They’ve been performing for the better part of a year and have only released a handful of singles but the hype surrounding them, their following, and their acclaim have blown up to be something of a supernova. London five-piece, Zulu Winter are a band fast becoming the ones to watch in 2012. Likened to Friendly Fires and Coldplay, their atmospheric pop-rock sounds great – it’s catchy, bold and ascertains a certain suaveness, but people have been asking: do they have enough to outlive their own initial flare?
I caught up with keyboardist, Dom Millard whilst they were playing at the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands to discuss the old year, the new year and the band’s resolutions.
“Eating more carrots.” Dom begins, “to put the seeing in the dark theory to the test.” Quite an amusing and ironic resolution considering how Zulu Winter’s immediate future looks so bright. The immediate past? “We’ve been locked away in London writing and rehearsing for about two years now.” He explains. No wonder it is then that they’ve arrived to such a welcoming public. The closeness of their group and the concentration on music has really come through in the guilelessness of their sound. “Before that? We were all mostly doing ‘proper’ jobs, some more than others but all doing music as much as we could.”
Zulu Winter rose into the limelight in a year stained with media controversy, from the London riots to civil unrest in the Middle East, their energetic single “Never Leave” was released by Double Denim Records in November and was instantly lauded with positive criticism, the just as well received, sweetly rhythmical B-side, “Lets Move Back To Front” topped off their statement of intent. Have any of the numerous over-hyped media ‘events’ of last year made you think any differently about the state of the planet? There has certainly been a response in the musical community, would you consider writing political music? “Never say never. Last year had a lot of interring things going on for everyone I think. For me, PJ Harvey’s album last year was a beautiful response to England’s position in the world at the moment.”
Now, Zulu Winter have been thrown in the same pool as Coldplay by a few people, and I think the whole hating Coldplay thing has gone full circle. Insofar as it was pretty rare to find normal people openly endorsing them, but now they’re so widely disliked, its kind of a niche thing to like them again. But I digress. Despite all the stick, Coldplay are a huge, record-breaking band, Zulu Winter definitely have a touch of Coldplay in them, and being classed alongside them can’t all be a bad thing. How do you feel about these comparisons and where would you place your own music along the ever-increasing, ever-hybridizing list of music genres? “Luckily that’s not our job!” Dom explains, skillfully avoiding the question. “I hope we’ll manage to create our own space and someone will come up with a bizarre genre name for us.”
They tied up a successful year with an almost ethereal performance of “Lets Move Back To Front” for Black Cab Sessions, albeit a squashed one restricted to the confines of taxi. “We ate a strict diet of leeks and yogurt for a week before hand!” He explains. And looking ahead, what would you like to achieve in 2012? “Get the album out and play it to as many people as possible!” Dom enthuses. Their debut album, set to be released early May, is currently being mixed and expectations are skyrocketing, though this doesn’t seem to phase him. Has it been a difficult process? “In places! Voices have been raised, blood was shed.”
The Zulu boys are intelligent and talented. Their blogspot, packed with cultural influences and ‘musical friends’, suggests that they aren’t your stereotypical self-absorbed ‘image’ band, but an outwardly focused and inherently human one. This could well be the year for Zulu Winter. However, feeling facetious, I end by asking what he would be doing instead this year if the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world in December were true. He answers simply “I’d set as many world records as possible, so then if the world did end, they’d stand forever.” So we’d have to hope that the final edition of the Guinness Book of Records found its way into an otherworldly, archive along with other important remnants of our society like the Harry Potter series, a portrait of George Bush and a 12” copy of Thriller.
Zulu winter are playing at the XOYO in London on the 26th of January, so get out there and make up your own mind, because our time might just be running out.