Klaxons - Biography
Aside from keeping the glow stick industry alive and well in the UK, Klaxons are responsible for some of Britain’s most forward-thinking pop music, as evidenced by their 2007 Mercury Prize win. The kinetic band began as a trio with far-reaching (but far from unusual) goals; they wanted to play pop music and they wanted to be popular. Their beginnings trace back to the members’ early twenties, when Simon Taylor-Davis was taught to play the guitar by his friend James Righton (keyboards, vocals). Additionally, Taylor-Davis shared housing with the girlfriend of Jamie Reynolds (vocals, bass). Reynolds was an avid record collector and had been collecting unemployment at the time. Soon enough, these three musicians formed a band called Klaxons (Not Centaurs). Once they shortened their name to just Klaxons and found their musical focus, there was simply no stopping the tireless young band. One can only assume that Reynolds has since stopped collecting unemployment.
The dance-informed mania of Klaxons officially materialized in the New Cross area of London. This cross-pollination of pop and 80’s dance elements resulted in the tag “new rave,” a movement that the Klaxons were at the forefront of in part because they coined the term. The band’s early days were spent in the hip clubs of London where many patrons believed the band was a comedy troupe. However, the group soon developed a serious following just as rave fever had begun to swallow up London’s youth. The Klaxons, along with other bands such as CSS and New Young Pony Club, dominated the club scene.
On March 29, 2006, the band released its first single, Gravity’s Rainbow (2006 Angular), on Angular Records. Despite a pressing limited to 500 copies, the single was strong enough to be played on Radio 1 after host Steve Lamacq got his hands on a copy. Lamacq invited the group to play their song in a live session for Maida Vale Studios. That June, the band put out a second single, Atlantis to Interzone (2006 Merok), through Merok Records. More radio exposure followed, with DJs Zane Lowe and Jo Whiley playing the track on their shows. Both DJs mispronounced the title of the song, calling it either “Atlantic to Interscope” or “Atlantis to Interscope.”
By now, Klaxons had become bona fide darlings of NME, finding themselves in the headlines often. Their popularity continued to race along with the release of a compilation of singles called Xan Valleys (2006 Modular). After playing the Reading and Leeds festivals, the group inked a deal with Polydor Records. Word got out that the band had fielded numerous offers from various labels until Polydor shelled out £500,000 to sign them. The band denied the figure, stating that they signed for much less so that Polydor would allow them to start their own label, Rinse Records.
Holed up in Hastings, the band recorded their debut album with producer (and Simian Mobile Disco member) James Ford. Not only did Ford produce the record, he played all of the drum tracks but one (“Atlantis to Interzone” features drummer Steffan Halperin). During the recording sessions, the group saw the US release of Xan Valleys. Through September and October of 2006, they headlined the Shockwaves Presents Club NME Tour. Also in October, they released the brand new single “Magick” (2006 Polydor). The next month, they postponed their first jaunt to the United States, opting to buckle down and complete their album. The final product, Myths of the Near Future (2007 Geffen/Polydor/Modular), was released in the UK on January 29, 2007. Remarkably, the LP debuted on the UK charts at number two, beat out only by Norah Jones’ Not Too Late.
In February of 2007, the group welcomed drummer Steffan Halperin as an official member before headlining the Shockwaves NME Awards Indie Rave Tour. On March 27, 2007, Myths of the Near Future saw its US release through Rinse/DGC. Although it failed to break the Billboard 200, the group had a successful tour of the country the following month, which included a stop at the Coachella festival. They returned to the UK for yet another tour that proved to be, in the band’s opinion, their best string of shows up to that point. By July, they were in the States once again for a six-stop tour that began right after the band played Scotland’s T in the Park festival. To the band’s delight, the first stop of their US tour at the Los Angeles El Rey Theatre was a sold-out show. In late July, the group played a festival in France that found singer and bassist Reynolds jumping from the stage and breaking his ankle. The injury resulted in a canceled Australian tour. Within days, however, Klaxons were back on the stage with The Violets’ Joe Daniel filling in for Reynolds on bass. Reynolds fulfilled his singing duties from a wheelchair.
In September, the new ravers beat out the Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, and Bat For Lashes for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize. The victory helped their album to climb back into Britain’s top 40 after having fallen out of the Top 60. After that, it was back to the States for another short tour. That October, the band released a double-LP complete with 27 tracks mixed by Reynolds called A Bugged Out Mix (2007 New State).
The next year, Klaxons were nominated for two Brit Awards — one for British Live Act and the other for British Breakthrough. While they did not take home either award, the band did make headlines by performing with R&B sensation Rihanna on a version of her hit single, “Umbrella.” In late February, the group was still reeling from a long 2007 and admitted to being behind schedule in recording a follow-up LP. Toward the end of a relatively quiet 2008, Klaxons began diligently recording with producer James Ford in an attempt to finish the record before Christmas. It was revealed in March of 2009 that Universal sent the trio back into the studio to re-record their allegedly difficult new material. In 2010 the band released Surfing The Void.