Exclusive: Clean Bandit on finding success after Neil Milan’s departure, and working with Sean Paul

Exclusive: Clean Bandit on finding success after Neil Milan’s departure, and working with Sean Paul

With Neil Milan’s departure, they may be one member down, but British pop group Clean Bandit are certainly not out. Quite the opposite, in fact, drummer Luke Patterson tells Young Post in an exclusive interview

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Clean Bandit have soared to the top of the UK charts.
Photo: Warner HK

Clean Bandit are a band at the crossroads. The last few months have seen the departure of violinist and founding member Neil Milan, while new songs Tears and Rockabye have sent the British pop group whooshing up the charts again. Drummer and youngest member Luke Patterson chatted exclusively to Young Post about this roller-coaster year, and what the future holds for him, his bassist and keyboard-playing brother Jack, and cellist/singer Grace Chatto.


How’s your week been?

We found out we were number one in the UK charts, so that’s really cool. We’re just getting ready to perform a festival.

What was your favourite memory of Clockenflap last year?

I loved how all the buildings lit up at night, it was the most spectacular skyline. We also didn’t expect to have such a lovely crowd – it really felt like we had a good following of people who’d come out especially to see us.

Congratulations on Rockabye going to number one! You were in Miami when you heard the news. Did you do anything special to celebrate?

We were in Miami playing the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, which is run by a company that makes burritos, so we had free burritos all night! So that was our celebration: many, many burritos.

We have this new band involved – new players onstage. We’ve been playing with Ssegawa (Kiwanuka, aka Love Ssega), who was the first musician that we’d ever worked with. He came out to the States and played with us during that run. He sang a few songs, which went down really well.


Clean Bandit’s violinist Neil Milan announces he’s quitting the band


How did the US dates go?

It was great. The first show we did in Miami, some of our gear stopped working midway through the set. That was a bit of a catastrophe, but we pulled it back. After that we went to New York and Los Angeles. Both of those shows got a really good response.

How did you end up working with Sean Paul on Rockabye?

We’d always wanted to work with Sean. Jack and I went into the studio with him and started working on a track that would become one of his tunes. We played him Rockabye and he was really into it. So we made the space for him, and he wrote a verse on the spot, then and there. I was probably about 10 when he got really big, so I don’t have much memory [of him at that time]. But Jack and Grace loved him – they were about 20 at the time.

When did you start working with Anne-Marie [Rockabye singer]?

Jack originally wrote the song with Ina Wroldsen. We share a label with Anne-Marie, so we knew her from having played with Rudimental. She used to be the live lead singer for them. Having seen one of their shows, we thought it’d be cool to try out her voice. We’d heard her song Alarm as well, which is a really nice song.

Have you ever fancied a go at singing?

I have! But I would never reveal it to anyone. It would be just my own thing to have – like singing in the shower. I don’t think the world is quite ready for me yet. I’ll work on it! Maybe I could be the lead singer? That’d solve all our problems.


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Is there talk of replacing Neil?

No, I don’t think we’ll try to get a fourth member again. As a character, Neil’s a one-off. In New York and LA, we already started working with some new violinists. We’ve always used different violinists for recording, so that’s not an issue. There’s always been an idea to expand into a string quartet onstage, so if anything, there’ll be more string players. I think Grace wants a full quartet, so we might get an extra violinist, and maybe a viola player as well for the shows.

Has his departure affected any future recording plans?

Not so much recording, most of the songs from the second album are finished now anyway. It’s pretty much all there, there’s just a few little tweaks to be done. It’s generally been quite emotional for all of us – it’s taken its toll in that way, more than anything else. But I think we’ve managed to get through it because we’ve had to: we’ve been really busy, so we’ve just had to keep going and releasing songs. It’s a sad time, but also a good time for us too.

If you had an unlimited budget to shoot a music video, what would it look like?

I’d hire the cast from the old Star Wars films. It would have to be epic, something on a massive scale. I’d go to the desert and the sea – all the classic landscapes. All of my favourite actors would sing at least one lyric each. That’d be good.

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
These bandits clean up good

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