Frequently dubbed as one of the hardest working bands in the country, Josh from Sydney based metal outfit Northlane took some time from their busy schedule to reflect on their recent tour and tell us about their latest release, ‘Discoveries’.
Hi Josh how are you doing today?
I’m awesome man, just had my first proper sleep in quite a while!
You guys are just coming up on the last leg of your tour support your new record, Discoveries. How have the shows been so far?
The shows have been crazy man, we had no idea the new stuff would be received like this, our crowd numbers have really swelled and we’ve just had the best time ever!
Discoveries came out on 11.11.11 through UNFD. How did you guys hook up with this label and what has it been like working with them so far?
Well, Chris from House Vs Hurricane saw us play in a café to about 30 people because our booking agent, a friend of his told him to come check us out. He really dug us and told Luke Logemann, UNFD’s A&R about us. Luke got in touch with us straight away and the rest is history.
We honestly couldn’t be happier with UNFD and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It’s a strange coincidence seeing that pretty much every other label knocked us back.
The band chose to track at Electric Sun in Sydney with mixing and mastering duties being handled by Will Putney in America. What are some particular bands Will has worked with that you hoped the sound would emulate and is this a recording method you will look at again in the future?
I think next time we’d rather do the whole thing with Will, but for an unsigned band at the time of recording that wasn’t really on the cards. I don’t really think that there were any bands in particular that we wanted him to emulate, we just loved Will’s mixes and really thought that he could add to our CD.
We didn’t just want it to sound heavy, we wanted something dynamic that would add to the music and he really brought that to the table.
From what I can gather from an interview I read with your singer Adrian, the album title is a reflection upon your time as a band and the things you have seen and endured. What are some of the experiences both good and bad that have been influential when writing the songs?
Not so much the actual experiences we’ve had as a band, but more so the personal experiences we’ve had as members, if that makes sense. I can’t really speak for Adrian as he writes the majority of the lyrics but there is a theme of overcoming adversity. I shook hands with death deals with the idea of leaving a legacy behind when you pass on. For us, at the time of writing this CD we really wanted to make a milestone release that we would be remembered for so I guess that’s relevant.
How much time had you set aside for writing towards Discoveries in amidst touring? Did you hit any hurdles along the way while tracking?
We started writing Discoveries not long after Hollow Existence EP came out. It was sort of written between tours over a long period of time until about march of this year. I guess there was a fair amount of time set aside, and we did pre-produce every song ourselves at least once but we didn’t set aside a few specific weeks only to write like some bands do. While tracking we had a few issues with guitars not intonating that held us up, and we ran out of tracking time.
We spent an extra week at electric sun, which blew out our budget and threw out Will Putney’s schedule too. Jon ended up even having to track some guitars on his ProTools rig in the TV room upstairs at the studio to get it all done. This meant the CD was finished a long time after we predicted as Will seemed to have to just fit it in around his schedule which was our fault. At the end of the day, this was a huge learning curve for us and the result was worth it.
Did the band have any problems with any material leaking before the release date? What is your general stance on piracy within the music world?
Yes we did, we sent out a 4-track sampler to labels when we were trying to get signed. They were just reference mixes for the album and not the final mix/master. This got leaked the day we announced our signing but many people didn’t realise. The funny thing was it created a fair bit of misinformation as many blog sites thought that Discoveries was an EP and some moron from Europe even reviewed it!
Online piracy is neither good or bad, it’s just a change in the industry. People all over the world are hearing my band that normally wouldn’t. This creates more demand for us and can work in our favour. The main reason being show turnouts. I spoke to a group of dudes that came to one of our shows on this tour and kept us up at their place for the night. One of 5 of them actually bought the CD but they all paid entry to the show that night and they all bought merch. I really doubt that would have happened if they didn’t have free access to our music. Because of the small royalty we get for CD’s in comparison to merch sales and show payments, it’s more money in our pockets this way but some labels and even venues are dipping their fingers into that income stream too so we’ll see where the future leads…
Australian music is slowly but surely becoming oversaturated with archetypes of the djent nature. Is this something that influenced your writing? I personally found Discoveries to be quite a refreshing step away from what is happening at the Sumerian camp at the moment while still being technically impressive.
Sort of, as I mentioned before though we started writing before “djent” really took off over here and if you listen to Hollow Existence you can hear many of the groove elements that appear on discoveries in that EP, the production just doesn’t really reflect it as much. That said we don’t want to be pigeonholed in that genre because it’s not what we are.
There’s a huge influence from hardcore and post-hardcore in our music, I would say myself that bands like Miles Away and Underoath have influenced us more than bands like Periphery. Groove is an element to our sound but we don’t milk it. We like big sound scapes too, big riffs and hold a huge importance in the message behind our lyrics and package it in a way where the whole band interacts.
Tell us about your rig you are currently using live, why did you begin using a digital rig over the more classic tube amp style?
Right now I’m using an AxeFx Ultra direct to front of house and the other guitarist in my band does, as well as our bass player. This week, Jon upgraded to an AxeFx II because his ultra was playing up a bit in the last week of the tour and shortly I will upgrade as well.
We use Mackie HD1531’s on stage for monitoring ourselves and this gives us natural feedback and cab-like feel as well as filling up the stage sonically like a normal amp would.
We used to use AxeFx’s with Fryette 2/90/2 poweramps and run these into cabs and it sounded awesome. The problem we had though was consistency. Although our tone was great we could never capture it at every venue like we wanted to and because we were only using the preamp section and effects of the AxeFx we weren’t really making the most of it, although the alternative to this would be a multi-channel tube amp with a shitload of rack and pedal based effects.
By running it direct there were many more benefits. A much shorter signal chain which meant more reliability, the same tone at every venue because we eliminate all mics and room variables, no spillover on stage, a cleaner mix, more space on stage, more control over stage volume, more mix headroom and because we also use a kick trigger there are less variables in our band’s FOH mix so it’s more consistent. The icing on the cake is that we are using the AxeFx for 100% of our tone so it really gets the most out of that amazing unit, and we can fly it anywhere in the world and have exactly the same rig, which has already been fantastic for us.
Earlier this year Northlane played over 20 shows in a single month across the country. How hard is it pushing big tours in Australia?
It’s really hard actually as we had to do everything off our own backs and rely on local promoters. Not all the shows went well but this was the only way we could get our name out, as we never got thrown any support tours. We’ve been doing DIY tours since early 2010 so it’s nothing new to us at all. It’s just been a matter of building up contacts and fanbases so we can do longer tours as we grow as a band and reach more people in a shorter time period.
What has been your favourite town to play in?
Mount Gambier. Best kids on earth.
What is your favourite track to play live off Discoveries?
Transcending Dimensions because it’s the most punx jump friendly.
Favourite release of 2011?
Structures – Divided By. The most exciting thing to come out of Canada since Misery Signals.
What are Northlanes plans for 2012?
Lots of writing, lots of touring and probably lots of being broke.
Any bands we should keep an eye out for?
I’ve recently heard new material from some great Aussie bands – Stories and Far West Battlefront and it kicks ass. Also check out Endless Heights (my favourite Aussie band), Hearts Like Wolves, Statues, Hallower, Saviour and Aversions Crown.
Any final words and thanks?
I’m just so relieved we finally got this thing out! It’s been a huge work in progress for us, very frustrating and very scary too, only a few months ago we were considering an independent release because nobody would sign us. Huge thanks to UNFD, everyone who came out to shows on this last tour, picked up the CD, bought merch and gave us a floor to sleep on!