bite sat down with Lonely the Brave guitarist, Mark Trotter, ahead of their gig at the Marble Factory in Bristol to talk about their tour, writing and recording their upcoming album and being in a band.
How is it being back in Bristol? After playing festivals such as Reading and Leeds this summer, what’s it like being back in smaller venues?
It’s great! These shows have been really good fun. Bristol has always been good to us. We’ve never played here before so it’s a new one for us. Bristol is a great town with a great live scene so we’re looking forward to it.
Have you ever played with [support band]Black Peaks before this tour?
No, never played with them as our support before. It’s great, they’re lovely dudes – they’re a stupidly good band, so they make it easy by being lovely, lovely people.
Is there a release date for your next album?
It’ll be spring next year. There’ll be new music very early on in the New Year, but the plan is to release the album before festival season next year.
How far through are you with the writing of the next album?
The writing is all done – we are probably 95% of the way through recording it and we’ll be going back in January for a little while to put the finishing touches to it, so it should be done fairly shortly. I just can’t wait to get it out and to see what people make of it.
When you’re writing an album, do you find it to be a stressful experience or is it exciting?
A bit of both really. We work better under pressure, I guess. With writing, there is no magic formula… we don’t have any formula in the way that we work and the way that we write – there’s no formula and there is no plan, we just get into a room and play, and what comes out are the songs we end up recording.
Everyone’s got such massively different influences and it can be really stressful when everybody’s trying to get their point across, but generally things start off with a guitar idea and then we go from there. Sometimes you think that you have an idea of a whole structure of a song, and you bring it in and the whole thing changes.
Compared to ‘The Day’s War’, do you feel like the album is going in a new direction?
We wrote and recorded ‘The Day’s War’ as a four-piece and we’re now a five-piece with Ross in the band, so the dynamic has changed – much for the better! Being a bit selfish, having two guitars in the band takes some of the pressure off me.
It’s definitely different from the first record but not a massive departure from where we were, we’re trying out new ideas. I think it’s a good way of showing where we were, where we are and where we’re going to go.
With Ross in the band now, has the recording process changed?
No –from the day we met him, Ross has fitted in the hole perfectly. He’s an amazing guy and an amazing guitar player.
Does it become draining towards the end of the tour? Does it feel like a job?
Mark: It never feels like a job – if it feels like a job, you’re in the wrong game. We’re very, very lucky to do what we do, but that being said, there’s a lot to be done and we’re constantly travelling. There’s not a day off for this whole month, so you get tired and run down. That’s part of touring life – you have to look after yourself and each other.
When you’re touring as a band, does it bring you closer or do the arguments start?
It’s a bit of both, it doesn’t matter how friendly you are or how good mates you are, when you are in a sardine can travelling around Europe for a month solid, you’re going to have those moments. Generally we are all really good mates and we get on really well, so 90% of the time it’s fine; everyone has a blasting every so often!
After the first album and the festivals in the Summer, what motivates you as a band as you approach your second album?
Progression. We are completely different people to who we were when we wrote that first record. So much has happened since then, it was a good couple of years ago. Some of us have got married and had kids and everything else since then.
We weren’t signed when we wrote and recorded that first record. Now we’ve toured the world, been to some amazing places and met some amazing people. Everything you do has an influence on your writing and with the personal changes, that’s reflected in the record, certainly lyrically. It’s going to be an interesting one – I can’t wait to see what people make of it.
When recording the new album, are you thinking about the live sound or the sound of the songs as heard on record?
It’s a weird one – I have a real thing for making sure that the songs can be represented live. I know some bands don’t do that and it’s a cool way to work – I think some bands think ‘Let’s go for the ultimate version of this song and we’ll work out what the hell we do live’. I understand and appreciate that and perhaps, personally, that’s something I’d like to try later on, but in my own head I think, ‘If you can’t do it live with just the five guys in your band, then what the fuck are you doing it for?’ That’s the whole point as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to go see a band and listen to a 25 backing tracks of vocals and extra drum samples, not naming any names. That’s not my bag, I want to hear a band do what a band does.
What about your life in the band now is most different to what you expected when you started the band?
We were all working full-time jobs when we started this band, doing the band around that. To use the term ‘job’ is wrong, but this is our job and it’s what we do for a living. As I said earlier, it never feels like a job. Yes, it’s fucking hard work at times, but it’s great, we’re very lucky.
It’s all-consuming, like it was before, but then there were the day-to-day things that you had to do at the time which took priority unfortunately, in order to keep a roof over your head. Now it’s just all-consuming all the time. I go to sleep after gigs with songs going through my head, I wake up with songs in my head. It consumes every single part of you and your life and the others around you, too. It affects everybody, it’s not like you can leave it all behind come 5 o’clock.
If you can’t wait till next spring, soak up ‘The Day’s War’ in the meantime and get to know Lonely the Brave before festival season returns, so you can see for yourself if they are managing to “do what a band does” with the five guys they have.