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Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Filthy Dukes' all star album

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

The London band speak about working with Late Of The Pier, buying Kraftwerk's kit and lugging their Masonic eye to Dorset.

Filthy Dukes
Filthy Dukes [L-R]: Olly, Tim and Mark

They say "it's all about who you know, not what you know" in the music business.

London-based collective Filthy Dukes know this more than most.

Having chaired the capital's highly successful Kill 'Em All indie club night and having remixed everyone from The Enemy to The Maccabees they decided after some years to make their own band.

"The next thing you wanted to do was stop giving away ideas with remixes and write your own music," says guitarist Olly Dixon.

The result is Nonsense In the Dark their debut album [out 16 March] crafted by Olly, vocalist Tim Lawton and bassist Mark Ralph.

Special guests

And they've roped in some friends - The Maccabees, Late Of The Pier, Tommy Sparks, FrYars, Secret Machines and Plastic Little all contributed over the course of a year in Mark's north-west London lair.

Recording started after Ralph made the trip to Germany in a van and maxed out his credit card by buying Krautrock legend Conny Plank's [who recorded many of Kraftwerk's albums] custom-built mixing desk.

"No-one was prepared to take on this old beast of a desk that would obviously give anybody who took it away a load of technical problems and headaches," Mark explains.

Filthy Dukes
Filthy Dukes in their studio with Conny's mixing desk

"We got it back here and brought it back to life and our album was the first album to be made on the thing."

Guests then began offering their services.

"We wanted to make sure it was all about people we'd seen and loved," outlines Tim of the collaborative project.

"We didn't want to have the album with the big sticker on it saying 'Featuring blah blah' because that's not what we're about."

Much of the album was recorded in Mark's equipment emporium, but a handful of guests recorded parts elsewhere.

"Sam from Late Of The Pier recorded his vocals in his bedroom whilst his mum was sleeping next door," laughs Olly. "We should have given her a credit."

One of the most compelling tracks on the LP - the title track - features The Maccabees' Orlando Weeks.

"It was such a special performance [from Weeks] we kind of left it for a few months because we were so scared," recalls Olly. "We really wanted to do something which was a good as his performance - it took us quite a while to pluck up courage to get on with it."

Last year there were claims Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding would leave her group to work with the band on a solo career.

The Maccabees
The Maccabees' Orlando Weeks appears on the LP

Olly explains: "Some of the Filthy Dukes were asked to create a track for a soundtrack but not as Filthy Dukes just as producers and it ended up that they wanted Sarah Harding to be on the record."

"It wasn't a Filthy Dukes track."

DJ experience

Experience is on their side - their years schooled as DJs mean the band should have a grasp of what fires up a dance floor.

"This is naturally harder than DJing," agrees Olly. They're also more susceptible to criticism.

Tim: "When you're up there and you're singing - that's your heart and soul up on stage going out. And if everyone stands there and goes this is rubbish…"

Indeed, the logistics of the situation means Tim has to assume vocal duties.

"There's no way in the world you can get all those people together on a regular basis," reasons Olly. "It'd be like a travelling circus and obviously way too many egos."

'5th member'

Filthy Dukes' new fifth on stage member is a giant monolithic strobe-light eye - which also appears on the album's cover.

"We took the eye out to a cave in Dorset and fired it up with a generator and took a load of photos," says Mark. "We had to wash the eye down afterwards quite heavily."

We took the eye out to a cave in Dorset and fired it up with a generator and took a load of photos
Mark Ralph, Filthy Dukes

Olly: "We were still there at nine o'clock at night and it was lashing it down with rain - freezing cold and totally pitch black. It was like 'who's idea was this?'"

Chilly photoshoots aside the Filthy Dukes will be taking their eye on the road for the rest of the year.

"Sometimes people become mesmerised by the eye just losing control of themselves getting drawn in," says Olly.

Tim concurs: "It's quite Masonic as well. With all the different t people on the album its not like we're in a club but in this almost group, this gathering of minds almost."

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