Lower Than Atlantis On Bringing 600 Fans To A Small Pub In Watford: “It Was Mental.”
We spoke to the band about new music, playing Reading and Leeds and more...
A couple of years ago, Lower Than Atlantis were dropped by their label Island Records. Shortly afterwards, their manager jumped ship too. When the tide starts turning against you like this, do you pack it all in and get a regular-Joe job? Do you sack off being in a band to become a quantity surveyor? Do you pack it all in so you can become a full-time polisher of those little wooden ships that go in glass bottles? (Someone has to do it.) Or do you carry on with the #dreammaaaan?
And if you do carry on – will anyone care?
Well Lower Than Atlantis have carried on and people clearly do care. Quite a lot of people care, actually. When MTV meets Mike Duce (vocals/guitar) and Ben Samson (guitar), they’ve just come off the main stage of Reading and Leeds after performing in front of tens of thousands of people. But what was it actually like playing one of the UK’s biggest festivals?
“Rubbish! Nah how do you think it was? C'mon man we played the main stage at Reading festival. It was a really good slot as well, I find. It was nuts.
“It's always quite scary when you get booked for these things, because you see the calibre of the other artists that are on the stage and you're like 'Oh no! Are we one of them? Can we pull it off?'
"I reckon we pulled it off - what do you reckon?”
When you see artists performing on the Reading and Leeds main stage, be it Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters or Skepta – they never look nervous. Since so many interviews with bands involves a lot of bravado and mouthing off, it’s a little rare to hear someone admitting that they were nervous about performing, and it makes Lower Than Atlantis seem all the more honest and real.
“If you don't feel nervous, you've got something wrong with you.
“I think everyone, unless you're really arrogant, I think everyone is in the same boat and is feeling like that. We're friends with the Nothing But Thieves guys, who were on before us, and they felt exactly the same. So it's nice to know...
“[It’s] just like [in] sports. You literally walk out on a platform in front of thousands of people and they just look at you and judge you - that's so mental.”
Do the nerves ramp up tenfold when playing to the bigger crowds?
“You know what, sometimes...it [playing massive shows] doesn't happen often mind! We ain't bloody U2. It depends on the size of the room...but I'd much rather play a big venue or a festival than a small show, because you can see everyone's faces at the small shows. It's like a sea [at the big shows]. You can just imagine that there's nobody there.”
Along with their new logo (which either looks a little too similar to Swim Deep’s logo – or a lot like three rashers of bacon), Lower Than Atlantis released their latest single (the big, brash ‘Work For It’ – streaming here), in August on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show. Was there anything the band could tell us about the new album coming in 2017?
“It's heavy as f**k.”
“It's really good.”
Looks like that’ll be the end of the ‘new music’ section of this chat for now then.
Anyway, apart from the new record, LTA are also set to head out on their biggest headline tour to date, including a gig at the 5000 capacity Brixton Academy. To prepare for that and for their Reading and Leeds shows, the band played an impromptu gig in a pub in Watford, which got a little bit busy…
“We literally just called up The Flag: "Alright, can I book it out?" and I explained to the guy that it was a warm-up show for Reading & Leeds.
“The [pub’s] location is so good [next door to Watford Junction – a 15 minute train ride from London Euston]. That’s what was so good about doing it - everyone just gets off the train and is straight in, beers straight down.
“I don't think he [the pub landlord] really comprehended what was going on until the show came and 600 people showed up to get into a little 200-capacity pub. It was mental.”
So, to finish. Coming off the back of one of their biggest shows to date and with a crazy busy 2017 (new album, biggest headline tour to date) looming large: how are the band feeling about it all?
“When everyone is there to see you...you know it's going to be great. You just have to try and have fun and have a laugh. Because that's what it's about at the end of the day. We get to make music for a living - which is hilarious by the way. All my mates have to put on a suit and get into town and I'm like "Nah mate!" I'm still doing what I was doing when I was 13 playing guitar in my bedroom...
“It's the best.”
You can buy tickets for Lower Than Atlantis’ 2017 tour here.