When Years & Years dropped their 2014 single 'Real' in February, we immediately tore up our tip list for the year and went back to the drawing board. This soulful, laidback club tune was a true head-turner, and led to the UK music industry falling over their cheque books to sign up this inventive and impressive London trio.
The band (Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen) were previously signed to French label Kitsune, known internationally for working with only the coolest bands and artists on the planet. Years & Years more than fit the bill.
"Since 'Real' was written, the music has sort of definitely taken that direction. Beatsy. Bassy. Soulful," says frontman Olly Alexander, as he discusses work on new material for their debut album. Compared to Disclosure since 'Real' hit the mainstream, the band previously had a more live, band-led sound (as evident on previous releases such as 'Traps' and 'I Wish I Knew').
Listen to Years & Years' Real EP below
But this isn't his first brush with fame. Alexander is also a successful actor - having previously starred in TV drama Skins as well as movie roles in the likes of Gulliver's Travels, Bright Star and Great Expectations. He admits now, however, that acting is well and truly on the back-burner as the band travel the globe, picking up fans worldwide with their effortless live shows.
"I'm not going to do any acting work for a while, but I do have some stuff that is coming out so I will have to do some promotion for that," he adds. "I just did acting when I was young. I didn't think being a musician was actually a job, that it would ever happen. I didn't think it was ever something I thought I could do as my day-job. I decided I wanted to do this more."
Years & Years played a gig in an abandoned tube station this week for #LumiaLive
Fresh from a fleeting visit to Tokyo for a Kitsune live show (where they were showered with tea, 'weird fish crisps' and USB sticks shaped like prawn tempura as gifts from fans), the rising stars aren't likely to cause any chaos on tour, admitting that their antics on the road are nothing for their families to worry about.
"I read Harry Styles is a mummy's boy, isn't he," says Alexander. "He calls her every day. I did speak to my mum the other day, actually, for the first time in weeks. She said 'you've been on tour'. I said 'yeah'. She said 'how was it'? I said 'good'. That was it."
"We like to go to the hotel bedrooms by 9pm," says bass-player Mikey Goldsworthy.
"We are always tired. It's horrible," adds synth-player Emre Turkmen, dryly.
Listen to an extract of Years & Years' new single 'Take Shelter' below
And there is no rest in sight, as the band gear up for a summer of festival performances (they name their Secret Garden Party performance as an upcoming highlight) and perhaps more importantly, recording their debut album. Having recently signed to Polydor, the band admit things have stepped up a gear - in more ways than one, with the band already reaping the benefits of signing with a major label in more ways than one.
"We don't have to drive the van any more," Turkmen jokes, after the band reveal that their choice of singing to Polydor was a simple matter of the people they would be working with. "It's the knowledge that is more important that the other stuff, which is why we chose the label and why we liked the A&R people. They know a lot about the industry."
"It's supportive," adds frontman Olly Alexander. "You don't feel like you are flailing about blindly trying to do shit yourself."
Years & Years' Real EP is out now. New single 'Take Shelter' is pencilled in for release in August 2014 and the debut album set for early 2015.