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Escape Velocity

Abandon Hope: Legss Interviewed
Laviea Thomas , June 12th, 2023 09:26

Legss speak to Laviea Thomas about how their new EP Fester represents a major turning point in a career marked by struggle and frustration, and the importance of embracing your limitations

Photos courtesy of The Reids

Legss’ music is an exercise in experimental world building, through melodic electronica and grunge, enhanced by their interest in contemporary fiction and minimalistic visuals. Consisting of frontman Ned Green, lead guitarist Max Oliver, bassist Jake Martin and Louis Grace, the group were self-releasing until last month when they reached a new milestone in their career and signed with The state51 Conspiracy – for the band, that feels like something of a miracle. Having just released their third EP Fester, they are finally making inroads into the ‘industry’ proper.

Walking off stage the same way they walked on – overwhelmed by gratitude – Legss put on an unforgettable show at The Lexington in London last month. “I ran out of moves quite early on. I need some new ones,” Green recalls. “I think it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on stage,” Martin adds. Playing to a sold-out crowd, the show was a beautiful arrangement of melodic ballads, melancholic lyrics and climactic hooks. “I was feeling nervous, which is quite rare these days,” says Grace. I knew that a lot of our friends would be there too and knowing that some people had come, just to see us, was a lot.”

It was a night of firsts, says Green. “Regardless of the fact that it was a headline, it’s a show we haven’t played very often, as it was a really long set – we were able to think about it in a different way.” It’s not been an easy ride up to this point. Having spent the entirety of 2022 not releasing, and coming to terms with the realities of life outside of university, their brand new EP takes a deep dive into some of the realisations the group have come to terms with over that time. It’s a record that’s reflective of new beginnings, resilience, and the mundanity of everyday life. “It has been a bit rocky for us. It’s hard to try and gain momentum when you don’t have the money, the time or resources to be able to put anything out,” Green says. On the other hand, he points out, “part of that was also about taking a step back to do this EP, which I think is good.”

The title track in particular is an earnest smack in the face from the jarring complexities and alienation of capitalism, and the desperate search for a way to override the odds. “We're in the transition of post-university adolescence into adulthood and needing to survive in London. I think ‘Fester’ is embroiled in that,” says Green. ‘Whilst ‘The Landlord’ is slightly more direct, especially lyrically.”

Coated in emotionally-penned lyrics, the EP displays a vulnerable side to Legss that hasn’t been present in their discography thus far. Dark and pensive, ‘The Landlord’ “encapsulates the EP and the new direction quite well; as the title track, ‘Fester’, implies, there’s a degrading and capitulating,” Green says. “I think there were elements of that that we felt we were encumbered with prior to this release. ‘Fester’ essentially is us working out what we wanted to do next.”

Oliver adds, “In a way ‘Fester’ dictated the EP, it was the first thing that we came up with. It opened up a whole new avenue for us where we could play at a slower pace, play something more delicate, gentle and in ways more open.” Committed to channelling some of their more unexplored emotions, Legss are no longer afraid to test the waters of themes they’d usually second guess.

“It's quite a relieving thing to be able to express, because I think before we've written from an angsty perspective,” says Grace. “We do really want to be more dynamic. Obviously, the angstiness is quite integral to the Legss sound, but with that song, especially sonically, it gives a lay of the land so nicely.”

Keen to embrace a cohesive visual aesthetic too, on the video for ‘Fester’, working with South London filmmakers The Reids, the group expand the gloominess of the track into something striking and lucid, a succession of images both everyday and deeply dramatic. “We were talking about this the other day, and I think, looking at the Legss sound, from the very start to now, the one thing that's been consistent is the harsh dynamics,” says Ned. “Osmosis led to the creation of the music video. We had a few ideas, but in terms of what we wanted to shoot, it was quite natural and organic.”

“We spent a long time gathering visual references for our EP’s artwork. Because that's such a big part of Legss – world building, the visuals of it, and how that feeds into the whole story we’re telling,” Martin adds. While its predecessors were put together on the basis of what they’d happened to have written in the studio at the time, on Fester the band went deeper, fleshing out tracks in detail so they can each tie into the same themes and emotions.

Having spent the last year healing, growing and evolving their sound, Fester is representative of how time can really be your best friend. “I think it’s all about capturing something that’s completely organic and unprocessed and then combining that with musically how we want to express ourselves.” Grace says. “The best thing to do is to work out what you want to do, and give yourself the necessary time to develop,” Oliver adds.

“We did have an idea to have all three EPs mixed together and released as one big project of work,” says Green. “We’re seeing this as the ‘London trilogy’, and maybe after this we’ll try not to write so much about London. As well, it’s coming to terms with the fact that you don't have to leave some big legacy, and think that's one of the important touchstones of the lyrics. That is definitely a product of privilege, and a product of a lot of Western countries as well – growing up in an artistic sphere you feel you need to make your mark and that you need to do something impressive and new. There’s a slow realisation that, actually, it's not that bad if you aren’t the next big thing, we are doing this for a different reason. Which is odd, because it was after five years total that a label got interested. After being desperate and giving up hope, it's odd how those things can turn out sometimes.”

Legss are finding comfort in discovering new ways to keep deepening their sound. “I think we’d love to do pop music too, but I don’t think we’ve quite achieved it yet,” says Oliver. “We’re a boy band! We all absolutely love pop music because it’s such a broad term, but we’re not going be writing Carly Rae Jepsen bangers.” Grace adds: “Having limitations within your artistic practice is probably the most important tool you can have. Because that’s what makes you unique.”

The band enlisted co-producer Balázs Altsach to perfectly capture the themes and storyline of their new record. “We've definitely got a working relationship there for the foreseeable now,” says Grace. “It’s so important to us, because we want people who are invested and will have longevity with the project.” Adds Oliver, “He made us take time with things and really calculate everything. He’s good at seeing the possibilities within what you've written and opening up doors. He pushes you in the right direction, which leads you to results that you wouldn't have got to previously, if you're just working by yourself.”

With the EP now out, as they move forwards Legss are continuing to concentrate on ways to produce the best music for themselves, rather than striking up groundbreaking conversations on how they can change the ‘post punk’ scene. No profound quotes, no obnoxious mandates. Legss are exactly what they say they are; their connection with their musical identity is a rare one.

Legss new EP Fester is out digitally now, and on vinyl on 16 June, via The state51 Conspiracy