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The Last Dinner Party Go For Baroque

Bandmates Lizzy Mayland, Emily Roberts, and Aurora Nishevci talk friendship and fantasy ahead of first Canadian tour

by Maggie McPhee

Photos by Cal McIntyre

If the last decade of too-cool posturing, minimalist production trends, and post-post-ironic-irony have left you feeling a touch faint, The Last Dinner Party is here to satiate your hunger. The UK five piece is all about earnest maximalism, with the lush sound design and exquisite instrumentation to match. With their debut album Prelude to Ecstacy, they’ve laid a bountiful, bloody banquet atop a red velvet tablecloth and invited guests to eat with their hands. 

Vocalist Abigail Morris, bassist Georgia Davies, keyboardist Aurora Nischevi, and guitarists Emily Roberts and Lizzy Mayland have experienced a vertiginous catapult to superstardom since dropping their first single, “Nothing Matters” last year. Blending glam rock, early 2000s emo, camp theatrics and Emily Dickenson gravitas, their debut LP delivered on the hype, unearthing the perfect sound at the perfect moment. Now, they’re preparing to take their bacchanal around the world. Nischevi, Roberts and Mayland sat down with RANGE ahead of their first Canadian tour — fans in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver can fetch their doily bibs from the attic.

The live show, after all, is how TLDP cut their teeth. After bonding as freshmen in university over a mutual love of live shows, the five friends soon developed a hunch that they might be able to fill a niche missing in the London music scene. Not only was gigging the most fun and affordable way to finesse their sound, as Mayland explains, it was also a “tactical” approach for “building up a fanbase and excitement” through word of mouth.

It also meant by the time they hit the studio — they were hounded by record labels, the buzz was buzzing — they could play their songs through without interruption. “It felt natural,” says Nischevi, “it felt like, okay, we’ve done this a million times and we know what we’re doing.”

Having started out as friends, the fivesome find they’re able to work harmoniously as a unit. As Roberts shares, their songwriting process was “different for every song.” Morris might bring a piano demo, atop which the other musicians would “layer up lots of riffs and harmonies.”  But she clarifies: “We’re not a jammy band, we never have been. We mull things over quite a lot.” Rather, they share such a deep admiration for one another, they’re able to hold space for their interwoven ebbs and flows. Friendship comprises the core of the band. 

“At the base of all of our relationships is a massive respect for each other’s creative output, ideas, and instincts,” says Mayland. “We also look after each other on a personal level, if we’re finding anything difficult or stressful we talk to each other and have that comfort with each other.” 

It’s an intimacy that allows frontwoman Morris to pull straight from her diary when writing lyrics. Blending her love of literature with her own life experiences lends the songs a flair and familiarity. “Run ‘til I fall/How I wish the trees would swallow me/Make me a forest/Take away my soul,” she sings on ‘The Feminine Urge.’

“It’s the over-dramatisation of your own life,” says Mayland. “Fainting, overcome with emotions. That energy but applied to like, meeting someone at a bus stop and really getting on. Applying that theatrical lens to modern day life, it’s fun and yields poetic, interesting language.” 

 

 

The quintet captures the intensity of being in your early twenties, that, with hindsight 20/20, those once bright colours seem pale. TLDP enlists aesthetics to craft that melodrama, in all its sensorial glory. “It’s fantasy,” says Nischevi, “it makes sense for the visuals to be combined to create this whole world. When different mediums come together, it’s so powerful. When you go to a film, the music makes it.” 

TLDR is bringing enthusiasm back to indie rock, and fans have responded proportionately. As rumour has it, concertgoers are showing up wearing handmade outfits, with pieces of original art in tow. “We have a very creative fanbase,” says Nischevi. When I ask what Canadian audiences can expect from the tour, they start shouting buzzwords. “Theatre! Maximalism! Fun!” jabs Nischevi. “Music! Friendship!” replies Roberts. 

“We joke, but people have actually made friends at these shows,” says Mayland. “Which is really sweet.” 

TLDP are ushering in a new era, one of unapologetic nerdiness and sonic catharsis, and listeners are flooding the gates. If it’s true, as Morris sings, that nothing matters, in The Last Dinner Party’s world, that’s a great thing. 

The Last Dinner Play play MTelus in Montreal March 29, Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre March 30, and the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver April 10.