The Rock City archives: 2014

Lower Than Atlantis, Rock City (Basement)

  • Tuesday 22nd July 2014
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As Lower Than Atlantis wound down the campaign for their third album, Changing Tune, the band found themselves at something of a crossroads.

To the outside world, Changing Tune – LTA’s 2012 major label debut – had been the breakthrough record for this most beloved of British rock bands. It cracked the UK Top 30, helped the band fill venues the size of Shepherd’s Bush Empire with delirious fans, made waves in America and established frontman Mike Duce as that rarest of rockstar breeds: one in possession of equal amounts of mouth and trousers.

But, behind the scenes, things looked less rosy. Changes at their label saw LTA – always slightly surprised to find themselves on a major – returned to independence, albeit with a few quid in their back pockets for their trouble.

But weighing heavier on the band’s collective mindset was the thought of exactly where their lives were going. Mike was dealing with a relationship break-up and, as LTA – completed by guitarist Ben Sansom, drummer Eddy Thrower and bassist Dec Hart – entered their mid-twenties contemplating what looked like a return to rock career square one, many of their friends and peers were settling down with steady jobs and young families.

“We were thinking, ‘Do we want that?’” admits Mike. “‘Cos if we do, now’s the time to probably call it a day…”

Thankfully, Mike had been in this sort of situation before. Before he formed Lower Than Atlantis in 2007, he worked as a labourer. His boss would regularly offer to pay for him to go to college and get his bricklaying qualifications. Equally regularly, Mike would turn him down.

“I needed a shit job that I hated and paid me fuck all, to give me the drive to do what I actually wanted to do,” he says. “I lost some of that drive along the way, but now I had something to prove again…”

And Lower Than Atlantis’ fourth, self-titled album provides all the evidence Mike’s ex-girlfriend, former label and the wider world will ever need that this is a band about to take a major step up. The band invested their post-major label exit windfall into their studio and into self-financing another album and Mike – who had already been honing his writing skills composing for pop acts such as Five Seconds Of Summer (their #1 hit), an X Factor contestant and more to come– set about constructing the songs that will, in his words, make them or break them.

“We treated this album as if it was going to be our last,” he says, conviction pulsing through his every syllable. “We threw caution to the wind and thought, ‘Fuck it, we’ll just make an album that we want to make’. It’s probably our last shot. If things don’t go big, then I guess we probably will think about calling it a day…”

Fortunately, the band shouldn’t have to worry about that for long. Recording at their own pace in their own studio in Watford, and re-teaming with producer (and Mike’s non-LTA songwriting partner) Dan Lancaster, who had helmed the band’s much-cherished 2010 Far Q debut, Mike turned emotional and vocational uncertainty into LTA’s most convincing set of songs yet.

So Lower Than Atlantis positively fizzes with musical ambition, lyrical wit, crossover potential and carpe diem spirit. And songs, brilliant songs. From the us-against-the-world bravado of English Kids In America (likely to become the anthem for any homegrown gang touring the US) to the reflective closer ‘Number One’, Lower Than Atlantis is the sound of a band determined to give everything they’ve got in search of glory. It’s reflective of a band who’ve grown up (“I’m 25,” says Mike, “It’s time to stop acting like a fucking child – I’m definitely less of a nutter”) without growing old (“Don’t worry,” says Mike, “I won’t stop being mouthy – I calls them as I sees them”).

And, whether you’re looking for brilliantly accessible rock anthems (Emily, Here We Go) or heartbreakingly direct break-up songs (Ain’t No Friend Of Mine), LTA delivers. Mike unflinchingly documents his unhappy experiences, both professional (Criminal) and personal (Words Don’t Come So Easily), but in a way that anyone and everyone will relate to. And, just as his lyrics have become more universal, and as LTA’s melodies reach peaks of infectiousness rarely scaled by punk rock geezers from Watford, so the band’s musical palate has expanded.

“There’s only so far you can go with four blokes playing guitars, bass and drums,” smiles Mike. “And now was the time to do whatever the fuck we wanted.”

Consequently, an electronic edge snakes through the album, while the addition of strings, dance beats and even – at one stage – some convincing neo-rapping elevates LTA far above most of their rock peers.

And that’s exactly where Lower Than Atlantis, after a year of teetering on the brink of oblivion, want to be. Buoyed by a new label deal with Jamie Osman’s Sony-affiliated Easy Life Records, Mike may be reluctant to define his commercial aspirations for this album, but his determination to make a genuine impact is stamped on every one of its 12 songs.

“I know this sounds really egotistical,” he grins, “But I would hate my existence on this planet to just be another cog helping society tick over. I need to leave some sort of mark or imprint, otherwise I might as well just not be alive.”

And against all odds, LTA aren’t just alive, but kicking harder than Solange Knowles in a Met Ball elevator. And, with the rock album of the summer under their belts, Lower Than Atlantis are finally ready to go higher than the sun.

 

 

LOWER THAN ATLANTIS ARE:

Mike Duce - Vocals / Guitar

Ben Sansom - Guitar

Eddy Thrower - Drums

Dec Hart – Bass

 

http://www.lowerthanatlantis.com/

https://www.facebook.com/lowerthanatlantis

http://twitter.com/LTAmusic

 

DISCOGRAPHY

FAR Q- 2010

WORLD RECORD - 2011

CHANGING TUNE - 2012

LOWER THAN ATLANTIS -2014

 

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