Dressed to the nines and dialled up to 10, The Last Dinner Party have reached heights of fame that many want but few ever get. Yet their mysterious rise has caused raised eyebrows (at best) and misogynist hate on the internet (at worst): they supported The Rolling Stones (the band) at Hyde Park last summer before releasing a debut single, and have had two interview features in Rolling Stone (the magazine) in just the last three months. We caught up with them to understand the phenomenon.
Up until you released Nothing Matters in April, there was a lot of talk about you being ‘the band that hasn’t released any music but somehow supported The Rolling Stones’. It seems like a lot of your rise has been down to YouTube videos of live sets, and there are lots of live videos. Who first recorded videos of you playing live?
The first videos of us playing live were filmed by Lou Smith. He’s a wonderful photographer and videographer who is at the centre of the underground London music scene where we came from. He came to our third gig and put a video of our whole set on his YouTube channel and that ended up being our lucky break, as so many more fans and people in the industry saw it. It’s a beautiful thing to know that we’re part of the history of the London music scene through Lou.
Did you intend on building your reputation via YouTube? I think it’s really sweet because the attention feels like it’s on TikTok these days.
YouTube was never part of the plan; that was really a happy accident. Our intention was always to build a reputation from the live show itself. We wanted our fan base to grow through word of mouth and the need to come see us in the flesh rather than being entities online. Playing live is a lot more fun for us than trying to go viral on Tiktok, and it’s worked. I think people miss the excitement of finding a new band in real life right in front of them, rather than sharing a 15 second video online.
When did you realise it was actually working in gaining traction
If we could pinpoint a moment where things started to feel bigger it was maybe our first headline show at The Victoria in London. It sold out, and for the first time we realised that the people who wanted to come and see us weren’t just friends and family but people who had been touched and intrigued by the music. The concept of having fans is still a surreal one to come to terms with.
Do you think that getting bigger in this way has generated more hype for the live shows than there would have been otherwise? Does it put lots of pressure on you to deliver a bigger and better live show every time?
Yes absolutely – it’s generated more hype, which is what we wanted! The live show is central to our identity and it’s where we thrive. I wouldn’t say we feel pressure to keep delivering something bigger – from the very first show we went in with the attitude and theatricality as if we were playing a stadium rather than a pub. Whether we’re playing to seven or 1000 people we’re always going to take the same approach which is giving it our all and making it the best possible show for the audience.
I love that your most recent show was themed folk horror. I find the theme really interesting, and it seems like a lot of people do. It also feels kind of ironic because it’s generating hype in London, which by definition is not where folk horror is usually imagined. What do you think draws so many people – you and me, but also everyone else – to folk horror as an idea?
I think folk horror is having a resurgence right now as it’s in direct opposition to the Internet. People really do want to touch grass in the literal sense. Being chronically online puts one severely out of touch with nature, and it can become very alienating and nihilistic. Folk horror represents a spiritual otherness to lean on in a world that has become so spiritually bankrupt. I think young people are desperately looking for rituals, community and oneism based in the real world during this climate of physical estrangement. However, this inevitably comes with the twist of irony as the trend was born from the Internet – did you really go to the pagan ritual in the woods if you didn’t post about it on Instagram?
How does it feel to have such a meteoric rise? Is there a lot of pressure to maintain the momentum and stay on the same trajectory?
We still feel like we have a lot of room to grow so we’re taking every day as it comes and not getting too complacent with our growth. We’re all writing new material constantly, and pushing ourselves creatively. There is pressure of course, but by always reaching to be better players and performers then we hope that our rise is backed up by skill and competence.
Did anything change in the band once quote unquote industry people got involved?
Before industry people got involved, it was just the five of us, and in many ways it still feels like just the five of us. Having industry involvement is incredible and we’re so lucky, but it’s so important to us to be able to come back to each other and our friendship and have a laugh. So no, things between us have not changed, besides becoming closer as friends.
There are unfortunately a lot of people who have accused you of being ‘clearly made by a label. Artists such as Delilah Bon or Blk Alt Era eat them for breakfast.’ Why do you think listeners feel such a strong urge to pit women in music against each other like that?
We don’t really know, honestly. Music is criminally underfunded in this country and some people feel as though if their favourite underground artist isn’t making it and another is, then there must be something nefarious or secretive going on. There are far fewer women than men in alternative music, so we all get compared to one another regardless of genre. There should be so much more room for women, POC, gender non-conforming, working class musicians, but that is the fault of the biased music industry, not the musicians themselves.