You couldn’t put a set of fresher faces to the U.K. dance music revival than that of Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence, 22, and brother Howard, 19. Not that the duo, flanked by outfits like Rudimental and Duke Dumont, see it as a revival.
“It’s always been there,” protests Howard.
He’s right. The self-confessed music geeks from Surrey, southeast England, know their music and have made a pitch-perfect judgment of the industry landscape: singles “Latch” and “White Noise (featuring AlunaGeorge)” have both claimed top ten positions in the U.K. charts, while their debut album “Settle” secured the No.1 spot in their homeland and peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200 in the States (and No. 2 on the Dance/Electronic chart).
Despite the hype and sellout U.S. and European tours, the siblings, who reference early influences as disparate as Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel to J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest, keep their public profile on the down-low. In fact, they’ve only just moved out of their parents’ home this past summer. Metro chats to Howard about underage clubbing, the return of House music and not selling out.
METRO: It’s been a pretty intense year for you guys. How are you handling the schedule?
HOWARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, man, it’s been pretty crazy. We’ve had a very intense touring schedule along with trying to finish our album — it’s been intense but really good.
Are you ever at home these days?
We’re on the road 90 percent of the time. We get like one day home once a fortnight — something like that.
You first started playing in clubs at age 15. Did you ever have any trouble gaining entry?
Um, yeah. That used to happen most times we played clubs [laughs]. They’d just say “No” straight away and you’d have to call the manager of the club and he’d come down and generally put me behind the decks, tell me to play and then say “get out.”
No booze, I take it?
A soft drink, if that, man.
Are you starting to pick up or get offers from groupies?
Yeah, yeah, quite a lot [chuckles]. One in Seattle was quite funny. I was standing at one side of my workstation and then I turned around and there was like a note on my keyboard. So someone had somehow gotten onto the stage and put this note on there without me seeing. It was a phone number with a message saying, “Call me after the show, I’ll be waiting around the back.” I was like “Oh my God.”
How does your girlfriend take propositions like that?
She’s OK. I don’t drink, so I think it’s easier for her to trust me.
You don’t drink or do drugs, so what is your vice?
I just dance. I just dance loads.
Where do you get the energy? Red Bull?
Well, no, it’s terrible for you. Actually, maybe I should do that … Red Bull is a good idea.
You’re signed to a big label [PMR Records]. Were you concerned that you’d lose your sound in favor of something more commercial?
Yeah, very, very concerned — we were very careful. We made it very clear that we were going to carry on doing what we were doing. If that wasn’t OK, we just weren’t going to sign anything.
Would you rather lose the money and fame than your sound?
Yeah, definitely, man. All that stuff is secondary to writing. The writing is what we’re in this for. That’s why J Dilla’s such a big influence on us. I don’t know of any song produced or even remotely to do with J Dilla that’s not incredible and I think that’s to do with creative quality control.
You’re credited with being at the forefront of the House revival. Does that make you feel good?
Yeah, sort of. Those people are a bit misinformed. House has always been there, it’s just because as a genre it wasn’t cool before.
In “When a Fire Starts To Burn” the old timers look spaced out on MDMA. Were amphetamines your inspiration for this video?
[laughs] No. We actually wanted a rapper on that track but timing didn’t work out, which was annoying, so I just Google-searched for a preacher in Harlem. I clicked on it and thought this is “Golden material for sampling.” It’s just a comment on how backwards some of those crazy shows are in America, where they’re like give us money and we’ll make God love you.
Have some of your original fans deserted you since you went down a more poppy route?
A very small percentage has kind of done that whole thing of, “I used to know them when they were cool” and I’m like “it was only a year ago when you liked me [laughs].” That’s the thing with being in the charts, people don’t consider you underground anymore — and people love to cling to that.