Interview: Northlane

Photo by Wilk

Photo by Wilk

2017 has been a big year for Northlane. The metalcore quintet from Sydney, Australia have been touring relentlessly in support of their fourth album, Mesmer, which was released in late March of this year. I spoke with lead vocalist Marcus Bridge prior to their show in Calgary about the experience and emotions that went into making an album that marks another chapter for Northlane.

You’re more than halfway through your Canadian run with Intervals. How has the tour been so far? 

It’s been great, we have four shows left or something like that. The vibe’s been good - it’s always a great time coming through Canada. Coming back in the summer is always a lot of fun, and the shows have been mental. Not much more I could ask for.

Have there been any standout shows so far?

Toronto is always a standout. There are places in Canada and around the world that remind me of home and Toronto is one of those places. Every time we go through there it’s always very special.

How did the recording process for Mesmer differ from the recording of 2015’s Node?

This time around I think we were a lot more prepared. We worked with someone different [David Bendeth]. It was a different experience to work with another producer. He really tries to get the personal aspects of every song out of you, and also try and get the most emotion out of you for the song and for what the song needs. We’re very proud of how hard we worked, and I think it’s something we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without going to him. It’s a very important record to us.

Has there been an easy transition into playing the new material live, and overall positive reaction to it?  

I think another thing with Mesmer is that we wanted to make sure that these songs were gonna translate to playing them live. I think this time around we were able to figure out a pretty good balance in what to do. The response we’ve been getting has been overwhelmingly positive. Some of the newer songs have been going down better than some of the older songs. We’re so stoked with how it’s all been received.

That’s awesome because you never really want to be that band that people go see purely for their old stuff. It’s always nice when the new stuff gets an even better reaction. 

Absolutely. We love playing our old stuff, and it’s always gonna be apart of Northlane as a band, but we also love playing all of this new stuff. It’s getting really hard making setlists with the allotted amount of time to just pick a few songs off the album to play. We wanna play all of them, but obviously, it’s hard to do that.

The closing track on the album, “Paragon” was a tribute to Tom of Architects. What was writing that song like, and what has the response been?

That song for us as a band was very important to us, and something that we really needed to do. That song was written mostly by Josh and John - John had a big hand in how that song was set out. I never got to know Tom, unfortunately - I’ve met the guys from Architects since I’ve joined Northlane but I never really got to meet Tom. From everything I’ve heard from all of our friends in the music world, he was someone that was just very inspirational and important to a lot of people. Even not knowing him, just hearing stories of him and listening to his music, he’s very inspiring to me. We’ve paid tribute with our name obviously coming from an Architects song, and how important those guys are to us and how important their music is to us. The response we’ve been getting has been really good. It’s so clear how much Tom meant to so many people in the heavy music world, and it’s good to see so much positivity out of something so awful.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a songwriter? 

I think for myself it was quite a challenge to be able to be confident in breaking through in talking about more personal subjects. For a long time, I felt very nervous and a bit scared to present any of these deeper or more upsetting topics, just because I wasn’t sure if it was the right fit for the music. I just wasn’t really confident in it, but come Mesmer, it’s something that I’ve learned to just break through and touch on a bit more. That was something that David Bendeth really helped bring out in me. There were a couple of songs that were really hard to write, and hard to have a clear head when trying to write it. We sat down for a couple of days just talking about it and get to the core of it - all of these thoughts running through your head, as bad as they might be or as upsetting as they might be - I was able to have a clear head and write these songs how I wanted them to be. That was something that was very difficult.

Once you get that personal touch, that’s what makes you unique, and what makes a Northlane song a Northlane song. I think it’s awesome that you guys are able to do that because once the music stops being personal, it stops being real.

Even still with these personal songs, it’s not like we want them to be straightforward. One of the songs is about a relationship coming to an end, and another one is about someone passing away. We’re trying to present these songs in a way that you’re able to react to them even if it’s not exactly what you’ve dealt with. If you haven’t gone through a tough breakup, or whatever, it still could relate to a rough going in your life. It’s important to still have something that everyone can relate to.

This is Northlane’s fourth studio album, however, only the second with you as the vocalist. How do you feel that the band has changed since you’ve been apart of it?

I think we’ve all grown a lot since I’ve come into the band. When I came in, we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our sound. We had to go out and start making music and see what happened. This time around I think we’ve become more comfortable and a lot more sure of what we wanted to create with our music. We’ve become a lot more confident and a lot more focused with where we wanna head.

What’s next for Northlane?

We’re gonna keep touring. We’re always working on new music, but there’s no set date for anything really. After this Canadian run, we go to South America for a couple of shows, and then head home and play a few headlining shows back there. Then we’re off to Europe again at the end of the year. So it’s a few things scattered here and there, but it’s a lot of exciting stuff.

Mesmer is out now through UNFD. Click here to stream the record, or purchase a physical copy of the album here.