Since that time he got robbed in Kings Cross during his first night’s visit in Australia, Will Daunt can add many a new favorable adventure to his memory bag. For one, he has become the lead vocalist to successful band Zulu Winter, which he formed with his fellow London college buddies. Two, said band had next to no tour experience when they were invited to support indie pop giants, Foster The People during their London and Ireland shows. Three, around four weeks ago the members of audience at a label festival in Japan failed to notice Daunt trip over their keyboardist, while leaving the stage. Yes, the road that paves the way for gentlemanly swagger is glowing, with opportunity in abundance. Due to embark on an Australia-Do-Over for Splendour In The Grass (with the band in tow of course), Daunt speaks to me about Zulu Winter’s unusual name, their writing process and the idea of creating pop music that leaks darker depths.
Zulu Winter are scholarly gents raised on literature and art, cerebral subjects and obscure Russian film-makers. These five firm friends have produced music that has seen them hailed as the most exciting guitar band in Britain off the back of just a handful of shows.
“It feels really good [to get positive feedback],” says Daunt of the glowing reviews Zulu Winter has been collecting, “It’s indeed very flattering. [However]…the most important thing as a band is to not pay too much attention to everything because the bottom line is we can get hailed as the ‘next so and so’ which is nice, but we haven’t done anything yet. We may be a terrible flop; the best thing to do is to work as hard as you can, play great shows and carry on writing.”
The band began amongst the midst of essays and drudging homework while at University. “We went to school together…[and began playing]…various bits and pieces....[mostly covered stuff],” Daunt explains. “About two years ago we sort of decided to write an album.”
Within that time they managed to secure Zulu Winter as a supporting act for Foster The People, which was consequently their first tour as well. Will describes this impressive feat as “incredibly fun”. “We wrote some great songs and got to play in front of loads of cool people,” Daunt begins, “and these are proper people too – not the industry. They were there to have a good time have a good experience. We hadn’t played that many shows yet so it was pretty terrifying, [but] good for us to hone our craft. We made a glaring mistake, but no one noticed apart from us. We laughed, questioning, ‘How did we get away with that?’”
Their unusual name was birthed due to their individualism and indecisiveness. “We are five quite individual minded blokes, and we all have strong ideas,” he laughs. “It was frustrating to find a name. [So one day] I just put two completely unrelated words together that meant nothing, and we all agreed that we liked it!”
When asked how they wanted to create music that was catchy yet unique, Daunt replies, “I don’t think we had a grand master plan.” With the various band members unique musical tastes constantly informing the creative process, Daunt explains it’s difficult to create straight pop music, which is a trait they like and admire in other artists. “Our guitarist Henry is into avant-garde music. Our keyboardist, Dom is into '70s music, especially David Axelrod...even if I wrote a pop song, strange elements would always be creeping into it.”
Inspired by artists such as Radiohead, Zulu Winter wish to similarly write pop songs that are initially catchy, however upon listen after listen, display darker depths that someone would be able to listen to on a few different levels without it getting tiresome.
The new album Language was released this year through their label Dew Process. Daunt describes their style as “melancholic danceable pop” which may even leave people feeling a little sad. “It’s a little darker than people maybe expect,” Daunt warns. “There are some more cinematic and slower songs. So I don’t think you could label it as straight up pop.”
Zulu Winter spent the last year in seclusion creating, writing and generally pissing off their girlfriends to perfect the catchy-as pop tracks with character. And now they have everyone talking. Daunt says that it means the world to have finally finished a full length album. “We’ve been writing it for 18 months off and on, and mainly writing in evenings,” he says. “The majority of 2010 and 2011 was spent in a darkened room. [During that time] you can lose perspective, because it’s just the five of you, so to have finished and to have had it mastered was really an amazing feeling. The next step will be to see how well it goes.”
After hitting the UK and Europe touring circuit with Foster The People they have recently had a swag of European festivals before heading to the States for SXSW over the next week. Come July, Australia will witness the band as a whole grace our shores. “As a band, this is our first time [in Australia],” he says, “And we are beyond excited. [We are looking forward to] playing for people who potentially don’t know much about us, or have maybe only heard one song. It’s exciting for a band to win people over.”
BY TAMARA VOGL
Along with playing the soldout Splendour In The Grass, ZULU WINTER will be playing The Corner with Howler on Tuesday July 24. Language is out now via Dew Process.