If you'd mentioned Pnau to most people as recently as a year ago, you'd have met with a blank stare. They were over, man - they'd been dropped by Warners after Again did unspectacular business in 2003 and in any case Nick Littlemore was concentrating on his other project, Teenager (working alongside with Pip Brown, best known these days as Ladyhawke). Pnau? What was that?
What a difference 12 months makes. After the self-titled Pnau album appeared late last year, Triple J jumped on the catchy ‘Wild Strawberries' - which Elton John, in town on tour (and to guest edit Time Out Sydney) heard on the radio while sitting in Sydney traffic. He immediately sent his husband David Furnish out to buy up as many copies of the album as he could find, subsequently declaring it to be the greatest record he'd heard in ten years. A Big Day Out tour reminded Australia how much they loved 'em, while the Elton recommendation opened doors for them on the other side of the world.
"Yeah, it's weird," Littlemore laughs down the line from the UK. "You can't plan these kinds of things. I don't know when it was but Big Day Out was cool and after that all of a sudden it seemed like we were 20 times bigger than we thought we were. Suddenly we had people rocking up to shows and they'd made complete strawberry costumes, which must have taken days and days to do," he says incredulously. "How did that happen from us playing at Club 77 and Candy's Apartment and tiny little venues in Melbourne or Adelaide to 5,000 seaters, when we really didn't do anything more than we'd normally do? It's just like the gods are sort of helping us out."
Of course, it helps when you have someone like Sir Elton acting as a worldwide ambassador of the album.
"Yeah, uncle Elton's great," Littlemore deadpans. "He's the star, he's the light - he just brings us through. And he talks so quickly, he's just so switched on it's incredible. I have to record most of our conversations so I can hear them back later and take in what he said. We're having lunch with Elton on Friday in his castle."
Since the Hordern Pavilion offers its performers rather more leg room than is afforded those on the postcard-sized Club 77 stage, Littlemore promises that the gig's going to be quite the multimedia spectacular.
"We've got a lot of stuff getting made and shipped over from China and we're working on the show, writing new material, and the light show is going to be pretty crazy. We really enjoy doing big shows; it's kinda what it's all about for us. But we've been over here [in the UK] for two months now doing small shows without any visual stuff other than ourselves really carrying it, and it's been great from the point of view as a band-as-a-three-piece."
The tour will see Pnau paired up with Operator Please, and while Littlemore expresses some doubts about how they'll be received, he declares: "I like Amandah [Wilkenson, singer/songwriter/guitarist] a lot, I think she's a real fuckin' talent. We had good fun with them at Big Day Out and we wanted to do big shows in Australia with a band that we thought could really relate to us on a colour level and an openness level and we thought that Operator Please are pretty much there."
Pnau hit the Hordern Pavilion on Fri 8 Aug.