Grand National

Grand National

BandPopRock

Grand National is the perfect encounter of a musical culture that is equally stylish and eclectic, from Talk Talk to Joni Mitchell, from Nick Drake to Hall & Oates.

Biography

Biography by Chris Cook (CMU Daily)

Grand National are Rupert Lyddon and Lawrence ‘La’ Rudd, two London boys who came together through the British capital’s cover bands circuit, but who were soon dedicating the majority of their music making time together to their own original songs.

“It kind of happened by accident” Rupert says, explaining how the duo’s musical collaborations began. “It was just after New Years 2001. I knew La because we were playing in cover bands together. I suggested he come over to my place to put some vocals to some original tracks I’d been playing around with. And it kind of clicked straight away”.

What clicked was the ‘formula’ which became the ‘Grand National formula’. Rupert is the production genius (“Rupert does all the scientific twiddling!”, La explains) who single handedly creates the musical element that is so rich that most people not in the know assume they work with a whole orchestra of musicians. La is the words man. It is he who subconsciously writes and delivers the lyrics (sometimes emotive, sometimes quirky, sometimes nonsensical, but always catchy) that makes Grand National’s songs so extra special.

With the formula in place, Rupert and La became quite prolific in their home based music making, so that before long they had built up quite a repertoire of great songs. Then came the challenge of getting noticed, firstly by the industry, and then by the wider world, which isn’t so easy when you’re creating songs as musically involved as Grand National but with only two of you – Rupert and La could hardly do the gig circuit populated by the ubiquitous indie bands. They knew they needed to find a label to work with in order to get their emerging debut album out into the public domain.

Fortunately, once they had management in place, and the buzz on the band started to grow, the labels started to come to them. Though they still had the tricky task of picking the right one. “There was a lot of interest in our early tracks,” Rupert explains, “which was great, because it confirmed that it wasn’t just us who thought we were on to something. But it can be very frustrating when people tell you they are going to release your music, and then suddenly stop returning your phone calls! You quickly realise that you need a serious record label behind you to properly get your music out there”.

Things came together when the guys met Sunday Best man Rob da Bank. “They were simply the first to say ‘let’s go for it’” Rupert explains, “and after experiencing a whole load of procrastination from elsewhere in the industry that was just so refreshing. Robbie and the Sunday Best guys clearly loved the album, and would get properly behind it. So the deal was done”.

And so, over three years after that first session, Grand National’s ‘Kicking The National Habit’ was finally unleashed on an unsuspecting world in May 2004. Tasked, as music reviewers often are, to make comparisons between the Grand National sound and artists who had gone before most would refer to the likes of the Happy Mondays, and New Order, and, more often than not, The Police. But this was the thing, while Rupert and La had combined some of the better elements of eighties and nineties British pop music in their sound, they had done so in a way that sounds very contemporary. Possibly even timeless.

Working with Sunday Best in the UK, and other independents in other territories, and in particular Recall in both France and the US, the release of ‘Kicking The National Habit’ was staggered over a two year period, with the US release coming in March 2006. Slowly Grand National’s fan base grew around the planet – as the band was picked up by critics, DJs and record buyers alike as far a field as Brazil, Japan and America.

Of course once the album was out there, those of us that like to call ourselves ‘early adopters’ started to demand a Grand National live show. And while Rupert and La had shied away from transforming their fantastic multi-instrumental recorded sound into a live show previously, with more support behind them they decided now was the time to rise to that challenge. “There was a bit of ‘how the hell are we going to do this’ moment when we first started putting together the live show” La admits, “But like everything else, it came together organically. The album is so well orchestrated we’re not a band who can just jam to get into the mood, but the more we gigged the better it got”.

“I think the live show elevates the tracks off the album,” Rupert says. “That’s not to say the songs are different when played live, but its…” Rupert ponders for a second… “like the album, but with more spark”.

The other advantage of spreading the promotion of the debut album over a two year period was it gave the boys more time to work on album number two. “We’d already started writing the second album before the first one was released” Rupert says, “but with us promoting ‘Kicking The National Habit’ throug

Lyrics

Drink to Moving on

Written By: Rudd/Lyddon

Moved on to clear the air
Just to be alone
The perfect on the road
Settle down
Try not to clear it up
I’m ready in my time
I’m here I’m doing fine
Settle down … my friend

Step on the toes and let me down
Is (it’s) sending messages around
I’m not quite ready now
Loan me to bottle up
It’s over and it’s done
Let’s drink to moving on

Settle down … my friend
Step on the toes and let me down
Is (it’s) sending messages around
Step on the toes and let me down
Is (it’s) sending messages around
I’m not quite ready now.

Cherry Tree

Written By: Rudd/Lyddon


We used to meet on sundays,
Feet underneath the cherry tree,
Hidden by leaves and branches,
We used to kiss so secretly.

Baptise my fries and capsize into everything,
I stole your berries,
Something to do,
First guise, disguise, contrive, move into everyone,
Quite literally,
I want to move into you.

Disturb your words and return when you're top of the queue,
I need a repeat, i know you do to,
Renegotiate the rate now 'cos i'm levelling out,
I'm in a hurry,
Wanna move into you

Peanut Dreams

Written By: Rudd/Lyddon

Give me something,
Give me silence,
Give me jokes, live it out with my peanut dreams.

GIve me daylight,
Give me sundays,
Give me strokes with the folks and their peanut dreams

Discography

A Drink & A Quick Decision - Coming out sept 2007 on Recall
EP1 - Grand National limited edition debut 4-tracker (8/12/04)
Talk Amongst Yourselves - The 1st full single release (19/4/04)
Kicking The National Habit - The acclaimed debut album (24/5/04) release in France on Recall (01/2005)
Cherry Tree - 2nd single proper & an ode to one-night-stands! (2/8/04)
Drink To Moving On - The new single (1/11/04)
Playing in the distance - Out August 29 on limited edition 12" & 7" featuring The Glimmers' epic Glimmmix and an Eliot James edit of Playing In The Distance, Sasha's mix of Talk Amongst Yourselves and a fantastic new B-side. You gotta have it! (29/8/05)

Set List

Drink to moving on,
Peanuts dreams,
Cherry tree,
Daylights goes,
Litter bin,
Playing in the distance,
By the time I get home there won't much of a place for me,
Cut by the brakes,
New space to throw,

covers of The Smiths, New Order, The Police...