London Grammar had the rare luck of being picked up by the nation’s biggest music radio station before they had even played a show.

The three-piece have still only played a handful of gigs – despite having most of the debut album ready to go and being playlisted on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music.

Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, Rob Da Bank and Gilles Peterson all demoed the track Hey Now from their debut EP Metal & Dust.

The track has also had more than 370,000 plays on Soundcloud since it was uploaded in December.

Silky-voiced singer Hannah Reid says it’s nerve-wracking doing it backwards.

“From being played on the radio to now having to play all the songs live and having to figure that out – that was a long, panicked process.

“We’ve got a skewed perspective but luckily the gigs have gone well.”

Reid met bandmates Dot Major and Dan Rothman in Nottingham where they all went to university.

They played a couple of shows under a different name and sparked the interest of a few A&R men.

After an invite to London to play a couple of shows, the trio signed to Ministry Of Sound. The superclub’s offshoot label is now backing the band’s releases, though the name that brands their sleeves is London Grammar’s own imprint, Metal & Dust.

When they signed two years ago, the group pulled back from the industry, rebranded as London Grammar and holed themselves up writing material with the help of producers Tim Bran and Roy Kerr.

“We have written everything ourselves,” explains Reid. “I write the lyrics and the top lines. But the songs initiate from all three of us. Dot will write a piano part or a music score. Dan will add some guitars.”

An early taster of the record, which is going to be called If You Wait, is Wasting My Young Years. The album is due for release on June 16.

“Wasting My Young Years is about acute regret from a particular relationship. It’s how I was feeling at the time otherwise I wouldn’t have written the song. It is 100% me.”

The group’s sound has already been compared to The xx, Zero 7, Tracey Thorn and Massive Attack. There are certainly strands of trip-hop and chill-out alongside Reid’s chocolately vocals.

But Reid admits she prefers to listen to Michael Jackson and Motown. Dot grew up listening to prog rock and classical music. Dan likes The Smiths and adores Vampire Weekend.

Shared influences for the whole band are soundtracks by Thomas Newman and Hans Zimmer.

Lyrically, Reid cites PJ Harvey and The National (“my favourite band in the world”) as key influences.

“I think PJ Harvey’s lyrics are amazing, Michael Jackson too, and The National – their lyrics don’t often make musical sense but I love them.

“I write about human conditions really. As clichéd as it sounds, I talk about what has affected me. Even though a lot of the lyrics are about relationships in a sense, they are more than that: they are the psychology of the human mind and how it works.”

Few bands are given such a long time to write and record a new album. London Grammar had 18 months to concentrate on the record, without having to worry about work.

All the hiding away is half the reason Reid opened her heart on the record.

“Being holed up writing the album, you forget people are going to hear it. Now I am like, s***, people are going to know everything.

“I didn’t think about it at the time but I kind of think you can’t hide. If you are a lyricist you make yourself open. Any fears soon fade away when you are at a gig with people singing them back to you.”

London Grammar were in Brighton only last month to support Tom Odell at a celebratory homecoming show at The Haunt, where his family were in the crowd. Once again the trio will play before Odell takes to the stage – this time at St Bart’s Church as part of The Great Escape.

Few people will have recognised the band at the shows, though. Only one photo is currently in circulation, which has led to some in the press saying the group are being purposefully secretive and aloof.

“There was an amazing review of our live show in London but the writer did say at the end that, ‘their PR company have kept them covered up and they are middle-class’.

“Really, it hasn’t been that thought through. We put one photo up online and the reaction was unexpected. We didn’t have time to go and do a million photos.”

And as for being middle-class?

“It’s the way I speak. I do sound quite posh. We don’t mind being called a middle class band but it is not something we should be made to feel reflects on our music.”

  • London Grammar play St Bartholomew’s Church, Ann Street, Brighton, on Thursday, May 16, as part of the Great Escape festival. Starts 9.15pm, a limited number of weekend tickets including entry to either the Everything Everything or Billy Bragg Dome show are available for £56.50 from