"[The sceptics] can think whatever they want, I'm happy knowing that some of my dance-producer heroes like the music."
When we catch up with the younger Disclosure brother, Howard Lawrence, he's been back home in London for about a week. "I've had some time to spend with my dog, which is good," he admits. Lawrence lives with his "two best mates" who look after his "naughty" beagle puppy while he's on tour.
He turned 21 in May of this year, so how did Lawrence mark the occasion? "Um, where was I? I think I was in Ibiza," he contemplates. "I mean, I'm pretty sure we were working but we definitely had some fun, too." Last time Disclosure played in Ibiza they had a residency at Space and Lawrence admits he prefers to go to the clubs "where it's how everything used to be and people are there to dance rather than to take selfies". When asked whether it's still possible to buy icy poles from roving vendors on Space's dancefloor, Lawrence opines, "That is genius! I've not seen that, but that's a brilliant idea." What if Disclosure handed out icy poles from the stage? "Maybe we could get some sort of ice-pop cannon," he dreams.
"In sound check we did get our dad and godfather to do a guitar solo on the stage."
The brothers played Madison Square Garden last month and Lawrence recalls, "It was an amazing show. I couldn't believe we were able to play there. You know, it's like — that's the one show we've always wanted to do out of everything in the world." Although the sibling pair has previously graced the Madison Square Garden stage for one song ("We made a guest appearance for Sam Smith's show, where we came out and performed Latch"), this was the first full Disclosure show at this multi-purpose indoor arena. Lawrence recalls, "We brought our whole family out — our mum and dad were there watching and, yeah! It was really special." Their mum's a singer and, when asked whether they were tempted to bring her out for a sing during their set, Lawrence ponders, "Um, I think... [Pauses] No, hahaha. But, I mean, in sound check we did get our dad and godfather to do a guitar solo on the stage." Although Lawrence filmed the action, he despairs, "They've asked me not to put it online though, which I'm quite upset about."
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This scribe's last Disclosure interview was with the elder Lawrence brother, Guy, and he mentioned during the chat that Sting told Howard he was a good bass player. And Guy said that he hadn't heard the end of it since. We're pretty sure Howard would like to tell the story so hand him the conch. "Oh, that was an excellent day," he enthuses. Absolutely! It doesn't get much better than that. "Well, it does actually," he begs to differ, "the story does get better. We were playing a big show in New York — we were doing Terminal 5 where we had three, big, sold-out shows, which was amazing — and we brought out Mary J Blige to do our song together [F For You] and a guest appearance kinda thing, which was really cool. But we were backstage with Mary kind of hanging out and then, all of a sudden, DJ Premier turned up and was like, 'Hey, guys, nice to meet you.' And so that for me was one of the best things ever 'cause he's definitely one of our favourite hip hop producers ever — so that was a big deal. So we were there with Mary and DJ Premier, kind of a bit starstruck, and then Sting walks in and DJ Premier is like, 'Holy fuck, it's Sting!'
"So we're starstruck by [DJ Premier], he's starstruck by Sting and so he goes up to Sting and he's like, '[does his best DJ Premier impression] Dude, you can play the shit out of a bass!' and Sting just sits there, like, really, really cool and just goes, 'Yes, yes I can,' which was really funny. Um, so then I managed to get a photo with all three of them, which I was really happy with. And then we played the show and Sting told me I was a good bass player! So it made my life complete; I was happy." Lawrence says he still reminds Guy about Sting's high praise "quite frequently". "If I make a bum note in the show, I'll just be like, 'It wasn't a bum note. Sting said I was a good bass player, it must've been the right note,'" he chuckles.
"Then Sting walks in and DJ Premier is like, 'Holy fuck, it's Sting!'"
Since they're related, do the Disclosure brothers give one another an extra-hard time in the event of a stuff-up? "Oh, yeah, we do that a lot, yeah, yeah, yeah," Lawrence confirms. "We do that thing where, like, if I make even the slightest mistake, he'll just turn his head really slowly and look at me. And no one else would notice, but I know," he laughs. "It is good, though," Lawrence acknowledges, saying this added pressure they put on each other keeps them "trying hard" so they "don't get lazy".
Given Sam Smith's current global superstar status, it's hard to imagine "no one knew who he was until he worked with [Disclosure]". They sure seem to have a knack for sourcing vocalists on the rise and Lawrence reveals of the pair's selection process: "We pick them if they've got a great voice and if they can write good songs 'cause, you know, we'll never work with people who are just good singers; they have to be good at songwriting as well, because we wanna get into the room and write a song with them. We never just write the song and send it to them or vice versa, we'll always write collaboratively with them in the room around the piano. So they've gotta be able to do both things. I guess if you've got both of those things you're quite likely to be successful at some point." AIthough Lawrence admits they've "been pretty lucky" and "haven't had too many bad sessions", he confesses, "I've walked out of a session before, which was not very nice." So did he send a text from outside explaining he was done? "Nah, not even that, I just left," he laughs. "Sometimes you're better to just walk away, I think."
Disclosure have come up against "a very small minority" of haters. "We used to get quite a lot of sceptics being like, 'Why are you guys making this music? You weren't there when house music was a thing in the '80s and '90s — you weren't there, like, why? You have no business in house music, why are you doing it?' And, for one: I mean, all the guys that made all those original tunes like our music, you know? [Laughs] They've come to us and told us how much they like the tunes, which means more to us than anything that anyone could say... [The sceptics] can think whatever they want, I'm happy knowing that some of my dance-producer heroes like the music."
When told we'll be reaching up for those flying icy poles during their forthcoming Australian tour, Lawrence chuckles, "Yeah, don't hold your breath about that. I'll ask the question. I don't know how my tour manager's gonna react to that."