“This album will sound great in bigger places…” - Mike Duce tells hmv.com about Lower Than Atlantis’ Safe In Sound
After they were dropped by Island Records things at the end of 2013, it looked like it was all over for Lower Than Atlantis, but they’ve bounced back in spectacular style. Now set up with their own studio near their hometown of Watford, they bound into 2017 with a brand new album and their biggest UK tour to date selling out quickly.
We spoke to frontman Mike Duce about the making of new LP Safe In Sound and why he and his bandmates are bricking it about their biggest UK tour to date...
How did making Safe In Sound compare to the albums you’ve done before?
“The majority of this album was done at our own studio, pretty much everything except the drums. We actually engineered most of it ourselves, the producer Dan (Lancaster) did the drums and then I went to his house and my flat to record the vocals, but it was mostly just us. I feel like we’ve really found something that really works for us.”
Having your own studio must take a lot of pressure off, you can work at your own pace...
“Of course. The music industry is a pretty tricky place these days. A lot of our friends have been dropped or can’t get deals because they just can’t recoup. We’re not really spending any money, we’ve got the studio and so our outgoings are small and it doesn’t affect the end product. We don’t live our lives constantly worried about being in the red.”
How did you want to move on from your self-titled album in terms of your sound?
“The self-titled album is a weird amalgamation of sounds, only really tied together by my vocals, it’s a mishmash of everything. That album showed us what worked and what didn’t, so this the best bits.”
Have you incorporated any new influences on this LP?
“We’ve always listened to all types of music, we draw from all over the place, we’ve not focused on one genre, it’s always everything.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme that unites the songs?
“They’re all quite separate, there are quite a few themes. I think they’re relatable, but that’s because I’m a normal bloke, not because I’ve tried to make them relatable. There are songs about being in love, that old classic, monetary problems, everyone has them, even if you’re a billionaire banker you must worry about where you keep it, it’s everyday s**t.”
How are lyrics for you? Are you writing stuff down constantly? Or do you need to sit down and focus?
“Neither really. I write the music and melody first and then I’ll see what fits. If it’s an angry song I’ll try and find something that p**ses me off. This is our fifth album, I know what I’m doing now, I’m pretty efficient at getting things done.”
What was the song on the album that took the most time to get right?
“A song called ‘Money’, it’s this weird Pink Floyd mixed with The Police type song, the basis of the song was quite easy, but getting the production right took ages and we kept going back and forth. Me and Dan Lancaster argued a lot about that song, but it came out great in the end.”
You’ve got your biggest UK tour to date coming up, you must be excited...
“Oh my god! This must sound absurd, but we used to rehearse for about a day and then go on tour and we’ve upped that a lot. We’ve not really talked about it, but I think we’re all bricking it a bit about these shows. I’m excited, though. I feel like we’re ready for bigger rooms. This album will sound great in bigger places.”
What sort of set will you be playing? Will it be mainly new stuff?
“It’s going to be predominantly the last two albums. Most of our fans found out about us on our last album, lots of them thought it was our debut, which is wild given we’ve been a band for 10 years. But it’s great, that sound is where we’re at now and if that’s what people want to hear, great. There will be a few old classics though, we do have some hardcore fans.”
You do have five albums now to pick from...
“Last time we toured we missed out a whole couple of albums and we had some comments from fans asking why we didn’t play tracks from those, so we dropped them in, and most people were standing there, looking at us, wondering what these songs were or if they were covers, we’re not doing that again.”
Now you’ve got your own studio and you can work when you like, are you already writing the next album?
“I’ve got a couple of tracks ready, some good instrumentals. Having your own studio means there’s no working against the clock, I write music all the time and we’re always at it, so there’s always going to be plenty of material.”
Finally, you’ve done some co-writing in the past, even working with 5 Seconds Of Summer, is that still something you’re pursuing?
“I thought that would be a good avenue for me before the self-titled album, but it’s not a big priority anymore. Before that album, we were going to sack the band off, so it was basically a case of getting the songs I had, chucking some guitars on them and seeing what happened. Let’s just try it and if people don’t like it, never mind, we’re breaking up, and if they like it, that’s a bonus. So I was looking at writing for other people as something to do instead, but now that the band has taken off, Lower Than Atlantis is my only priority.”