The most organic album so far

Northlane

Thank you for taking time to talk with us. How are things in your world?

Good! We have been absolutely blown away by the response we have received since we put out our latest album – we never expected it to be such a success like it has and we are very pleased with how everything has gone.

It was quite a surprise when we found a new record on our desk. What made you make the surprise-release in this way?

Ever since we released our first album, we have tried to do something different and exciting. With Singularity we kept it a secret until we announced it and we did a lot of things like scatter pieces of songs around the internet and wait for people to put it together. This time we not only wanted to do something new – we wanted it to be like a gift to our fans that have been with us all the time. So for this one they could go and listen to the album as soon as they found out that it existed and stream it for free straight away. We really wanted to give that experience to them. It also created a really cool writing environment for us, because there were no expectations and pressure. And when we were ready to release it, we did.

It’s a risky thing to do and you really have to believe in the album you have created, because there’s no promotion etc. leading up to the release. We hid some things on the internet and there was a lot of speculations among the fans, and they actually had figured it out the day before the album came out, because we laid clues all over the internet. This way of releasing could go either way, but thankfully the album has been received really well, that it almost proofed to be a marketing stunt within it self, because so many people started talking about it, because of the way we had released the album.

In the press release you state that it is the most organic, yet most precise album to date. How would you explain that to the readers that have not heard the album yet?

Well, a lot of the songs was written with ideas that we came up with during sound checks. One of the things we did on our last tour, was to just jam and then record it and some of the best songs on the new album was written in that environment – organic as a whole band, which is something we have never done before. It also made it easier to recreate without having to use backing tracks etc.

We recorded it with David Banders who is a really old school producer and has a huge focus on the performance aspect of the recording, so for instance theres hardly any sampling on the drums, the guitars are recorded with real guitar amps. So a really organic sounding performance. Even the way the album was mixed, was done more organic that what we have done before. It was mixed on a console “live” after we tracked it all. So the old school way of mixing. So it has aspects of modern way of recording, but also vintage recording techniques and vintage recording equipment. So it has the warmth and sound of some of the old stuff like Pink Floyd and so on, but still sounding modern.

We didn’t wanted to release an album again that sounded exactly like all others in the genre - for instance the mixes are engineered to sound unrealistically heavy and that’s not what we wanted.

When it comes to the mix of this album, I’ve heard both good and negative things about the bass being in the forefront of the mix. What it also a conscious decision?

Well actually no. When we got the first mix back, we asked for more bass. A lot of other bands have the basse in front and it was a feature that we wanted – we wanted to sound like a live band with the bass and the drums working together. It was a really important part of this record and to get the groove that it has – it would not have been possible if it was not mixed like it has.

Yeah it’s really a challenge for crappy stereos!

(Laughing) Well the good thing is, that because it has been run through tape, it kind of compresses the highs and lows in a really nice organic way that doesn’t make anything sound too extreme. We have always been a polarized band – nothing we have done has pleased all of our fans, because they all have certain aspects of our music that they get passionate about, and because we always evolve in our music, how we look and so on - not everybody like that. Some people think that things should be the same, but that’s not who we are. The thing about the mix is, that a lot of fans are used to hear the kind of music that we play in a super bright and artificial mix, which is normal for the genre we play, but we don’t want to sound like that. Our genre has maybe reached a turning point where the mixes sound so artificial that bands are now starting to go backwards. Suicide Silence recorded their last album completely live and Meshugga did something similar. So for us, we really wanted to make it real this time.

Where it comes to your lyrics, it seems that are really some deep stuff here. Can you tell the readers what it is about?

Well this record is really interesting for us, because previously we felt compelled to write about certain things. We have always wanted to write really thought-provoking lyrics like the bands we look up to - Pink Floyd, Tool, Rush etc. Being fortunate to have success to a certain extend, we also feel responsible to talk about stuff that really matter. What was really different this time, was that we had a lot of really bad things happening to us while we were writing. We lost a lot of people that was really close to us and we had of things going wrong in our personal lives. Marcus have had all these awful things happening to him as he grew up as a child, which he had never addressed. There were also things that got bad in my life and I was talking to John and he said to me, that if this is important to you, don’t be afraid to share you thoughts on esoteric topics. We wasn’t afraid to tell our stories this time. Marcus wrote Fade and Heart Machine. that was a really point of difference for us with the lyrics this time. The album had a common theme of being lost with a little glimmer of hope.

You have stated that the song Paragon was a tribute to Tom Searle who passed away last year and you mentioned in an earlier interview that Architects is your favorite Metalcore band. How have they affected your music?

Yeah, we actually named the band after Architects because they were our biggest influence when we starting out. We were lucky enough to become friends with them through our carrier and especially Jon, who was writing the music, was really a close friend of Tom and he was heavily affected by his death. We weren’t actually going to put in 11 songs on this album, but Jon had this idea he had been working on to help him get through. Jon called me and said that he started on this idea and he wanted a song more about Tom or for him. That was a huge challenge, because it had to live up to him and the reason I decided paraphrasing his own lyrics was that I didn't feel that anything I could put into words would live up to his memories as his own words. Before we even committed to put it on the record, we talked to the Architects and send them the lyrics and demo to make sure that they thought it would make him justice and thankfully they were happy for us to do it.

What is your current view of humanity in general?

How long have you got? (laughing) - I actually address that on the track Savage. I think that humans are coming to a real tipping point where we are destroying our planet beyond repair, but we are also at the point where we might experience a new singularity as a species - we have begun merging with artificial intelligence and planetary travel. So I’m really excited about the future but I’m also worried because really bad things are happening in the world - which there always have been. What is really important now is the freedom of information. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of Edward Snowden, because he’s fighting the good fight. People would not have waken up to these things if they would not have these informations available to them. It’s partial a byproduct of the digital age.  The evolution of people will be our organic physical self merging with artificially intelligence.People are living within their own information-bubble and there news feed are not based on real news, but how they would actually prefer to see the world.

Talking about the Mesmer album again - how would you compare it to the old albums and in what way would you say that it is a typically Northlane album?

It’s typically Northlane album, because it addresses the topics we just talked about. It’s an evolution of our sound and the people are still the same. It’s definitely the most organic album so far and the songwriting was also harder this time, because of how personal some of the songs are on it. The hardship we experienced while we were making it and recording it, made it better!

What is your favorite track on Mesmer?

Probably Savage, cause I really like the lyrics on that song - parts of it kind of reminds me of Pink Floyd!

In what ways have the creative process changed in the band after switching from Adrian to Marcus in 2014?

Adrian had a lot of artistic influence in terms of how we presented ourselves, but in terms of songwriting, he just through his songs on top of the music that was already recorded. When Marcus entered the band I took on writing the lyrics and it became a more collaborate thing and something that everybody was really passionate about! For the first time ever we started writing song around the lyrics and vocals. Prior to Marcus joining we would never consider changing the music to fit the vocals, but since Marcus has been in the band, the vocals has taking much more forefront position and focal point of our writing. It’s a much  more holistic way of writing instead of just screaming over heavy instrumental music. And you can really tell, because one of the things we did previous was to release instrumental versions after the full album had been released and people loved it because they discovered stuff that they did not notice with vocals on. If we did that with Mesmer, you wouldn’t find anything new, because the music has been written to complement the vocals.

You have really grown in the creative process over the years!

We haven't ever looked back to our past - we have always tried to look forward and you can hear that in the songs. We discover new music and styles and we try it out.

Do you think you still fit into certain genres?

Especially after Singularity we have really tried to lay our own path and not really pay any attention to the trends in the sub-genres. Because everybody will try to imitate the pioneers of the certain sub-genre or styles. We just want to do our own thing

How much of the new album will you be playing live this year?

Well we will start with about 5-6 tracks in our headline sets, so almost half the record.

Where will you be playing this summer?

We are coming to play som festivals in Europe and the a headline tour for the new album later. We are going to do a lot of shows this year and we are really looking forward to that!

Do you have any last words to our readers?

I just want to say thanks to all our fans that have taken time to listen to the new records - see you out there!

Randy Gerritse