musicians. We’ve all become friends through that.
If you had to deliver an elevator pitch, how would you describe The Last Dinner Party?
Georgia: We don’t have a tagline or genre or anything that we can whip out of the bag whenever someone asks about what we are. We never give the same answer because we just don’t know what that is. More often, we’ll use aesthetic words that you might use to describe a painting, like opulent or decadent or grotesque! That’s the sound, because we borrow from so many genres and styles and we don’t want to be able to nail down a genre. We want to be timeless. Some of our songs might sound like Nine Inch Nails and others are Pink Floyd, there’s everything in there.
Abigail: It’s exciting for us that our music is a constant state of flux too, where we’re always challenging ourselves and finding new things. We don’t want people to come to our shows expecting a certain thing, except from knowing that we’re working really hard.
You’ve been noted for having quite a strong look – gothic outfits and medieval influences are prominent when you’re performing.
Georgia: Abby and I studied English Literature at Uni and did a lot of 19th century stuff, so we do love a bit of gothic and romantic. That world of decadence, so we do have an aesthetic. But we also like to give ourselves fashion briefs for different gigs, like for one it’s Italian renaissance vampire and another might be David Bowie or Alice in Wonderland. As well as sonically, aesthetically we’re always trying to do different things.
Abigail: Maximal is the key word we do for everything in terms of the visuals and sound. We wouldn’t be able to do anything less, we just have to do that.
Does that love of classic literature seep into your songwriting too?
Georgia: Definitely, I find it impossible to write lyrics that aren’t somehow referential to like, a poem or a fairy, or a period of literature. I think it’s very obvious if you read the lyrics or listen to them that we’re just fucking pretentious nerds and we want to write for other scholars!
That’s nice though, because it keeps the fans guessing and comes back to the idea of constantly keeping it interesting
Georgia: Exactly, we want to turn people onto other things through music. If they’re young and not being encouraged to study certain things at school, our lyrics could be a way in for them to go and explore certain books or literature. It’s a way to develop your own world of art and senses and if we can do that, then we’ve achieved something.
You’ve had a lot of comparisons to other artists, be it Sparks and Kate Bush to name two. Who are your own personal heroes?
Whole group: BOWIE!
Of course! Is that partly a result of his ever-changing and chameleonic nature?
Abigail: Yeah, but it’s also like a, a joy that’s very obvious, a real joy and interest and curiosity in life and in things outside of himself that I, I really respect.
Why did you choose ‘Nothing Matters’ as the first taste of The Last Dinner Party to the wider world?
Aurora Nischevi (keys): I think it embodies the idea of joy, that song. Like if we’re talking about maximalism and joy then it does that. It’s also nice to be imagining what everyone at your shows will be singing along to, and it definitely seems like that’s the one.
Abigail: We wanted to put across that feeling of nothing being hidden, nothing being subtle. It was our own way of channeling the bravado that’s just a bit lacking at the moment. We didn’t want a limpid love song. We wanted something that was carnal, free and honest and almost perverse.
Georgia: Yeah, because a lot of music that’s contemporary to us is almost apologising for itself. It’s mitigating itself or like holding back a little for fear of not being cool or, you know, for looking like you’re trying too hard. I think it’s kind of apologising for itself before it even has a chance to say anything, so we wanted to be totally unapologetic. We don’t want to hold back, because that is our ethos.
Abigail: We’re making a statement that we’re not a bloodless band.
That definitely comes across in the chorus lyric: I will fuck you, like nothing matters. But I do wonder how it’s going to sound when censored for air play…
Georgia: There’s not one! We just took it out and recorded a version where I didn’t sing the word and it’s almost this weird audio illusion trick where you can basically work out what I’m saying. I think if we had changed the word to hold or kiss, it would take away the whole point and the whole foundation of the song. I think everyone knows what we’re actually singing.
Does that defiance run through all of your songs?
Lizzie [Mayland], backing vocals: I think there’s a lot more tenderness in the other songs, but this is a great straight out of the gate song. We’ve obviously got other bops, but I’m excited for people to hear the softer side too. We’ve got a song called ‘On Your Side’ and that’s incredibly vulnerable, it’s one of my favourites. We definitely cover a range.
Georgia: But the spirit of not holding back is definitely present, it’s different levels of that, but the ethos of putting everything out there is continuous throughout the song.
Abigail: The one thing that unites our songs is the idea of ecstasy in all its forms. That’s ecstasy of euphoria, the ecstasy of being in immense pain and being a martyr and enjoying agony. The one thing that draws it all together is just ecstasy, pushed to every limit, you know, the pain and the pleasure and the joy.
When can we expect more music?
Georgia: We’ll put out more music this year, I think we can say that. But we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of like building up to the album, you know, a lot of things to do before then.