Ahead of a stellar Deaf Institute show on 28 July, Silent Radio caught up with one of the most talked about bands of 2023, London’s The Last Dinner Party.

The five-piece are exceptionally unusual in that they have built their fledgling reputation based largely on their live reputation. Halfway through their second year of hype, the group still only have two songs available to buy or stream anywhere, but their name has filled the most sought-after music magazine pages and websites already. We spoke to them about their meteoric rise, their background and thoughts of their debut album.

You play a lot of gigs, is that a choice you made early on?

Abigail Morris [vocals]: Yeah, we love it. It’s always been our priority from the beginning. And it’s just the best way to reach people, it’s how we’ve always done it. That’s how we’ve been able to build our fanbase.

It’s like you’ve chosen to tour instead of releasing music, which is really against the grain. What’s the rationale there? Because it’s obviously working.

Georgia Davis [bass]: It’s just taking more of an old school approach to it, I think. When we set out, we didn’t think we had to just start recording and releasing stuff right away. Releasing music wasn’t a high priority because we were kind of inspired by the bands that we would see on the London music scene that had been more of a word-of-mouth, whisper-in-the-wind, cool thing. Bands like Black Midi and Black Country, New Road. It’s more exciting! I remember getting a CD of Black Midi from a chip shop – it was like, yeah, you can hear their music, but you have to go to this kebab shop to get it.

AM: It makes it more fun and interesting. It makes it more of an experience and a community too. The only time you can hear these bands is by going to the show, so it becomes more of an event. You become more invested.

Lizzie Mayland [guitar]: And we wanted to get the recording right and do it as well as we possibly could, and that took a while of gigging to get to a place that we were happy with.

You have played a lot at the Windmill in Brixton, which has been the base for those bands you mentioned over the last few years. Sound-wise, you don’t quite fit in with that vibe, but do you see yourselves as belonging to that scene?

AM: Yes and no. When Georgia and I first moved to London, the Windmill scene was the pinnacle of everything. All I wanted was to be part of that. And then I feel like we went through it and now we’re sitting in a different spot, adjacent to it. We didn’t spend loads of time there in that community and I don’t think we are a ‘Windmill band’ in the same way that Goat Girl or Black Midi are, but we owe a lot to that community as a whole.

GD: I think people-wise, we are part of that scene, but music-wise not really. Musically we’re quite different. 

AM: We just missed a lot of it too, we’re kind of a post-Windmill band. There are so many good bands at the moment – Picture Parlour, The New Eves, Opus Kink.

GD: It really does feel like a community though. I always say it’s going to make a really good sociology essay one day.

AM: It should be a module – they should teach the South London music scene in the late 2010s

Based on how expansive your sound is, I’m guessing you all bring quite different musical tastes to the table?

LM: Yeah, we all have pretty different backgrounds, musically. 

Aurora Nischevi [keyboards]: There’s an openness as well. When we get into a room, we’re all pretty positive to whatever somebody brings in as something they want us to listen to. It’s like, ‘Yes! Let’s try this now!’

AM: It’s about not being snobby or dogmatic about what we want are sound to be. There’s a Dinner Party sound, but the reason is because we’re five people that are trying to avoid the trap of getting stuck into one way of writing.

GD: We place no restriction of genre on ourselves.

LM: We try to bring in different instruments too. Emily already plays three, and we’re going to force more on her. It would be fun to think of what genre we wouldn’t want to get involved in.

AN: Grime! [they all laugh]

AM: We do everything except grime. 

Abigail, you have already been compared to Kate Bush quite a lot. Are you ready for people to stop doing that yet?

AM: No, because it’s a huge compliment! I don’t think I sound that much like her. Sometimes I sing high and have a British accent, but no, I think it’s complimentary. I love her. I don’t think it’s super accurate, but it’s still lovely. I’ve always been drawn to anything theatrical or over the top. Klaus Nomi, David Bowie, Jobriath, Sparks – I like pomp.

How close are you to thinking about a debut album?

GD: It’s done! We finished it in the first week of January this year, and I think it will be out next year. But there will be more little presents out before that.

AM: We made it with James Ford, the kindest man in music. Maybe the best person we’ve ever collaborated with. It was such a joy. And so generous of spirit and talent. He’s incredible.

Now that you’ve got this reputation for barely releasing any music, how do you decide what to release and when? The pressure’s on now!

GD: That was quite tricky actually! We can’t be the band that don’t have songs anymore. For the first two, we followed the label’s lead, and they were the right call.

LM: We definitely wanted to start with something high energy and bombastic and fun.

AM: It’s fun because I think ‘Nothing Matters’ and ‘Sinner’ are maybe the most sonically similar on the record. And what we’re going to come out with next is going to be a departure, because I think the whole album is very…there’s a lot happening. There’s not another ‘Nothing Matters’ on the record. Every track is a different showcase of our ability and our interests. The next single is going to be quite different.

Did you expect all this? Your first gig was in late 2021, you’re still a very new band, but the reception has been crazy.

LM: The thing we didn’t expect was when interest started coming. And then we got a really good team, and then we kind of came up with a plan. But we had no idea exactly the scale of things and how many people were going to come to the gigs or listen to the songs. Fuck knows what’s happening.

The Last Dinner Party play The Academy 2 on 12th October 2023

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.