By Kristin Hay (@kristinhayCS)
“So, tell me how the self-titled record helped you in coming into ‘Sound of Silence’,” I ask.
Shit – that’s not the name of his album. Classic Bridget Jones-esque cock up.
Mike Duce, lead singer of Lower than Atlantis, laughs. He is heading out to see his friend’s band tonight and had forgotten about our phone interview. He is easy going and immediately I feel myself relax. I can tell this is going to be a great chat with one of Britain’s hottest bands.
Hitting us full-force with their fan-favourite album World Record in 2011, Lower Than Atlantis were tipped as a band on the rise, mixing smooth guitar tones with classic rock riffs and choruses that you’d be humming all day long after one listen.
After releasing their monumental self-titled album in 2014, Lower than Atlantis firmly established themselves as a rock band who were a cut above the rest; an experience that left the fans reeling for more, but the band a little bit worse for wear. “With the self-titled album, we were planning on breaking up…There was a couple of songs that I’d written and we were like ‘fuck it man let’s just chuck it on an album’…and yeah if other people got it great, if not fuck ‘em.”
Unexpectedly for the lads, the album was their most critically-acclaimed: “It was our most successful to date…we sold out Roundhouse…so we were like, ‘fuck, lets stick it out it seems like we’re doing alright.’”
“Alright” was the most underrated statement of the whole interview. Their self-titled album elevated the band to the main stage of Reading and Leeds festival and tour across Europe with British rockers You Me At Six in late 2016. Having felt so unsure and unsteady on their feet on the last record, its success had a huge impact on the writing of their new album, Safe in Sound.
“It helped us see what we wanted as a band, it was the heavier stuff that was well-received…so we looked through our back catalogue and ‘em, this album is kind of like our greatest hits album but with new songs.”
Learning about the band’s inward struggles on the self-titled album adds a new depth to Safe in Sound. At an obvious level, the title itself shows the bands newfound comfort in an industry they had been chipping away at for the past 10 years. With catchy hits like Boomerang and Had Enough, into heavier tracks like I Would, there is an element of “fuck it” throughout. It’s an album for them: It’s fun, nostalgic and has set them up for a headline UK tour.
“It’s the longest set we have ever played, we all take it a lot more seriously now. We’re playing stuff we’ve never played before and, also – we should have been doing this anyway – but we’ve been rehearsing an arse-load. The venues are bigger too so we’ve got some cool production stuff that we’ve never done before!”
Looking at the success of Lower Than Atlantis, it’s natural to feel a bit excited by the sheer talent available on this side of the Atlantic. With British rock getting more attention than ever, it’s refreshing to see a band get the attention they deserve. However, when asked about the state of rock music at the minute, Duce revealed his favourites: Himself, of course.
“I’m like my own band’s biggest fan, I just listen to our entire discography, and we have a million demos of new songs that I’m listening to. It’s a bit cringe. Being in a band for so long and the bullshit we’ve had to go through…we wouldn’t have been doing that if we didn’t want to be the biggest band in the world. All we can do is make the best music we can and playing the best we can and being the best people we can and hopefully the stars will align…otherwise we’ll kill ourselves.”
For some lead singers, a statement like that would come off as arrogant, but not Duce. He speaks as a man who loves what he does and has seen his dream nearly slip through his fingers. I can’t help but feel a sense of joy hearing how passionate he is about what Lower Than Atlantis has accomplished. A rare gem in the music industry, a group of gents who love to make music, have fun and hope that is enough for them to make it – and for Lower Than Atlantis, I reckon that’s plenty.
Their new album Safe in Sound is out now via Red Essential records.