SCROOBIUS PIP sounds surprisingly upbeat as he contemplates the imminent demise of his collaboration with musical partner, Dan Le Sac.
After seven years, the Essex rapper and London producer are calling it quits. There is no bad blood or creative tension. They’re ending on a high. After three albums and a dozen tours, what else is there to strive for? “Our entire career has been a huge surprise to us,” says Scroobius (real name David Mead). “That’s why we’ve always gone as ‘Dan Le Sac versus Scroobius Pip’. We didn’t expect the project to have legs. It was only after a couple of tours that we stopped up and thought, ‘oh wow, I guess we’re a band now’.” Their calling card was the 2007 single ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’. A blistering spoken-word rant, illuminated by Le Sac’s expansive beats, the track was an overnight hit and the unofficial anthem of that summer’s festival season. Both musicians were utterly blind-sided by its success. Luckily, they’d already recorded an album, so there was no danger of buckling under pressure.
“It set us up very well. We wrote the first LP not knowing if anyone would hear it. From that moment, we’ve been able to write exactly what we wanted to. ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ was the first song we made together: it went top 40, got four, five million views on YouTube. Not many bands have that quick a turnaround.”
Looking back, their trajectory was “insane”, Scroobius says. “I recorded the vocals in my mum’s house. We were off touring America and Japan and I was still living at home. It happened so quickly.”
They understand fans may be upset by their decision to pack it in. And baffled, too: the duo’s most recent LP, Repent, Replenish, Repeat, was their most popular yet and they’ve been headlining the biggest venues of their career. They should be toasting their success, not pulling the tarpaulin over the project.
“Well, it isn’t as if we’ve deprived anyone of the opportunity to see us,” Scroobius says. “We’ve toured solidly for seven years now. Okay, we’ve done solo albums in between. We never took a break — it was straight on from one thing to the other.
“Right from the start, we toured everywhere. When we came to Ireland, we didn’t just play Dublin and Belfast. We went to Limerick, to Galway. It wasn’t as if we ignored these places and only started paying attention when we got big. We’ve performed all over.”
They’ve attracted influential fans. Billy Bragg handpicked Le Sac and Pip to headline the stage he was curating at the recent Glastonbury festival. This was by way of saying ‘thank you’, after the duo arranged for him to perform alongside them in London.
“We’d booked two nights at [storied mid-scale venue] Koko: we were genuinely surprised they both sold out. Actually, we were surprised the first one sold out. It wasn’t one of those ones where you announce the first gig, knowing you’ll do a second one.
“I’d name-check Billy in one of our songs, so I emailed him, asking did he fancy coming down and singing with us. I was shocked that he wrote back straight away saying ‘yes’. After the gig, on the way out, he asked did we want to play Glastonbury? What a guy: he plays our show. Then, just as he’s out the door, invites us to headline his stage.”
-Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip play their last Irish show at Indiependence over the August bank holiday weekend
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