After the band teased and tickled their fans with a mysterious webpage hinting at the production of new music, Northlane released a jack-in-the-box surprise 4th studio album on the 24th of March 2017. Mesmer shows the Sydney grown metalcore powerhouse still possess a pool worth of passion and a unique splash of innovation (check out Wall of Sound’s album review here).
Front-man Marcus Bridge gave me an insight to the band and album through an interview discussing the past, present and future.
How are you feeling at the moment Marcus? Is there a calm before the mid-year tour storm, or is there a lot of relief now that the album is out?
I guess a bit of both. It’s definitely a relief with the surprise release of this album; it’s pretty hard to keep a secret. It’s quite relieving now it’s out and people can listen to it and now we’re hearing what people think. It’s definitely been quite a positive vibe so far. Definitely excited to get out and start touring some of these new songs and get to some new places.
I noticed that you worked with David Bendeth as the producer for Mesmer. He’s got a degree in psychology, so that must have been a rollercoaster ride…
Absolutely. He was definitely someone who broke us all down and got to the bottom of us all and really got to know us very, very quickly. It was definitely a great experience. He was able to get the best out of us all and get us more comfortable with ourselves and around each other very early. That’s made it possible for us to present our ideas to each other and not be holding back. He was definitely a great choice of person to work with.
Before you got into producing the album with David, you did a lot of writing around places like Germany whilst on tour. How did you find writing on the road?
We spent some time in a place called Ghost City Recordings in Germany. Spending time there was really good to be able to bond with the guys. I think it was more we weeded out all of the ideas that weren’t so strong and more so focused on our ideas of what we wanted the record to be. It was a great time for us to be all in the same room and to be able to change something if someone had an idea right on the spot and for them to be able to clearly present that idea to you. When you’re recording stuff and sending it over the internet and waiting for emails back and all that stuff, you’re never going to get it quite right. So yeah, really just a great time to gel with each other.
In Mesmer, there is some subtle synthesiser, which hasn’t really been apparent in the previous records that you’ve done. How did the band react when the idea of some synthesiser was brought to the table?
I guess that’s something Jonny (Jon Deiley – lead guitar) has been working on. All of the more electronic elements of the album are all Jonny’s doings. It’s was never anything that was too overwhelming. I think everything that is on the album is very complimentary of the music; it’s not in your face for the sake of having it. It’s all there to assist the atmosphere that was necessary for the music. None of us were really too shocked or thrown by it. We’re always open to trying new things, this just felt like a good direction to be heading in. We really enjoyed what he was coming up with.
Speaking of atmosphere, with Node and Mesmer, I think the atmospheres you make are quite unique and could actually be applied to other forms of media. Have Northlane or members of Northlane ever considered writing for something like film before?
I’m sure Jonny has thought about it before. He’s got his own electronic stuff he makes in his own time; things he’s always widdling away at. We all do our own things in terms of music and we all write different things. It’s hard to say really. Northlane is our main concern. If anything like that ever came up then it’s obviously an opportunity that would be quite interesting, but yeah, I don’t know *chuckles*.
You’re obviously interested in festivals with quite a few being lined up in Europe, so how has the band responded to festivals like Soundwave disappearing in Australia?
It is a shame when those kind of things disappear, but in the wake of all that there’s a lot of room for new things to pop up. Obviously there’s been Unify Gathering which has been so much fun and it continues to grow. I’m sure there’s going to be other new things to fill that void. Hopefully a new landscape of festivals will be built in Australia, but it is a shame to see that. Hopefully it just means more headline shows from bands. We’ll see what happens.
Do you guys prefer to play festivals or smaller shows?
They’re definitely both different. Festivals are usually so exciting with the large scale. Especially with Unify or something like Groovin’ the Moo, it’s always something pretty crazy. The energy at headline shows are pretty unmatched though. All these people here to see you and are really there to give you their energy and everything they’ve got. I love them both.
Are there any upcoming bands in Australia that Northlane have their eye on?
There is quite a few great bands at the moment. There are ones we always talk about like Ocean Grove and Polaris. There are so many bands that are doing all sorts of different things. Trophy Eyes is another band that I really like at the moment. There is a lot of great stuff happening at the moment, but it’s hard to put it all on a list.
Speaking of other bands, Northlane did a collaboration with In Hearts Wake (Equinox EP). You were also featured on Polaris’ most recent EP (The Guilt & The Grief) with the song ‘Hold You Under’. Will we be seeing Northlane or members of Northlane interacting with other artists again soon?
I’m not too sure. Those things happen with friends and stuff. I’m pretty close with Polaris and I’ve known Ryan (Ryan Siew – Polaris guitarist) for quite a while. Obviously Northlane and In Hearts Wake have been good friends for years. These kind of things happen from time to time when the feeling is right. I guess anything can happen. It’s always fun to work with other people and put your vibe on something or have that bring something completely different out of you.
With the success of the band still obviously growing, how does the band respond to criticism when the new sound is compared to the old sound?
I’m pretty chill with it. You get a lot of it here and there, but as we go on it’s slowly fading out. You see a lot of people tearing them apart now which is kind of funny. You can’t let it bother you when you’re seeing so much more positive stuff as well. We’ve been so lucky to have so many people stick by through all of this. As everything goes on people are jumping back on board or just discovering us. In the end all of the negative people are that way because they’re passionate about your music, which in its own way is kind of cool.
It’s great to see you guys progressing and trying different things successfully.
Thanks man, it’s something we always try to do.
If the band had to produce a non-metal album what genre do you think Northlane would throw out?
That’s pretty hard as we all listen to very different music. Like I said, Jonny is very into his electronic, as is Alex (Alex Milovic – bass). I like my pop rock sort of stuff, so it would be very hard to pick one sort of genre. For me I guess I’d put out a mad, funky Bruno Mars album, but that’s just me; I can’t speak for everyone else.
For all of the bands out there that are up and coming with their own projects: after experiencing the success of Northlane, how would approach music differently if you could move back ten years?
I’m still pretty young and I feel everything that has happened to me musically has been a learning experience anyway. I feel like you need all of those moments to learn and to grow as a musician. From playing a crappy first show in a RSL to doing something more crazy, you need those early experiences to learn everything. So I’m not sure how much I would change; everything is growing and learning.
Don’t feel like missing out on their mid-year tour is at all an acceptable idea. Check out where they’re touring and go listen to some tip top tunes!
Interview by Kurt Boldy
NORTHLANE – The Intuition Tour
With Special Guests HANDS LIKE HOUSES
Wednesday 10th May – Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
With Void of Vision & Levels
Thursday 11th May – Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC
With Void of Vision & Winfield
Friday 12th May – The Wool Exchange, Geelong VIC
With Void of Vision & Amberyse
Saturday 13th May – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights VIC
With Void of Vision & Pridelands
Wednesday 17th May – Academy, Canberra ACT
Thursday 18th May – Home Tavern, Wagga Wagga NSW
Friday 19th May – Uni Bar, Wollongong NSW
With Graves & Vices
Saturday 20th May – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
With Graves & Set Me On Fire
Wednesday 24th May – Coffs Hotel, Coffs Harbour NSW
With Meridian Theory
Thursday 25th May – Miami Tavern, Gold Coast QLD
With Saviour & She Cries Wolf
Friday 26th May – Spotted Cow, Toowoomba QLD*
With The Brave & My Friend The Betrayer
* Hands Like Houses Not Appearing