After their self-titled – and Mercury-nominated – debut album of 2012, British band Django Django return this month with new album Born Under Saturn. Drummer and producer Dave Maclean offers hard-won advice on defeating the sophomore slump.
1 | Keep your bandmates close
Me and Vinny [Vincent Neff, singer and guitarist] wrote the first album together. We did hit a few problems – songs with a breakdown where a chorus should be because we couldn’t think of one. This time, we kept tackling problems until we broke through. If it took us four days of thinking, that’s what it took.
2 | Buy a farm (or rent one anyway)
We recorded Born Under Saturn at Angelic [a residential recording studio] in Banbury. We were there for a couple of months on and off and would come back to London with a load of recordings and I’d put them on my computer and mess around – basically the same way as the first album. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, but when you’re up at that farm, you’re in the middle of nowhere and you know you’re there to work.
3 | Go big or go home
There wasn’t any point in coming back and making something completely different, totally weird or totally new. It was more about building on what was good in the first album. Django Django was recorded in a bedroom but for this album we could get the sound of the big room. It’s what we like about Beach Boys’ and Rolling Stones’ recordings, so we thought, “Why not?”
4 | Tour wisely but not too well
There’s definitely not much glamour in touring, unless you’re a band like Radiohead and can have private chefs and ping pong tables. It’s a battle of wills, really – don’t drink too much, try to be healthy, don’t sleep all day.
5 | Keep your eyes on the road
When you tour America you can travel for hours and see McDonald’s, Wendy’s and KFC signs on a loop, but things can come out of that. Somewhere like Detroit might be a hellhole for one person, but the most inspiring place ever for another and allow them to come up with an amazing techno record. You have to find inspiration in places.
6 | Remember: small is beautiful
There were plenty of shows when we first started touring where the crowd was just one man and his dog. But they often turned out to be the most enjoyable because you could have a laugh, try new things on stage, and if the crowd was fun, go out and get drunk with them after. We played to 60,000 people in Japan, which was great, but you don’t get quite the same buzz as playing The Wardrobe in Leeds.
7 | Shut out the noise
What will people make of Born Under Saturn? I guess the proof will be when it comes out. I’m still completely in the dark as to what we’ve done – but it was like that making the first album. We thought, “Right, we might put this out and no one will care.” But there’s no point in worrying. I was just overjoyed to be back in the studio.
Born Under Saturn by Django Django is out on 4 May (Because Music)