Lonely The Brave: Our music's a journey, we have no idea where it's going
Alt.rock quintet Lonely The Brave join us for a chat about their new album Things Will Matter (Redux), how to create art from the past and why their music is constantly evolving
Cambridge-based fivepiece Lonely The Brave have made a career from doing things their own way, and latest album Things Will Matter (Redux) is no different. Carrying on in the same vein as their debut album The Day's War – which the band remixed and re-released shortly after it came out – Things Will Matter (Redux) takes each of the songs from their 2016 release of the same name and reimagines them completely. Indie pop morphs into haunting, ethereal soundscapes, while anthemic studio rock succumbs to its industrial electro-rock counterpart. They're like the same songs, but also not at all the same songs. It makes sense when you hear it, trust us.
Below, we have a chat with guitarist Mark Trotter about the new album and what the band have in their sights for next.
What’s behind the decision to revisit your albums in this way?
“Initially, the first one was because there was such a delay in getting the first record out that we felt that a lot of the songs would have probably ended up quite different from how we actually ended up recording them if we’d had written them then. There was probably a couple of years between the record being written and recorded and it finally making its way out. It was a bit of a conscious decision from all of us. We’re all into such different music generally that it was just an interesting thing to try and do. Because it’s such different music, and it means different things, we like the idea of not having to have just one definitive version. That’s the tried and tested manner in which we all know and love music, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The idea that you can have multiple versions of essentially the same thing is quite interesting."
What’s the appeal of revisiting the songs rather than writing new material?
"We’re not probably in the right headspace right now – or then, certainly – to write a new album. That would’ve been really, really quick after the last record we just did. We need time to make sure it’s right. That’s the fundamental thing for us – for a ‘normal’ Lonely The Brave album, we want it to be a recording that we’re happy with, we’re not just going to slam something out for the sake of it. The Redux stuff gives us time to explore and do fun things and enjoy what we do musically, while working out what we’re going to do with the new record."
Do you guys view this as a new album?
"Yeah, I guess so – I would say it would stand up by itself, you don’t have to know the original versions of the record to understand this one. I think if you do know the original it’s interesting because it obviously is very different; some of the structures are very different, all the instrumentation is different all the way through, so if you do know the original it’s probably quite interesting to compare and contrast the two. If you don’t, it’s kind of not relevant in some respects, because they are just completely different; it’s a different record. So it can be enjoyed on its own merits – I hope, anyway!"
What would you say the fundamental differences between the two albums are?
"Really it’s more instrumentation and structures. If you wanted to pigeonhole stuff, I guess you’d call Lonely The Brave a “rock band”, in inverted commas, but that doesn’t always allow the opportunity for the other types of music that we love. So the Redux is more of an exploration and indulgence of the other things we like to do. We all really love old synths and old equipment that we can tinker with and mess around with. They’re unreliable, and can be really grouchy – they mess around and do bad things, and that’s kind of what excites me about them. So it’s fun to indulge that and do something a bit different."
It includes the first recorded version of Things Will Matter – what made you decide to include it on this redux?
"It’s funny, actually, because it’s not the first recorded version of that track. It’s the first properly released version, but the track is hidden somewhere on one of the very first EPs we did as a band, so if anyone has a copy of that they might be able to find it. It’s one of the oldest songs we had as a band but it never found its place anywhere. It didn’t seem to fit right with The Day’s War, it wasn’t the right track for that album we didn’t think. Obviously Days Will Matter, the title was used for the second record but again the actual feel of the record overall didn’t seem to fit correctly. So it felt like it found its home on the Redux record. It provides a link between the two records as well – and actually it’s a nice link across everything we’ve ever done as a band and how far we’ve come."
What was your favourite part of revisiting the album?
"I enjoyed the process – I'm a real geek when it comes to instruments, so I love smashing around with equipment and guitars and synths and stuff, that really interests me. But the actual process of the recording, it wasn’t particularly enjoyable because of the way we had to do it – time constraints, financial constraints. It wasn’t the most enjoyable of experiences if I’m honest, and it wouldn’t be my preference of how we would record as a band, so it’s a difficult one on that front. On the songs, Strange Like I is a really good example of one that just took a different life completely. It just went where it wanted to go and ended up in some mass sprawling Blade Runner-esque, bizarre version of what was originally there, which was kind of the point. That’s the exciting thing, really, that it can go from essentially what is quite a poppy little song to something so different. When we were originally tinkering with that, I think it was [the band's bassist] Bushen that started the instrumentation process on that one. We were messing around with it at my home studio, then going in and recording and watching it develop and grow and grow and grow… it’s a satisfying thing."
What have you guys been up to since the last album?
"Thinking about what the hell we’re going to do! It’s a funny one – you release a record, you have an album cycle of probably two years, you go and tour it around the world and it’s all good, but in that time you’ve got to write the next one and carry on. A band of our size, we’re constantly reminded ‘You’ve got to keep momentum, you’ve got to keep writing’. And yeah, okay, I get that, but there’s no point slamming records out for the sake of it and not being happy with what you’re doing; that would be awful. Our next record has to be really special. It has to really hit home and really work, and that’s going to take time, simple as that. We don’t ever discuss what we’re going to do or how we’re going to sound, it’s never been our way. We used to just get in a room, play and see what came out on the first couple of records, but I think things are changing, [we’re] evolving as a band as we all get older. It’s an interesting time."
What’s next for Lonely The Brave?
"Good question. Honestly, I don’t know. I think we’re all still in this vortex of spinning chaos thinking about this next record and what we’re going to do. But I think that’s probably all being done on an individual basis – we don’t meet up and talk about this stuff, it’s not how we’ve ever operated and I don’t think we ever will. It’d be good to get out and start playing some shows again next year – we purposefully took this year off after spending the last four or five years constantly in each other’s pockets in vans around Europe. Normal life has to take its turn at points as well. It’s a journey; I have no idea where it’s going."
Lonely The Brave's new album Things Will Matter (Redux) is available now via Hassle Records.