Zulu Winter


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Jamie Harley
11 Friday 11th May 2012
2012 is already proving to be another one of those years for new music where a sudden explosion of buzz bands from the year before find their feet. In some Hunger Games-style fight to the death, this is where we see who's likely to survive recognition and relevance beyond the media clamour to push them atop a horde of 'Ones To Watch!' lists (that mostly only fellow journalists read).
Zulu Winter look set to be one of the surviving acts. Comprised of five Oxfordshire guys, Will Daunt on vocals and guitar, Iain Lock on bass, Dom Millard on keys, Henry Walton on guitar and Guy Henderson on drums, the London-based group are have been unleashing their brand of atmosperic, danceable and textured indie on audience's ears for almost two years. Their debut LP Language is out today though, so we caught up with (a hobbling) Iain to hear about Sex Pistols cover bands, going on dates with record labels and keeping it in the family.
So Iain, we've know you've been playing as Zulu Winter since 2010 but have heard you made music in various bands together before. Is that true?
Yeah, there is some truth in that [he laughs]! We've all been friends for numerous years, playing in different incarnations of projects since school, really. We've been Zulu Winter for about two years, getting that live experience which is so important when doing what we do. I mean, when we were young Henry and Dom were in a Sex Pistols cover band for a few years, I played bass for another band but we decided to make the music we wanted to make as Zulu Winter a couple of years ago.
We know you got picked up for some Double Denim single releases last year. Why the choice to go with them?
Double Denim are great guys and have really supportive from the get-go. One of their bands, Outfit I think, asked if anyone wanted to help them pack some vinyl and Henry replied. Henry being Henry he went down, chatted to the guys and gave them a few of our songs - one thing lead to another, as they say!
L-R: Iain, Will, Dom, Guy and Henry
Now you're on a full deal with Play It Again Sam Records though.
Yeah, Double Denim was just a single deal. We got on with [PIAS] really well: they liked the music, we thought they were the right fit for us and we're happy.
Were you pitched by other labels?
There were a few others that came into it. You have these meetings with different people and you have to figure out who's right for you, really. I'm with Dom now and he says it's like going on dates [he giggles]. So we went on a date with [PIAS] and they footed the bill, pulled our chairs out and it was great!
You've had a really quick trajectory from playing a couple of gigs with Double Denim to an explosion of coverage in national and international press. Does it feel like everything's happening all at once, or like it's just starting?
It feels quick but we've been playing these songs together for two years, so for us the process is not slow exactly but at a reasonable pace. I suppose what you're talking about is hype and you have to just ignore that. You've got to just get on with it, ignore what everyone's saying about you and focus on writing, doing what you enjoy. Hopefully we'll be able to get the music out there to lots of people and they'll get the same satisfaction out of it that we do. 
Language sounds great, very cohesive and bold. What was your process when crafting the album?
For us, songs tend to come from two directions. They can either come from one of us bringing a riff, melody, some lyrics or guitar part and so on and we all go rehearse and work through it. Or quite a lot of the songs came straight out of jams: 'Let's Move Back To Front' came from one, and was the first song we wrote off Language. It was the template for the rest of the songs, provided a direction and mood that we all wanted to take forward on the rest of the album.
Being on tour you don't have the space to go and rehearse in every day so the stuff we're writing now feels quite different. We're doing things on laptops on the road, which is fantastic, but will give a new angle to the writing. Whether better or worse we'll find out [he laughs]!
On a final note, let's talk about the new video (above). We just interviewed its director Alex Turvey ourselves, and I'm curious about the dark, broody Hitchcock-like concept you all went with.
The brief came from us: Henry and Dom were really keen on doing a Hitchcock-esque dream sequence thing with hyperreal slow motion. We left it very open-ended, then the label gave it out to various video guys and we decided on Alex's idea. He's fantastic and we're really pleased with the end result. The next one's probably going to be 'Key To My Heart' and we're already looking forward to that too. Plus, Henry's sister is actually the female role in it and it was great having that element of family thrown in there.
Zulu Winter headline the Boston Arms this Thursday May 17th and release their album Language and single 'Silver Tongue' today. To find out more about the band, head to their website

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