“None of us like the limelight, it doesn’t go with our songs or who we are” – hmv.com talks to Lonely The Brave
There’s nothing flashy about Cambridge rockers Lonely The Brave. Nothing showy, nothing extravagant, nothing to draw attention to themselves. In every photograph, you’ll most likely find them in jeans and black t-shirts, either that or wrapped up warm in coats. If you’ll forgive the tired old expression, they let their music do the talking. Even to the extent that frontman Dave Jakes doesn’t talk, not ever, no interviews, no thank you’s during live shows, just head down and sing.
But what talk it is. Soaring, heart-swelling rock and roll, but with a depth and a majesty that it takes most bands three or four albums to master. If you could bottle what makes people cry when The National are on form, mix it with the power and poise of the Smashing Pumpkins and then give it the gusto that made everyone fall in love with Pearl Jam all those years ago, you’d pretty much have Lonely The Brave.
Their debut album The Day’s Way is one of the year’s best and it’s out on Monday (September 1st). To find out all about its journey into the world, which included sleeping in a van outside the studio and scraping to save enough money to finish the thing, we called up guitarist Mark Trotter…
So The Day’s War is finally here, you’ve already had two delays, you must be relieved it’s finally coming out…
“Yeah, although I know it’s coming out this time. I’ve seen copies! You’re right though, we’ve been sat on it for a long time, we maintain that it was the right decision to make to delay the record, but it is a relief that people will finally get to hear it. We just want to see what people make of it. We’re excited about that.”
You’ve had a busy year of gigs and you’ve done lots of festivals, were you concerned that people wouldn’t know enough of your songs?
“We were really worried about the record not being out before festival season. We were convinced no-one would come to watch us and those that did wouldn’t know any of our songs. The shows have all been amazing though and we have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s all off the back of that one EP. It’s mad.”
Were you in the studio for quite a while?
“No, god no. We had no money, we paid for it ourselves. We recorded it over six weeks, but not six weeks straight, six weeks with real life in between. It was recorded with Mark Williams, at this studio in Newbury. We were sleeping in Mo’s (Edgeley, drummer) Dad’s builder’s van outside the studio, going to the local swimming pool every other day for a shower. We couldn’t afford to go every day.”
What’s Mark Williams like as a producer? How did you find him?
“He actually worked with one of our managers on a project before, so he got recommended to us. He’s bloody good at what he does. What we wanted is a good representation of what we sound like live, and for the budget we had, he did an amazing job, he captured our live sound superbly.”
Were there any songs on the album that you wished you had more resources to put into?
“It’s the first record I’ve ever played on that I’m completely happy with. Of course, if we’d had more money and time we’d have used them, but I wouldn’t go back and change anything. It’s the best thing we could have done with what we had.”
What’s the track that dates back the longest?
“’Victory Line’, that’s the first track we wrote as a band, so that’s over four years old now. The most recent tracks are probably ‘Islands’ and ‘Call Of Horses’. It’s mad for any song to be that old though.”
How would you sum up the album lyrically?
“To me, it’s the most important thing on an album. As a musician, you have to be a vehicle for the lyrics, to power them and to make them work. If you don’t do that, then I don’t see the point. My favourite songs are the ones that tell stories. I don’t need to know what they’re about necessarily, there are plenty of songs I love that I have no idea what they’re about, but I know what they mean to me.”
“Some of the songs are fairly obvious, some are a lot more veiled. Some people will get what the lyrics are about, some will take them and apply them to their own lives, which is even better to us.”
Dave (Jakes, singer) is not the most forthcoming character. He doesn’t do interviews, he says nothing on stage, is this how he communicates? Through lyrics?
“I think so. There’s a certain amount of catharsis. Some of the lyrics are very personal, some are brutally honest, which is very difficult to do. To be honest, we’ve never seen how he is as a big deal, he just doesn’t like the limelight, none of us like the limelight, it doesn’t go with our songs or who we are. It probably is a way of him getting stuff out, he finds it easier to do it that way.”
He seems to be coming out of himself a bit more, every gig we’ve seen he seems to get closer and closer to the front of the stage…
“Yeah, I think he’s getting more used to it. We all are. We’ve gone from playing this summer from doing clubs shows to playing stadiums and festivals, it’s a big learning curve. We’ve always said though that we don’t care what he does as long as he sings. Doesn’t matter if he does it from behind a curtain three miles away, as long as he sings.”
So after the record comes out, do you have much booked in?
“We’ve got our UK tour coming up, some more European stuff, we’ve also been doing quite a lot of writing so we’ll be doing some recording and we want to get started on the second album. But I think 2015 is going to be, we’re going to be playing anywhere and everywhere that will have us.”
Lonely The Brave’s debut album The Day’s War is out on Monday (September 1st). You can pre-order the album in hmv stores across the UK now.