UTG INTERVIEW: Northlane, Backstage At ‘Big Day Out’

northlane

Emerging from the youth centre stages of the multi-cultural melting-pot that is Sydney’s western suburbs, Australian progressive metalcore powerhouse Northlane have been riding an irrepressible wave of momentum of late that has seen them rise from relative anonymity to the very forefront of the Australian heavy music scene. Much of this rapid ascension can be attributed to the stunning success of their second full-length album Singularity, a record which saw them earn critical acclaim, both at home and abroad.

An unexpected chart success on home-soil, Singularity debuted at number one on the local iTunes chart and an impressive number three on the ARIA charts, gifting these Blacktown lads with the kind of exposure that opens up doorways to the rest of the world. Doorways which the band stormed through in 2013 as they secured an international release of Singularity through Canadian label Distort and embarked on a heavy touring schedule that saw them play over 150 shows in 18 countries.

Finally back in Australia to perform on the Big Day Out festival (alongside the likes of Pearl Jam, Deftones, Arcade Fire and Snoop Dogg) as it tours around Australia, the positive, passionate, and as it turns out, incredibly polite lads, took some time to speak with us backstage, granting an inspiring insight into the best year of their life and the commitment, drive and unwavering self-belief that made it possible.

UTG: It’s a long way from Blacktown Masonic Centre to the stages of the Big Day Out, what does it feel like to be here?

Adrian (Vocals): I always say that the Big Day Out is one of those festivals that any aspiring Australian artist would dream of being a part of, so without sounding too cliché, it’s a dream come true for us, and we are extremely grateful to the Big Day Out for making that dream a reality for us, especially considering the nature of the music we play

UTG: Speaking of the music that you play, there has been a definite influx of Australian heavy bands making inroads overseas of late, with the likes of yourselves, Dream On, Dreamer, The Amity Affliction and Hands Like Houses achieving significant success overseas. What do you think it is that is leading to so many bands being able to breakthrough?

Jon: I think that Australian bands have some sort of special quality about them. Considering we are on some fuck off island in the middle of nowhere, with a small population that’s spread out so much geographically, it forces us to have to work harder to get anywhere. So when we do eventually breakthrough and get those opportunities overseas, we’re ready to give it our all,  and audiences are really supportive of the effort it took to get there and are appreciative of and respond to that

Adrian: We’re quite isolated here in Australia and I can see how in the past it might have been easy for the world to not know what was happening in Australia, but with the advance in technology such as downloads and streaming services enabling us to be able to share songs with the world instantaneously, and then just as importantly be in direct contact with people as they respond to that music, when coupled with the success of bands like Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction, it has really opened up the world’s ears to what’s going on here in Australia, particularly in our genre.

UTG: 150 shows in 18 countries last year, that must have been an insane experience for you all. What was the most memorable experience that you can think of?

Adrian: Fuck man, the whole year.

Jon (Guitar) The most useful memorable experience was having new experiences, which was constantly happening.

Nic (Drums): Well that’s it, last year we definitely broke boundaries that we’d definitely never gotten to prior to this year, we’d never gone to Europe, we’d never gone to the states, so basically it was just a whole year filled of breaking boundaries and having new experiences that we didn’t necessarily think were possible previously and I think that year in general was such a memorable experience for all of us.

Adrian: I’m a big loser, I like doing sightseeing and stuff, so when we got to see things I was just so stoked, like we went to Russia for instance, which was wild, I mean if we weren’t in a band we’d probably never had the opportunity to go to Russia.

Nic: We’re all big tourists, and I know personally I am grateful for the band providing me with so many opportunities to see the world and experience things that I otherwise would never have had the chance to have. We’d never have been able to see as many countries as we have without the band.

Adrian: This past year, 2013 has just been the most incredible experience, so our goal for 2014 is to make it even better than that.

UTG: Speaking of 2014, the year is getting underway with a bit of victory lap for Singularity isn’t it, with this slot on the Big Day Out?

[laughter]

Adrian: Yes, you could say that.

UTG: Adrian, you’re on record at 17 as saying that you knew the music you were writing in your bedroom with these guys was some of the best heavy music being produced in Australia at the time, does the success of Northlane mean that you were right?

Adrian: I was talking to my mate about this the other day actually, and all I could put it down to was that at some point in life, you just have to go with your gut, and I think that when you do that, you’re barely ever wrong.

Nic: I think there is actually a scientific basis for that. Personally I think if you back yourself, no matter what you are trying to achieve then you can come close to, if not achieve beyond what you set out or intended to and I think that’s one thing that this band has always done, is back ourselves 110%, no matter what the cost or the risks involved.

Jon: If you don’t back yourself, who else is going to?

Adrian: I feel that the fact that we’ve been so behind what we are doing has helped us a lot, we’ve all been so confident, dedicated and committed to what we are doing, that I feel that what’s happening now is testament to that work we put in. You only get out what you put in, so everything we are achieving now is pay-off for the work we’ve put in.

UTG: That aura of positivity and self-belief is something that really cuts through in your music and your live performance, do you think this is something that helps you stand out from some of the other bands playing this type of music, and is it something that you are deliberately trying to push or does it just come naturally?

Nic: I think it’s a natural thing. I mean we want it, and it is something we have tried to focus on when we’re writing, but it comes from a very natural place for us. Metal is a genre that is usually seen as being dark and demonic, but we’re not like that, we want to break that stereotype. We’re just easy-going, fun-loving, positive guys who happen to enjoy living life and enjoy metal, and I think that is something that we’ve been able to put across in our lyrics and in our artwork and our music.

Adrian: I think that metal itself is such a powerful musical medium and that you don’t necessarily have to use that for the purposes of being dark or negative or even too crazily left-wing, I think you can harness the power of the music and couple it with a positive or life-affirming message and achieve something much more worthwhile and memorable.

UTG: As a band, it’s a well known fact that you backed yourselves to the point of great personal sacrifice to get your first record made, you all lost jobs, dropped out of university courses and one of you even got kicked out of home, and you didn’t even so much as have a label to show for it at the end of it all, yet you persevered. Is that kind of display self-belief something that you would encourage other musicians to do?

Adrian: Definitely, you should be willing to give up everything and anything for a shot at achieving your dream.

Nic: If you believe in the music you are writing, if you truly believe in it and you want it, not just kind of want it, but really want it, then definitely, because the pay-off is so rewarding once the sacrifices have been made.

UTG: I suppose this is an important question, after all that sacrifice and all that time together in vans, plains, trains and on floors, do you all still like each other?

Adrian: I feel like we’ve grown even closer, especially over the last 12 months.

Nic: I feel like we definitely grow closer and closer each day, with each new shared experience and each new adventure, even with each argument.

Jon: We have bumped heads, we do bump heads, but at the end of the day all it does is make us like and respect each other more. This band really, truly has become an extension of our family and nothing will ever get between any of us.

UTG: Speaking of family, you guys have been on the road constantly from a young age, you probably miss your siblings and parents, so I guess that leads me to ask, are they here? Because surely playing the Big Day Out in your hometown would be like the ultimate “Look, mum, I made it” moment, or in your case Adrian, “Look, mum, I told you I was right” moment?

[Laughter]

Nic: My mum and dad and my sister all bought tickets for today/ I would have liked to have gotten them on a door spot, but before I even had a chance to organise it, they had bought tickets, which was surprising to me — thrilling but surprising. I think it’s really important that we get the chance to repay the faith they showed in us, because I don’t think Northlane the band would be here without the support of our parents, once they saw we were dead serious about doing this, they’ve been incredibly supportive, understanding and accommodating and they’re as much a part of this as anyone else, so to be able to share this experience with them is huge moment for us.

Adrian: My parents have been to a few of our shows in the past and so have Jon’s, and they’re all very proud parents. Now of course they don’t really understand the music quite as well as we do or our fans do, but that doesn’t make them any less passionate or any less proud of what we do and we really couldn’t be thankful enough.

UTG: Just getting back to the Big Day Out a bit, what is something that people who are attending the shows who have not seen or heard Northlane before can expect from the sets that they won’t get from any other band on the bill?

Adrian: I guess they’ll get a different level of intensity, a different kind of music and a different kind of live performance to what they might see from the rest of the acts on this bill. We’re really into crowd participation and getting people bouncing up and down and having fun and just losing themselves in the music for the duration of our set, so I think that is a different experience we can bring to those that haven’t seen or heard of us before, or know what we’re about. We’re very lively on stage as well, so if you want to see a bunch of crazy maniacs running wild on stage and just giving our all, instead of just staring at the ground like a couple of statues which you might see at other sets during the day, then we’re definitely the band you should check out for your energy fix.

UTG: Under The Gun Review is based in the USA, when can fans stateside expect to see you touring next?

Adrian: February, we’re doing 10 headline shows across the country and then we’re supporting Bring Me The Horizon on the second half of their major headlining tour, playing all of the east coast dates, so that should be yet another amazing experience for us, getting to play a good mixture of small club shows ourselves and then the biggest venues we’ve ever played with Bring Me The Horizon, so if fans are coming to our headline shows, or are thinking of heading in early to catch us at the Bring Me The Horizon shows, then we’d love the opportunity to play for and then meet them. We promise we’ll make it entertaining.

Northlane are: Jon Deiley – Guitar, Adrian Fitipaldes – Vocals, Alex Milovic – Bass, Josh Smith – Guitar and Nic Pettersen – Drums.

 


An hour after this interview wrapped up, I was fortunate enough to witness Northlane absolutely kill it in front of a very active and appreciative hometown audience, that served as fitting farewell to a year well lived. The perseverance, passion and self-belief this band has shown to get to this stage is inspiring stuff and I would strongly encourage any US based readers to get out to a show and see how this little Australian band that could goes about their business; it’ll be well worth the effort.

Catch Northlane at the Big Day Out

FRIDAY JANUARY 31, BONYTHON PARK (Adelaide)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2, ARENA JOONDALUP (Perth)

Tickets from  http://www.bigdayout.com

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