Andy Spence of New Young Pony Club chats to Time Out about life so far, and future plans…
New Young Pony Club burst onto the scene in 2007, spearheaded by fiery frontwoman Tahita Bulmer and armed with an arsenal of weapons-grade electro-pop goodness. And, for a while there, it looked like they were going to take over the world. They rocked the NME Indie Dance Tour alongside CSS and Klaxons and released ‘Ice Cream’, a catchy single whose bowmp-bowmp bassline and disaffected vocals saw it being snapped up for a ubiquitous global Intel ad. Bigger still, their debut album, Fantastic Playroom, was a music press darling, receiving almost unanimously favourable reviews and being nominated for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize, the UK music industry’s most coveted gong. And then, like a remote mountain cabin in a horror movie, they suddenly went quiet.
So when we heard that the band’s producer and guitarist, Andy Spence, would be coming to Alpha to play a DJ set at See You Next Friday, we had to find out what happened. And what happened, it seems, was the infamous second album syndrome. ‘We created lots of copycat bands and some of them have done really well, while some of them have done better than us and are massive – not mentioning any names here – so we felt we had to go somewhere else.
‘The new album’s more dancey, darker and not so poppy. We toured the first album for a year and a half, so playing it live is on my mind – being a guitarist, I was trying to create more parts for myself this time. A lot of it last time was really basic.’
The ‘darker’, less poptastic sound might well be a result of the band entering some kind of wilderness period. When we ask whether it will be released by Modular, the label that put out Fantastic Playroom, Andy is noncommittal, saying that the band are ‘in negotiations’ with the company. In the meantime, Andy and Tahita are continuing to work on the album while the other three members pursue their own projects.
On the plus-side, he says, it reduces the number of outside influences on the music. ‘We’ve got our own studio in north London and we’re trying to take our time and do it in bits, y’know? We’re recording it ourselves – it’s the only way we know how to work, really, to create on our own and just do it without any involvement from anyone else.’
It’s a bit of a turnaround, given how ubiquitous New Young Pony Club seemed at one point, especially given the Intel ad. But Andy’s pretty philosophical about the actual impact it had on their record sales and their shelf life: ‘[Providing music for advertisements] used to be a big thing; it used to project bands’ careers. We thought that if we did the ad, great things would happen and it’d be great exposure. And it was… a bit. It created a bit of a buzz on our MySpace page, but it’s not like it made us huge. It raised awareness of a track that people already knew anyway and was getting played in clubs.’
And it’s the clubs that Andy’s returning to with his DJ side project, something that serves a number of purposes for him: ‘It gets me out of the house,’ he says, ‘and you do get to go to amazing places that you haven’t been before, like Dubai. It also gives you a chance to listen to what’s happening in clubland and for us to listen to our favourite songs.’ And what songs can we expect? ‘Lots of female electronic pop,’ he enthuses, ‘[Time Out favourite for 2009] Little Boots is one, and La Roux, the cocknbullkid… There’re a lot of female electro bands around at the moment, which is funny for us ‘cos we were there two years ago. But it’s nice to have some company.’