Lower Than Atlantis: "If someone else can do it, why can't I? We've all got holes in our arses"
Lower Than Atlantis are one of the UK’s most successful rock bands, always on the up-and-up. Their secret? Fucking going for it.
Published: 9:47 am, March 04, 2017
2017 is the tenth year of Lower Than Atlantis. Not that the band are spending much time looking back. Mike Duce, Eddy Thrower, Dec Hart and Ben Sansom have just released their fifth album ‘Safe In Sound', which takes their decade of steady progression, says "fuck it" and starts sprinting towards bigger, brighter and brasher things.
"I think most importantly we've learnt is to enjoy it and have fun as we go along," says Mike. "For a while, it was really stressful and horrible. It was a job when we were on a major [for 2012's ‘Changing Tune'], and it was terrifying ‘cause it was never going to last anyway. It became not very fun, but it's really fucking fun now, isn't it? We just try and maintain that as well as good music. That's it." The secret to the band's success is simple.
‘Safe In Sound' sees the band flex their good-songwriting muscle. They've always known their way around a banger or two, but this time they've filled an album's worth. Sure, once upon a time Mike Duce wrote with 5 Seconds of Summer for their ‘Heartache On The Big Screen' - "Still talking about that are we? Fucking hell." - but as for picking a side between pop, rock or whatever: "I don't think about any shit like that. Not ever. We just do what we're doing. Stuff like that never comes into play."
Instead, the band keep it simple. "We know what worked from our last album, so this time around we made a whole album of it." All their previous records have come with intensity, an urge to lean forward and move quickly, but ‘Safe In Sound' plays with space. Every part glistens. "At the end of the day, there are four people in this band. Two guitar, bass, drums and vocal. We want it to mainly be about that as opposed to wowing people with production because we're just a fucking rock band. We want the songs to sound one-way, just us without all the fancy production, and then we worry about it later as opposed to it making the song. There's a lot of modern music where if you take away the modern production and take it back to a couple of piano chords and the vocal, it's horse shit. We wanted that not to be the case with our album."
With bigger shows behind them, and even bigger ones already booked in, ‘Safe In Sound' was written with those grand rooms in mind. "During the writing process we were thinking, ‘Will that drum fill translate on a massive stage, bouncing off walls or will it translate on a big festival stage, getting blown around on the wind?'" Ambitious and determined, "we're all quite similar," explains Mike. "I'm the type of person who's like, I really like this, I want to do it. I will do it. I'm like that with anything in life. If someone else can do it, why can't I? We've all got holes in our arses." It's a levelling attitude from a band about to headline Brixton after a decade of toil, but they want to inspire as much as they want to have a laugh. Now they know how to do both.
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"I looked at the setlist from when we played at the Roundhouse, and I was laughing to myself asking ‘Why did we play that song? That's rubbish live.' But that's only a year on; now we're really thinking about what works. Well, we're not thinking about it. We know what works and what doesn't." The songs from the first and second albums, they don't come across well when we're playing them," explains Dec. "We were playing shitty clubs and pubs, that's what those songs were written for," adds Mike. "They don't work in massive venues; they're a mess and sound shit."
"We enjoy playing, and that's where we came from." Sure, LTA are among the few UK rock bands that are also a radio band, but they've been touring for ten years.
"I've seen bands who release a few EPs on Spotify, get millions of plays and be on the radio, but then they'd have to learn how to play it live," starts Dec. "I've seen bands like that live the week their album comes out; it's Top 5 and the show's shit."
"They've put no graft in either," adds Mike. No one makes a ‘Work For It' joke.
"We know what we're doing musically," Dec continues. "We know who we are as people, for now, and we know what we're doing in regards to being a functioning band and a touring band. The band is a business. It's four people's livelihoods. We know what we're doing, and we're only going to get better at doing it."
"We're just music fans in general. We like all music, and we always have liked all music growing up. I always find it a bit weird that people do want the same thing over and over from a band, ‘cause that's just fucking boring. They want to pigeonhole things."
"It's like that Smashing Pumpkins thing; everyone wants them to get back together. I do, and I know Mike wants them to. I was watching this video yesterday, and Billy [Corgan] was like, ‘I'll do it', but I respect him for saying he wouldn't do it forever. Why taint something that was good? It's like going back to our records and touring for a ten-year anniversary. Nah thanks. It was there at a time. Let it lie."
"Get over it," shrugs Mike. "We actually bought back the rights to our first and second albums, so maybe we'll re-release them. ‘World Record' never came out on vinyl, and that's something I want to do, but anyone saying we were so good then and asking for a ten-year anniversary tour, you're just saying that to be cool mate. There were three people who came to those gigs, and you weren't fucking one of them. When bands do that, it's because they've peaked and they'll just play the album that did well and people actually like. We're not like that. Every album we've released has surpassed the last one."
"If the band ever stopped doing well, I think we'd stop doing it as opposed to changing what we do. It wouldn't be fun," offers Mike, before Dec adds: "No one is making you do something you don't want to do, so don't do it. If no one wants to come and watch it, why the fuck are you doing it?"
The end isn't in sight yet, though. "We've already started writing for the next album. Straight away we know what we're doing and how it's done. We know what we're doing now, and it's just a matter of staying on course and not fucking up. As they say, it's a one way ticket to stardom."
"Nonstop, to the top," adds Dec, with a grin.
Lower Than Atlantis's album 'Safe In Sound' is out now.