Sydney’s Northlane at this point really need no introduction. Having gone from strength to strength every year, 2017 has seen them cement themselves as a mainstay in metal for years to come, and a band who we can all intuitively foresee as more than just a breakthrough.
The band recently opened up the Download Festival on the Main Stage, a tough task for any band, one which has fallen to Miss May I, All That Remains and Rise to Remain (now incarnated as As Lions) in the past. We shouldn’t be surprised that Northlane totally smashed it out of the park. And their schedule for this year already looks stacked, with their next UK appearance being at the UK Tech Metal Festival, headlining the Sunday (more info below).
The earlier part of this year was spent leading up to their seismic new album Mesmer, which featured a series of cryptic messages that were sent to the bands’ social media followers, and viral teaser videos that left many questions unanswered. That is, until 24th March this year.
As a technically proficient and unequivocally intricate band who craft euphoric waves of alternative, experimental metal with clever hooks and passages whilst remaining true to their metalcore roots, Northlane really are just getting started. Below is a chat I had with the band ahead of their Tech-Fest appearance whilst going in depth on their interpretative and clever inspirations lyrically and live music as a whole.
Dan: Thanks for the chat guys, really appreciate you taking the time. How are things going in Northlane at the moment?
Northlane: Things are going really well right now. We are taking our new record Mesmer to the world and having the best time doing it.
Dan: I’d like to talk a little bit more about Mesmer, but first, how is your tour going so far?
Northlane: The tour is going fantastic. We are getting amazing responses from crowds around Europe and the new material is proving to be very popular. Our side shows are jam packed and the festivals are some of the biggest stages we’ve ever played on.
Dan: I was covering Download Festival and saw you guys on the main stage on the Friday. In your opinions, how did that set go?
Northlane: Download was awesome, we played fairly early on. I feel like we won that crowd over and played to the best of our ability. It was our first show back in the UK and the first of this tour so it was quite exciting.
Dan: What was the feeling like playing the main stage of Download for the first time?
Northlane: 10% terrifying and 90% exhilarating. We had a far better show than the last time we played Download and we were on a much bigger stage. I had a smile on my face the whole time.
Dan: You’re touring Europe and Canada throughout this summer, and you’ve recently been confirmed to play the UK Tech Metal Festival in July, along with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Chelsea Grin and loads more. What’s on the agenda after tour finishes?
Northlane: We are also going to hit South America, New Zealand and announce a bunch of additional tours. I might get a bit of time at home to unwind after Canada but there’s no rest for the wicked. We’re always writing too and I’m already getting excited about what’s happening on that front.
Dan: In terms of live scenes, how do the UK and Europe compare to Australia?
Northlane: They’re far bigger, with many more people. There are so many more places to play, and there is such a rich culture that surrounds music, especially in the UK. I found Europe took a lot more work to win over than the UK. Punters in the UK are far more agreeable like they are back in Australia whilst Europeans are a really hard sell. They’re very honest with you in the mainland and if you suck they’ll let you know, it definitely keeps you honest and I kind of like that.
Dan: Going back to Mesmer, having had a few months to digest the reception of the record, how has it measured up in your opinion?
Northlane: We are really, really pleased with how everything has gone. The songs are proving quite popular and translating well live, our fans really relished the fact they were handed the record to listen to straight away and we can feel the appreciation on stage every night. We have seen awesome growth on our online streams and really positive feedback. It’s really inspiring for us moving forward.
Dan: Lyrically, I picked up on a very cathartic meaning and interpretation of Mesmer as a whole. What were the lyrical inspirations in the writing?
Northlane: When we began writing this record the topics were quite typical for us – existential, political, environmental. However, as we progressed through the writing process a lot of unfortunate things happened around us. We lost friends, loved ones and had relationships break down, among other events. It was a really difficult two years for us, both as a band and as people. As these things happened, we channelled it into our writing and wrote some of the most personal cuts of our career to date. There is a common theme of interconnectedness throughout these songs. They are all share the thread of loss, whether it’s loss of a loved one, loss of our connection to the natural world or loss of our sense of self. The record is quite dark and emotionally charged in this respect, but there’s a glimmer of hope to everything.
Dan: Could you tell me a little bit more about the story to the album as it progresses, if there is a definite narrative to speak of?
Northlane: There isn’t really a narrative to it, besides the recurring theme of loss. Every song is its own topic, its own story and perspective.
Dan: What can you tell me about the recording process of the album?
Northlane: We recorded the album with David Bendeth at the Barber Shop Studios in Hopatcong, New Jersey. Hopatcong is a beautiful lake town that really swells in the summer. We just missed peak season and the town was sleepy. The studio was incredible, unmatched facilities to anything we’d ever had before. We lived on the opposite side of the lake in a house we rented out. It was really old and creaky, we could have sworn it was haunted. The first day David took us out on his boat to drink beer and get to know us. His willingness to get to the inner essence of each of us was his modus operandi for the whole process. He wanted to delve as deep as he could to withdraw every ounce of passion and emotion from us into our music. He broke each of us down to build us back up into a more confident version of ourselves, having addressed all of our inner and interpersonal struggles.
Dan: Do you feel as though you have progressed and matured in your own minds, since the release of Node a couple of years ago?
Northlane: Absolutely, we couldn’t have grown more as people and as a band since then. A lot of that has to do with David Bendeth and the writing/recording process of Mesmer. Like I said it was a difficult few years and that really brought us together, which is probably why it was such a collaborative record too. You can hear it in how cohesive the instruments and music are.
Dan: As someone who is very fond of Australian metal (having lived there for about 6 months) I encountered a very passionate live music scene, particularly in and around Victoria. Can you tell me a few other bands from Australia that you think have potential and have all the tools in the right place?
Northlane: I think the best example is Ocean Grove. They are doing something incredibly unique with a huge amount of passion. Polaris are a band going from strength to strength as well. There’s a lot of smaller acts coming up too like Cursed Earth too.
Dan: What’s your favourite city to play shows in when you’re touring Australia?
Northlane: It used to be Sydney, our home city but these days it’s Melbourne. I honestly think Melbourne is the best city for live music on earth, and it’s where the entire music industry is based in Aus. It has the most incredible nightlife and people love to go out and have a great time in Melbourne. It has a lot of our favourite venues too.
Dan: If you could book a dream tour to play on, who else would be on it?
Northlane: I think this would be different for every member of the band, but for me it would probably be Deftones, us & Ocean Grove.
Dan: Finally, and at the risk of going too open ended, what does playing music mean to you?
Northlane: Playing music is the most liberating art form to be involved in. Not only can your passion be captured forever in a recording, it can be recreated live and you can directly witness the impact it’s had on others. That is the most incredible feeling in the world.
Catch Northlane playing UK Tech-Metal Festival on Sunday 9th July 2017.