Little May were playing Sydney pubs just a few short years ago, but these days they are selling out gigs across the globe, and sharing bills with bands like Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes, and Angus and Julia Stone.
The trio spent 2015 traversing the planet, playing shows in the UK, Europe and USA, and recorded their debut album, For the Company, in New York – with The National’s Aaron Brooking Dessner acting as producer, no less!
It’s been a crazy ride for Liz Drummond, Annie Hamilton and Hannah Field (who describe themselves as ‘age-old friends’)!
We’ve been hooked on the dark, dreamy sounds of Little May’s stunning LP, so we were stoked to get the chance to catch up with Liz, who gave us the skinny on recording in New York, what fans can expect at their upcoming Aussie shows, and why Avril Lavigne is still getting plenty of play in her car.
We love the songs (and production of Aaron Brooking Dessner) on For the Company. Tell us about the recording of it and how it shows the evolution of the Little May sound.
“Thank you! I’m glad you like the album. The recording process was quite a different one for us. We went to Hudson in Upstate New York to record the album with Aaron. We had been playing the material at shows before leaving to the States, and we had some banter with Aaron about how we were going to approach the songs in the studio.
“We only had five weeks to track, record and produce the album. It was a massive challenge for us on many levels, and we learnt an unbelievable amount in that time. We literally just let go and went with the process.
“We took apart a few songs on the album (namely “Bow & Arrow”, “Sold”, “Chemicals”) and rewrote them – and parts of them – with Aaron. Aaron has such a profound and thoughtful approach to music. We embraced a lot of subtleties and left aside some of the more obvious guitar driven angst. His influence was exactly what we were vibing for this album. We wanted to create something that you have to really sit and sink your teeth into.
“It’s just the first chapter of us, and the start of our evolution.”
You’re touring extensively in May. How amped are you for this tour and what’s been the highlight of your recent time on the road?
“I can’t wait for this next tour. We recently supported City and Colour and next up we have our own headline Australian tour starting in May. We have done so much overseas touring in the last two years, and it has been incredible, but it will be great to explore a bit more of our own country too. We haven’t even played in Newcastle before!
“A highlight for me so far would have been playing in Germany (Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne), and being completely surprised by the turn out. The vibes felt amazing for us.”
What are your top three tunes right now that really ‘open up your night’ – the tracks that you tend open your sets with?
“It can vary. We have been starting with “Home” lately, as it is more immediate than other songs. We used to start with “The Shine is Brighter at Night”, as it was the most bold and immediate song we had, but now it is completely different on the record.
“To be honest, we will plan our set list to what works practically with changing instruments, etc. I have guitars in different tunings and Annie swaps from guitar to synth a lot. So we have to consider that. too.”
With your current tour, how you manage to prepare the best set whilst still leaving room for those spontaneous moments to occur? Or do you play without a set structure in mind and simply take the spontaneous approach? Can you talk us through the approach to your sets?
‘We will always prepare a set list before each show, as set times change too. Festivals are strict with set times so we have to be prepared for them. Headline shows give us the chance to interact more and have banter.
“Something spontaneous or unexpected will usually happen at shows. An amp might cut out, someone’s guitar will fall off, Han might forget the words, Brawls… Sorcery…”
“But seriously, we are more relaxed at our own shows. There is always room for things to happen even if we plan the set.”
Tell us about your top five road trip tunes: what is about these tunes that makes them essential for those moments on the journey to a summer festival?
“Ohhh there are so many. If I was going on a road trip tomorrow this is what I would put on:”
Bob Seger – Night Moves
Because it’s a classic. Han and I used to put it on so much when we were younger.
Michael Jackson – They Don’t Really Care About Us
Because is the most badass song ever and makes me feel like fist pumping and fighting for justice.
The Jezabels – Pleasure Drive
This is my favourite song at the moment. It is sexy and punchy. I love The Jezabels, and when they team up with (producer) Lachlan Mitchell it is magic.
Avril Lavigne – Nobody’s Home
Call me crazy, but one of my favourite albums is Under My Skin from 2004. It might be a nostalgia thing, but I actually just love a lot of the songs. I play it in the car all the time. The chorus of this song is so good!
Methyl Ethel – Idee Fixe
I think this band is the best thing I have seen since I saw Tame Impala and Pond live for the first time. They are brilliant live, and I could listen to their songs forever.
When you’re not playing, what do you do for fun with your friends?
“We will go away somewhere, go camping or to some remote property, have dinner, drink wine, go to gigs or festivals, listen to music, eat stuff. I like going off and writing music in new places. I also love visiting and hanging out with my parents. They’re the best.”
Check out Little May’s song ‘Seven Hours’ below. This post is part of an editorial series presented by our friends at 5 SEEDS featuring some of Australia’s hottest musical talent, including RÜFÜS, Anna Lunoe, Little May, Hermitude, and Japanese Wallpaper.