Django Django’s new album Glowing in the Dark has a running theme of escape: from constraints, from despair, from small town life, and even, in dreams, from the Earth. But that’s not something new: the band’s entire career has essentially been about evading, eluding and growing beyond things: beyond scenes, sounds, expectations, influences, even their own perception of themselves. “We only ever foresaw ourselves being a weird little cult band,” says Northern Irish singer/guitarist Vinny Neff; “with just a core audience. We never thought four albums in we’d be playing big festivals. But it’s happened and we’ve gone with it.”
The ambitions might have been small, but the thoughtful, sometimes oblique, Neff and the rather more direct and garrulous Dundee born and bred Dave McLean had faith in their cult project from its humble beginnings, coming gradually to life in a primordial soup of influences. Both were raised on the musical diversity of the early 90s, when as Vinny says, his older sisters and their peers could “listen to indie bands in the day, then go raving at [revered rave den] Kelly’s in Portrush”, and hardcore rave was “something you might hear when a teacher puts a tape on in the bus for a school trip.”
It’s a glorious move forward, and even now, Dave is thinking forward to how they might stay fresh next time around: while COVID19 lockdown has given him a lot of time to work on his own electronic tracks at home, he’s dreaming of bringing in an outside producer for Django Django to free him from that role and let him concentrate on songs. Not many musicians are this future focused at such an uncertain time. But there’s a natural optimism to Django Django that shines through in their conversation and in their music alike. It’s not the naivety of youth any more – they clearly know themselves and their processes any more, and don’t need to hide their light under a bushel.
Rather it’s a kind of confidence that comes of finally having processed the shock that Vinny felt, when he signed on the dole after finishing the first album, then immediately discovered that his “weird little cult band” was doing well enough to sign back off again. Glowing in the Dark is a record about escape, sometimes sad and yearning, but very often full of hope: and that’s the sound of experience, because this is a band who know what it is to exceed even your wildest hopes.