When was the last time you heard of a band that funded their debut recording (which got them signed to Roadrunner Records) by winning a reality TV show?
Well, Madina Lake did just that and having already conquered the UK they’re making their way down under to show Australia audiences what they’re all about…
Interview with Matthew Leone (Bass)
of Madina Lake
By Cameron Chambers
Hey man, you Cameron?
Certainly am. How are you today Matthew?
Yeah good man, let’s do this.
You guys are on the Kerrang Tour in the UK at the moment yeah?
Yeah dude, it’s wonderful!
What other bands have taken
part in the tour?
It’s been Coheed And Cambria,
us, Fightstar from the UK and Circa Survive from the States.
It’s been a really kick arse, diverse, eclectic bill. All the venues
have been two or three thousand capacity and they’ve all sold out.
We’ve just had heaps of awesome
hang outs… well, not so much with Coheed, ha ha, but with all
the other bands for sure. There’s been dangerous amounts of hang outs!
Your debut record
“From them, through us, to you” was well received in the
US, but the response throughout the UK has been absolutely
massive. What do you think it is about you guys that has attracted such
a large European following?
Thanks for that! Well, for one
thing I think we resonate better with the European culture. The US is
more reserved and inhibited whereas the UK is full of real kids. They’re
more in touch with themselves and they know themselves better. They’re
willing to have fun and leave their ego at home…they don’t worry
about how cool it is to like a band and they loosen up easily.
We’re the band who really embraces
a crowd and feel that we’re one together. We always jump in the crowd!
We had the chance to play in front of a lot of people in the UK early
on so that first Paramore tour really helped us!
You and your brother Nathan formed the band in 2005, but what was your musical background
prior to Madina Lake? I know that
you guys were in a group called The BlankTheory a few years ago…
Ha ha, we generally try to deny
that but I guess with the internet you can’t really do that, ha ha.
We grew up being freaks about
music but we were actually soccer players, so we went to college on
scholarships, but we were the dudes on the team in Metallica
or Smashing Pumpkins tees all the time. We made the switch to
music and formed The Blank Theory with two guys we didn’t really
get on well with, but during that time we met Dan and Mateo
who were in a competing Chicago band called Reforma.
We connected on a philosophical
level and a musical level and we just decided that we weren’t satisfied
with our existing band, so we thought let’s just do it and get in
a band where we can be honest about the music and the message and not
fit in or conform and just do our own thing!
Madina Lake is a fairly
big departure from your last outfit. Is this the kind of music you had
wanted to write for a while or was it just a natural progression from
your earlier bands?
It’s definitely music we all
wanted to write for a long time now. With our old band, we maybe tried
to chase a trend and write a hit song, but after the four of us got
together for Madina Lake we decided how awesome it would be if
we could write the music we grew up with, like PaulSimon, Anthrax, Nine Inch Nails and the Smashing Pumpkins!
We wanted to write music that
is so honest and about super honest experiences you know? Really intense
things where it’s music that moves you… where every note moves you,
and Madina Lake is the culmination of all those feelings.
Do you think the connections
you made through The Blank Theory put Madina Lake in a better position than a lot of other young bands?
That’s an interesting question.
We definitely learnt a lot about the business side of the industry which
helps. I collected a lot of email addresses from A & R dudes from
when The Blank Theory was signed, so when we made the demo I
emailed the songs to Ron @ Roadrunner Records and just
said “hey, I’ve met you before and I think you should have a listen”.
As a lot of people are probably
aware, you and Nathan actually won ,000 on the reality show Fear Factor, which you used to finance your demos, which ultimately
led to your signing with Roadrunner. Did any of the initial recordings
or songs make it on to your full length or did you start from scratch
when it came time to do the album?
We started from scratch, but our
first EP had three songs on it from those sessions. Yeah, we went on
that show as a joke so we could make fun of the jocks and we thought
we’d lose in the first round to a bunch of girls, so we had no idea,
We thought it would remain autonomous
from the band but yeah, it ended up on TV, ha ha. Still, the money helps,
Mark Trombino is renowned
for working with bands that have a heavy pop influence in their sound.
What made you choose him to helm your debut full
We were big fans of the Jimmy
Eat World record and massive fans of Mark’s band Drive
LikeJehu and Blink 182 in particular. When he first
came in the tones he got for the record were really good but the main
thing was that we were confident he’d let us make the record we wanted
to, without too much input… and that was definitely the case.
We initially had two weeks of
pre-production and after the first day Mark just said that the
songs were ready to go so let’s just record! We made the record without
a producer chopping a chorus or part or anything!
We loved his previous records
so we were hoping to get that sounding record without compromising
the integrity of the songs. We wrote them after our day jobs, so between
11pm and 5am in this run down, industrial part of Chicago, so we really
wanted him to capture the vibe of the songs that they were written under.
The overall theme of
“From them, through us, to you” is about the disappearance of a
young woman named Adalia. Can you tell us who came up with the
story? Were you ever concerned that making your first full length a
concept record was a bit risky?
Yeah, we never really thought
about that. Naively, we didn’t look at it like a concept record so
we just had this idea in the beginning because we read a lot… a lot
of philosophy, social culture and pop culture.
As we wrote the lyrics and the
music came to fruition I began to write the story of Adalia,
who is the woman who disappears, and then the whole thing sort of grew
symbiotically from there. It’s basically a commentary on the pop culture’s
obsession with celebrity, wealth, vanity and the value shift that has
moved to that from love, earth and the connection to people.
So yeah, it wasn’t something
that we were going to go marketing out of the gates, but if you were
fan and peeled the album back you’d get a little bit more.
In 2007, Madina Lake declined to take part in the Vans Warped Tour and opted to hit the road with Linkin Park instead. Was that decision made from a business perspective
or did you feel that Linkin Park’s crowd would be more receptive to your sound, compared the more punk
and hardcore friendly Warped kids?
That’s a really interesting
question man. It be perfectly honest, it was our choice. A lot of times
when a band comes out they get pigeon holder into a genre based on what’s
popular at the time. Warped is really kind of scene and trendy
and that’s not really what we’re about. We never came from any scenes
so we don’t fit into that sort of mould.
We saw the roster of the Linkin
Park tour and it had Placebo,Mindless Self Indulgence, Saosin and The Bled, and it was so diverse and cool and we
wanted to align ourselves with a more timeless rock sound instead of
a scene, which is becoming like the popular kids in high school, and
that’s something that we’re standing against.
Good answer man.
Within 2 days of finishing the Kerrang Tour you’ll be doing a brief stint in the US with Aiden. When was the last time you guys actually had an extended
period of time off?
Oh man, we’ve been on tour almost
official for two years straight, with one two week break over Christmas.
Otherwise, it’s been straight and we just keep going and going. We’re
big fans of travel so we’ve been doing lots of international work.
We didn’t want to just focus
on the US because we don’t give too much of a shit about that, so
we had the opportunity to put the record out in other countries so we
took it! It’s tiring but it’s awesome!
You’ll be making your first
trip to Australia as part of the Soundwave Festival in the next
few weeks. Have you played or toured with any of the other bands on
the line up?
Yeah, a ton of them actually. Halifax are the first ones that come to mind. We’ve done a tour
with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus… and I’m trying to picture
who else is on there.
We’ve played with a ton of those
bands which is really cool. I love the big festivals because it’s
all the bands that you’ve spent the year bumping into and you get
to congregate in one place!
Who are you looking forward
to checking out?
Shadows Fall for sure, I would love to see them! Mae… I’ve been listening
to that record a ton! It’s going to be awesome come to think of it!
What are your plans once you
finish up in Australia?
A little more touring in the US
and then we’re going to take some time off to write the second record
and then we’re going to tour again.
We’re actually going to do two
weeks of Warped Tour this year from what I understand, ha ha.
If you could take any 3 bands
on tour with Madina Lake, who would you bring and why?
Oh man, geez… good question! Fightstar, who we’re on tour with right now. They’re incredible
musicians and they made a brilliant record and they’re just a blast!
They’ve been partying like crazy too!
Circa Survive who we’re also on tour with. They’re on of those totally eclectic
bands that… they’re just a really interesting, talented, artistic
band and we’d take… our friends The Audition!
That’s all we’ve got time
for mate, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just, I don’t know if you Aussies
know, but you have the best reputation around the world for being the
coolest place around!
We aim to please.
Ha ha ha, thanks so much man.
My pleasure, we’ll be seeing
Make sure you check Madina Lake
at the upcoming Soundwave shows!