There's something about catching a band at a festival, especially when you don't know them prior to seeing them," says Marcus Pepperell, one half of London's alt-pop duo Thumpers.
He should know, given how many festival gigs his band has graced: MIDI Festival, Camden Crawl, Blissfields, South by Southwest, and more. When we called Pepperell, Thumpers had just returned from playing Secret Garden Party, which the band described as a "sort of free love, hippie-style kind of festival, which is unusual for us. We were playing a stage standing on broken branches. It was a highlight because it's the first festival this season that we've actually been able to stay over at and experience a lot of good bands."
With loud, layered drums accompanied by lush, softer vocals (something Vice described as sounding like "pure joy") akin to Tame Impala or MGMT, Thumpers is the kind of summer music perfect for giant outdoor concerts. Plus, there are plenty of sing-alongs, and that's something Pepperell says they love to court.
John Hamson Jr. (drums, vocals, bass) and Pepperell (vocals, guitar, keys) have been friends since they were 11, playing in bands together ever since. Their debut album, Galore, tends to deal with first and formative experiences -- in other words, growing up.
"We were taking really intense trips back to our hometown to record. . . Being back in the environment we grew up in was a real inspiration," Pepperell says. "[But] 'Together Now' is more about leaving your day job trappings behind and facing your passion for things outside of work life. That song is immediately relevant to our lives right now."
The album's lead single, "Unkinder (A Tougher Love)," pinpoints being forced to leave behind the narcissistic mindset that you are the center of the universe. Pepperell says it's against the idea that your little bubble will go on to make up the most important part of the world.
"You have to be faced with the reality that it will not be the case. You sort of discover that generally when you leave home," Pepperell says. "Or in my case, anyway. That was tough love. You have to learn to appreciate what you've learned there."
Pepperell's sisters provided additional vocals on "Unkinder," which emphasizes the band's love for collaboration. Thumpers also employed their longtime friends, indie-pop duo Summer Camp, for the track "Now We Are Sixteen."
"Their vibe seemed like the perfect kind of fit for the nostalgia for it. They're a real life couple," Pepperell says. "A lot of collaborations happen by circumstance or quite arbitrarily, but that was something where we really like their voices, we love the atmosphere to their relationship, and we happened to know them in person."
Galore was released early this year on Sub Pop, a label Thumpers liked because of the members' affinity for Nirvana. Pepperell says they couldn't believe when the reputable record company contacted them.
While the band won't be playing a festival here, it looks forward to the intimacy the Rhythm Room offers, saying it prefers being able to control the atmosphere a lot more.
"We're pretty aware of what sort of position we hold at the U.S. at the moment, having only played really six cities in the U.S. so far. There's something intense about small shows," Pepperell says. "The main thing for us is being able to play for a longer amount of time. . . Maybe from the singles you get the slightness of this representation of the band and it's just great to get an extra chance to show what else we can do."
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