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Breaking Out: Broken Records

Spurred by Prince William (sort of), Scottish rockers make regal racket.

Who says the British monarchy is powerless? Simply by showing up for school, Prince William unwittingly helped Scotland’s hottest new band get started.”I was doing an English and philosophy course at St. Andrews University when William was studying there,” explains singer Jamie Sutherland. “It was terrible. He attracted all these upper-class toffs running wild with Daddy’s credit card. I had to get out of that place if I wanted to make music.”

So that’s what he did. After causing his doctor parents some grief by dropping out in 2006, Sutherland, 27, returned home to Edinburgh and formed Broken Records with his brother, violinist-accordionist Rory, 25, and guitarist Ian Turnbull, 26. “We played weird country-pop,” says Sutherland. “The songs felt like beginnings. We knew pretty quickly we wanted to sound bigger.” Soon, they recruited cellist Arne Kolb, pianist-trumpeter Dave Smith, bassist David Fothergill, and drummer Andy Keeney to help realize Sutherland’s vision of “an acoustic version of Spiritualized or the Verve, with lyrics influenced by my fantasy of being Bob Dylan.”

Reality, though, has suited the band well. On the strength of their sweaty, galvanizing live shows (witnessed at Europe’s biggest festivals this summer) and a debut album, Until the EarthBegins to Part (4AD), that’s full of sweeping reveilles powered by Sutherland’s romantic bellow and his bandmates’ orchestral melodramas (a term the elder Sutherland embraces), Broken Records found themselves pegged by British newspapers as a contender for the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Prize and deemed heirs to Arcade Fire’sbaroque-pop throne.

But don’t mention that to Sutherland. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be as big as them or that I don’t stand in front of my mirror pretending I’m headlining at Glastonbury in front of 60,000 people,” he says, “but the comparison is irritating because we’ll always come off as second-best — and I think we have a sound that nobody else is really making.”

There’s one other thing Sutherland wants to clarify. “I never met Prince William. In fact, I avoided him like the plague.” He lets out a laugh. “But I’m sure he’s exactly as nice as you’d think.”

WATCH: Broken Records, “Until the Earth Begins to Part”