Math enthusiasts get down, down under
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, pseudo-experimental post-punk group Love of Diagrams will soon be providing the states with their delicious slab of no wave rock and/or roll. The band’s career has been on the uppity-up as of late, as Love of Diagrams have recently signed with indie rock powerhouse Matador Records and scored an opening slot with Ted Leo and The Pharmacists.
The group’s full length for Matador, Mosaic, comes out April 10; the tour with Leo will hit Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts tonight, March 28. Collegian scored a chance to discuss both upcoming dates with Love of Diagrams’ guitarist and occasional singer, Luke Horton.
In a phone interview between Philadelphia and London, Horton explained to me his name (it’s Luke Horton, in case you were still wondering), his position in the band (still the guitarist) and the origin of the group’s name.
“The name mostly came from Atonia [Sellbach], the lead singer of the band, doing most of the artwork for the band, which she still does,” Horton said. “She used to make fliers for the band. She’s somewhat of an abstract artist, and at the time she was using lots of mathematical diagrams and things like that. So, I think it was just those words [“Love of Diagrams”] written down on one of her artworks and we just thought it was kind of appropriate,” he said.
While Love of Diagrams’ sound recalls bits and pieces of American groups like Sonic Youth or Pretty Girls Make Graves, Horton said that the group’s biggest influences are more Australian in nature. He noted that “mostly local Melbourne and Tasmanian bands” have shaped Love of Diagrams’ style.
“Tasmania is this island at the bottom of Australia, and the capital of Tasmania is Hobart. They had, in the ’90s, a real strong underground kind of music scene with lots of great bands. Monica [Fikerle], our drummer, was in a couple of those.”
Indeed, the Australian music scene is much more fertile than Americans may realize. When asked about his country’s band circuit, Horton said, “It’s good. It’s the sort of music we like and the sort of bands we go see. It’s pretty small, but because it’s quite small, you know in terms of getting crowds and whatever, there’s a really strong word of mouth and circuit. So, if people start getting excited about you in Melbourne and people have heard of you in the other cities, you can go on tour and do quite well just on the strength of word of mouth, without any press or anything like that. So, that’s kind of good in that way.
“But you do hit a brick wall in terms of popularity quite quickly. There’s just not the population to support that kind of difficult or experimental music or whatever,” he said.
But while Australia may not be able to support such a growing scene, the United States certainly can do so. Love of Diagrams have toured here before.
“In 2005, we came for about a month and toured up and down the West Coast and then flew out and toured up and down the East Coast for about two weeks each,” he said. “We came back for SXSW [big deal indie concert thingie!] and then we came back to make the record [Mosaic, to be released in April] with Bob Weston in Chicago. But the Ted Leo tour, which we’re about to begin, will be by far the biggest tour we will have ever done.”
Ted Leo is kind of a big deal. As an indie rock icon he has earned comparisons to such seminal music legends as Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer. He’s been touring and rocking out for a while, and has gathered a sizable following (which includes such hip cats as Nate Adams and myself). What’s more, this underground rock leader likes Love of Diagrams.
“Our booking agent gave him our record and he just really liked it,” Horton said. “We were looking to tour around that time because we’ve got a record coming out in April. So, he just liked it and decided to take us out on the road. We’re real excited about it.”
Mosiac, the album which Love of Diagrams will be touring behind, won’t be out until April 10, but post-punk fans can get a taste of it from the band’s preview EP, Love of Diagrams, which the Collegian praised back in the Jan. 31 issue.
“Well, two of the songs from the EP are actually on the record [Mosaic],” Horton said. “The idea of the EP was as an introduction because so many people have never heard of us. It was our way of getting an older song on there [“No Way Out,” from 2004’s We’ve Got Communication], and a couple songs from the new album.”
As for the full length, Horton said it is “along those same lines [as the EP], but there’s a bit more variety on the record. I think they chose more of the snappier, more accessible numbers to go on the EP as a good introduction to us. But on [Mosaic], there are some spookier, slower, darker songs on there.
“We had more time in the studio to experiment this time around, so we played around with effects and vocal effects and different instruments and stuff. It’s not highly experimental. We recorded [in Chicago] while snowed in at the time, so a bit of claustrophobia comes across on some of the songs, I think,” he said.
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