The Last Dinner Party: 'Expect the unexpected'
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Leeds Beckett venue, but I’ve walked past it so many times, so it’ll be nice to go in and see what it’s like,” she says.
In her youth Hebden Bridge Trades Club had been Mayland’s regular stamping ground, and she was at school with a couple of members of The Orielles. Another of Hebden’s best-known bands has somehow eluded her, though. “I’ve still not seen Working Men’s Club, we keep missing each other,” she says. “So we’ve not been in the same room for me to say, ‘Hello, we’re from the same town’.”
To coincide with their appearance of Live At Leeds, The Last Dinner Party will be releasing a new single. “It’s called My Lady of Mercy,” Mayland says.
Its predecessor, Sinner, she wrote. “I sing lead on that, which was really fun,” she says. “It’s about growing up in a small Yorkshire town, having a lovely sheltered childhood, the church was very present, and then growing up and starting to realise that maybe it’s not as inclusive as I hoped it would be, growing into my queerness and realising that wasn’t spoken about. The first time I heard the words for anything it wasn’t used in a positive way.
“So it was that push and pull of moving away to London and feeling a freedom in anonymity, it’s a lot more open-minded here in a lot of ways, but then I miss Yorkshire, I miss the people, I miss the landscape so much. Turmoil is an intense word, but it’s that kind of feeling of a homeliness for somewhere that doesn’t necessarily embrace me in my current self completely.”
The nucleus of The Last Dinner Party formed while Mayland, bassist Georgia Davies and singer Abigail Morris were first-year students at Goldsmiths University in London. “Georgia knew Abi because she was on her course. Also me and Georgia went to a lot of gigs together and had such similar ideas about the world and society and activism. Definitely when we met we aligned in lots of ways. She’s also queer as well, so that was really important,” Mayland says.
The band forged a reputation as live act before they signed to Island Records. Mayland says: “The biggest drive for us to do a band was to be able to play live because that’s what we enjoy doing. We enjoy going to gigs and watching live music and we wanted to be part of that scene.
“A hundred per cent it’s helped me as a musician. I never planned to be one, I only started electric guitar about two-and-a-half years ago, so having that time to get comfortable with my parts and know my instrument a bit more was invaluable and really fun. I’ve never been as nervous for a gig as I was at our first one at The George Tavern in Shadwell. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this if it’s going to be like this every time’, I was so nervous.”
Although Mayland says she’s “more of a vocalist”, she was inspired by the “jazzy chords” that Amy Winehouse favoured. “I learnt guitar to accompany myself singing, but then was finding some more joy in exploring that as an instrument. That coincided with Abi and Georgia saying, ‘We’re going to start a band if you want to be in it’. But I’m still learning and I hope we all carry on learning throughout our hopefully long career.”
As big fans of Queen, Metallica and ABBA, The Last Dinner Party like to make their gigs fun. “It’s really important to us that it’s a whole show visually and sonically, and it’s involving as well – that’s why we like people to dress up because we want them to feel like they’re a part of something, all sharing in an experience,” Mayland says. “It’s not just standing and watching us prance around on stage, it’s we’re all enjoying this together.”
After the initial buzz about the band when they released their first single, Nothing Matters, in April, there was short-lived social media backlash. It’s something that Mayland says they were prepared for. “We saw it happen a lot to Wet Leg and we were getting a lot of comparisons to them even though our music is not alike, it’s just because we’re women, but we were prepared for it. When it was happening we were like (sighs) ‘All right, guys, chill out’, but it didn’t touch us at all, it didn’t make us feel any type of way because it’s not true.
“It was like people online were constructing these made-up stories about us and then getting angry about them, and we were like, ‘Why are you getting upset with yourself? We’ve not said anything or done any of that.’ So it was quite easy to disconnect from any of that and let it happen on Twitter and then fizzle out.”
Having played at many festivals over the summer, including Glastonbury and Leeds and Reading, The Last Dinner Party’s album is now “ready to go” next year. Mayland says that people should “expect the unexpected” from them. “Our next single is very different from the previous two. People who’ve been to our live shows know that there’s much bigger range, so I hope that people who’ve loved Nothing Matters will love the heavy industrial rock one that we’ve got ready to go.”
The Last Dinner Party play at Live At Leeds on Saturday October 14. https://www.thelastdinnerparty.co.uk/