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Platinum hair, call and response vocals and mosaics aren’t always enough to make a classic UK. post-punk revival successful. You have to get a gnarly D.I.Y. haircut first. “Our tour manager’s girlfriend is going to be cutting my hair in the van after the interview,” says Antonia Sellbach, leading lady of Love of Diagrams.
The Melbourne trio, comprised of Sellbach (bass/vocals) Luke Horton (guitar/vocals) and Monika Fikerle (drums), was in Los Angeles for the first of their ten shows in America before a run of gigs in Europe and a return to the States with an opening slot for Ted Leo on his spring tour.
“We got offered the tour,” Horton said. “I think someone gave Ted a copy of our record and he really liked it and asked us to do it. Apparently it was really stiff competition, something like a hundred bands submitted for it.”
The band also garnered themselves buzz at a SXSW showcase last year, where according to Sellbach, the label took notice, making Love of Diagrams one of the first bands signed to debut from Matador Records in 2007.
“We played an unofficial little showcase at this Mexican tavern,” she says. “It was small but a lot of Matador people were there and we were hip to something that was going on at that stage. Then we went to New York and the head guy Chris Lombardi saw us and asked if we wanted to come to the office the next day. So we go down and everyone in the office already seems to know who we are, so it was kind of surprising.”
Horton adds, “He brought Steve Malkmus along too! That was pretty funny. He said to me ‘Oh, so you’re going to put your records on Matador now?’ And I was like ‘Whoa, nothing has been discussed but we’d totally love that.’ But that was the first thing we had really heard about it.”
Having started out as a jam band, it’s almost amusing to note the relative ease with which Love of Diagrams has gotten their name out there.
“Initially we just liked hanging out and playing music,” Sellbach says. “We never thought about playing venues or anything, it was all about playing music in the jam room. But as soon as we started playing live the biggest thing that changed the music was our nerves. We were always a bit nervous so all our songs sped up and became more dynamic.”
Said nerves are apparent in the guitar-driven tension of their 4-song self-titled EP released by Matador earlier this year. From the high energy of “Pace or the Patience,” to their The O.C.-featured single “No Way Out” to their rendition of Pylon’s “Cool,” the material gives the appropriate jerk to anticipate the potential energy of their forthcoming LP, Mosaic. But Horton confesses the band didn’t always have that tight, terse sound. “When we first started we were instrumental as well but we had a surf feel that was very guitar orientated with a lot of melodic bass lines so people thought we were a 60s surf band,” he says.
“We were the most different band in Melbourne because it was all about the post-rock stuff…more instrumental virtuoso guitar players. Tortoise was really big. And we played really straightforward loud fast music that was quite different. Post-rock was the thing being branded about 5 years ago.”
And even before the band has begun to explode in the States, LOD refuse to be grouped into a larger collective.
“Post-punk is such a catch phrase at the moment, but what does that mean? Everything since 1979?” Horton says.
Sellbach adds, “There’s a lot of 90s in our music too and even a bit of 60s. If 3 years ago post-punk was a good thing and 3 years later it becomes not a good thing, it’s not something I want to be a part of. If you like music, it tends to be for the long haul.”
Mosaic may just be their claim to the rule, as well as their American debut. LOD spent time working with producer Bob Weston in Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio for the album.
“We had never recorded in a studio like that before,” Sellbach says. “It was recorded during a snowstorm so we were pretty much holed up in the studio and we couldn’t leave the place so we got a lot of work done.”
From their current standpoint, Love of Diagrams is anything but snowed in.
Check out Mosaic in stores on April 10 on Matador Records.
For more info and tour dates, visit Love of Diagrams on MySpace.