Music interview: Iglu & Hartly

ON paper Jarvis Anderson, founding member of American pop rockers Iglu & Hartly, is a pretty cavalier frontman.

Presented as the archetypal LA surf dude, the band's lead singer invariably generates teenage frenzy when he appears at gigs, Iggy Pop-like, in a semi-naked state.

But, take more than a fleeting listen to their biggest hit, In This City, and it's obvious the group are about more than surface.

"The song is all about coming into your own," says Anderson, in a relaxed drawl. 'It's telling everyone that it's possible to believe in yourself – a lot of kids today are lacking self confidence."

"There's a lot of stupid c**p out there and kids really need to focus on some positive messages."

Playing at The Cockpit next month, Iglu & Hartly began life while Jarvis and two of his bandmates, keyboard player and vocalist Sam Martin and guitarist Simon Katz, were students at the University of Colorado.

But with the group's evolution, their studies came to an abrupt end and they relocated to California's Echo Park. From there they grabbed two more members – drummer Luis Rosiles and bass player Michael Bucher – and whatever chance they could get to perform on the Hollywood club circuit.

With their origins firmly in the US, it was ironic that the UK label Mercury eventually signed the boys in 2008 and brought them exposure on this side of the Atlantic.

The band's name quickly entered the public consciousness when their single, the aforementioned In This City, became one of that year's big anthems and their debut album & Then Boom, also performed respectably.

Meanwhile their unique performance style earned them the raucous tag and, initially, prompted the rolling of eyes in Britain. But Jarvis insists it's actually been perpetuated by audiences at their UK gigs.

"The British have really held on to the idea that you go to a show and just let loose," he says. "They tend to be a little more conservative in the US. Everyone in the UK gets there early, gets involved.

"In the US they're a little bit cold; they don't jump up and down right away like you guys. I love the camaraderie when we tour the UK too. We've got a rock star tour manager called Scott McKenzie – he's a chubby guy from Bristol and he's hilarious."

As the group prepare a second album for a summer release and pepper their UK tour with new material, early signs are they're likely to be more than one-hit wonders.

In fact some observers have already dubbed them 'the new Beastie Boys', hopefully enjoying the same longevity. And under that apparently carefree exterior, are they secretly working frantically to achieve this?

"We just write good music,' he laughs. "That's pretty much our career strategy and we have a great time doing it. We can't help it if we're happy and we're having fun.

"This next album, though, there are more people working with us than our last album, I still do all the producing and most of the writing. I think it's important to keep an open outlet. If you focus internally, you don't get the same inspiration.

Anderson's relaxed approach to his career is just as obvious when shurgging off the negative attention of come critics.

"Reviews are interesting," he sighs. "I'll take negative criticism if someone explains why. We laugh hard at some of them – we take it with a light heart.

"I certainly haven't really read a negative review that's changed my mind about anything. If anyone's got an opinion maybe I'll use it if it's good, I'm not that stubborn.

"This tour is going to have the same vibe and the same love as the last one. Only now, we're better performers. Some acts still shut people out and pretend they're not there. We're all about letting people in and absorbing the whole show."

Iglu & Hartly play at The Cockpit, Swinegate, Leeds on February 14.