Josh Smith – ‘Full Speed for Full Tilt and Northlane’s Future’
After a really difficult year for the music industry, it was a breath of fresh air for Australian heavy music fans to see the emergence of Full Tilt, a festival initially only intended for Brisbane, but due to COVID behaving itself has expanded to other cities across the country.
Destroy All Lines knew that the community of gig-goers were literally starving for live music, and so after seeing virtually no bands hit a venue in so long, they threw Full Tilt Fest into the mix with literally the biggest and heaviest Aussie bands in the scene – all in one place.
The inaugural festival is being headlined by heavy music veterans Northlane who are beyond stoked to be getting back on stage alongside some of their best mates. It’s quite timely for the ARIA award winning band to be top of the list, as they’ve just released monster single ‘Clockwork’ with more getting baked at the minute.
Guitarist Josh Smith jumped on Zoom from the forest for a few minutes to share what the band have been up to and how they’re gearing up for the festival that’s slowly approaching. In this scenario ‘the forest’ is referring to a lush Airbnb in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges where the band are recording their forthcoming album.
“We’re staying in this beautiful house and it’s just a gorgeous day outside. Normally, I get up early and exercise but because it rained overnight I just slept in.”
Anyone who follows Josh on socials will know he’s an avid cyclist, and would have otherwise gone for a ride.
Since Wall of Sound are proud sponsors of Melbourne’s Ride the Lightning’s Metal Spin Class, we thought we’d better run the idea past him with a hope of getting that tick of approval.
“Spin classes usually aren’t really for me as I like to ride outside, but I definitely listen to metal while I do it, so I think it’s a great combination… I want to listen to fuckin’ Hatebreed or something when I’m climbing up a mountain, so I’d love to come visit sometime.”
Though the band have been immersing themselves in the creative experience via relaxation, they’ve only just checked themselves in, so not much new material has been captured yet in the Dandenongs, but this isn’t the start of the recording journey. “We’ve been sitting on some material for a really long time,” Smith reveals – “COVID slowed down our touring schedule quite significantly.” After taking some time off, they eventually got stuck into it again and “started working on new music.”
About a month ago Northlane dropped ‘Clockwork’, a slice of their COVID output. The band would have held onto the track for longer before releasing it, but some fortunate circumstances led them to fast-track it. The band were approached by gaming juggernauts Ubisoft who were seeking a song for a videogame tournament. “We got this sick opportunity with Ubisoft because they wanted us to soundtrack the official song for their Rainbow Six Siege Oceanic Nationals Tournament League game.”
Ubisoft hadn’t heard the song yet, and just wanted to hear what the band had in the backlog. “We showed them a bunch of the demos we’ve been working on,” and sought to understand which track fit the vibe of what the gaming giants were after. Once they picked ‘Clockwork’ the band “recorded it as fast as we could to get it out in time. It should be on this next album too.”
As it always goes, diehard fans always discover references to bands’ new music before it comes out, because they can’t possibly wait – but with ‘Clockwork’ the info that leaked was a little bit different. “Somebody found the metadata for the song in Spotify’s back-end that wasn’t meant to be seen yet. We didn’t know how the data got leaked, but we looked into it and now we know how it happened and how to stop it from happening again.” But as they say, any publicity is good publicity, right?
The song’s been received incredibly well by fans, with 1.5 million YouTube views already. “It’s making me really excited about Full Tilt because we’re going to be performing it live for the first time.”
It’s with mixed emotions that the bands prepare for the upcoming festival that hits Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. “I think every artist is terrified about getting back onto a stage because it’s been so long between drinks for us, but I’m incredibly grateful to the organisers for putting this opportunity together for artists,” – Smith says, acknowledging the risks that Destroy All Lines face by dabbling in the arena of music festivals amidst COVID times.
Typically, punters are used to seeing one massive Aussie headliner or a co-headliner at best during some of these tours, so the thought of getting a lot of the big guns on one stage is pretty historical for our subculture. Thy Art is Murder, Make Them Suffer and In Hearts Wake amongst so many others will be joining Northlane across stages this Winter, so it’s a pretty eye-watering lineup. Everyone knows it too, just look at how quickly the Melbourne leg sold out.
“It really highlights how much talent exists in this country, it’s the best of the best all in the same lineup, you don’t really see that very often.”
We’re embracing it, particularly because music venues across the country are facing political backlash with perceivably unfair capacity constraints as compared to other industries like sporting. “Our industry’s being kicked to the curb,” the guitarist states factually. “I’m a sports fan and I love that all these sports are still happening and that people can go and watch, but would be nice if that was extended to music too.”
Whilst a hard pill to swallow that live music is only now starting to slowly return, Northlane like many others in the scene are trying to use the time effectively to create new music, but don’t get your hopes up as it might be a while until you hear more. “It’s unlikely to come out this year, just because there’s a lot that needs to happen first and we don’t want to rush it”.
If you’re reading this and have been a fan of the prog-come-metalcore legends, you’ll know that they’re a bunch of perfectionists – another reason why their approach to Full Tilt comes with mixed emotions.
“We’re going to come back [on stage], with all guns blazing, and the only reason that I said I’m feeling anxious about it is because we are perfectionists and we want to give people an amazing show, and we will.”
Northlane have some surprises planned for the festival, but they’d be silly to reveal them ahead of time, so make sure you’ve got a ticket to witness it first hand.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Catch Northlane at Full Tilt Festival
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