Lower than Atlantis have been through a mixed couple of years recently. On one hand, their popularity has exploded and they became darlings of the British rock scene. Their 2012 album ‘Changing Tune’ took them from being dependable to a band that not only cracked the Top 30 album chart, but also headlined famous venues such as the Shepard’s Bush Empire. On top of all that success, the band even started to make some inroads in the famously hard-to-crack American market. But behind the scenes the band were dealing with as many struggles as they were triumphs, with management and relationship issues dogging them while they attempted to enjoy their newfound success. However, never ones to let adversity get the better of them, Lower Than Atlantis have got back in the studio to record their new self-titled album. The Edge caught up with famously outspoken LTA frontman Mike Duce before the start of their tour for a chat about, among other things, how he started getting into music and his biggest pet peeve about the industry.
You recently headlined the live Radio 1 Rocks event. Did you enjoy it?
Oh yeah, absolutely! It was a real honour to be asked to play at something like that and the fact that we were asked to be headliners just made it even better. Radio 1 have been great to us actually, there was one point where we got played eleven times in one day. We were on every single show!
How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before?
Fucking brilliant! [laughs]I’m a little bit biased though, because I’m in the band! There’s a huge amount of genres and sub-genres going on when you’re talking about guitar music, so we usually just try and ignore all of that and say we’re a straight-up rock band. We basically make good British rock!
How did you first get into music?
My earliest memory of music is of me sitting in the back of my mum’s car, being driven to my friend’s house and ‘Message In a Bottle’ by The Police was on the radio and I was imagining that song being sung by a bunch of Rasta guys, not by Sting. I have no idea why, but that memory really sticks in my head! There was always music around when I was younger, and my mum used to sing to me a lot as well, so I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t into music.
Do you and the other Lower Than Atlantis guys have any kind of ultimate dream or goal for the band?
Obviously, something like being able to headline Wembley would be great, everybody who starts a band secretly hopes that one day they’ll be in the biggest band in the world. Realistically though, we’ve been in a band for 6 or 7 years now and we know how fortunate we are to be in a position where we can make a living from playing our music. That’s enough for us and at the moment we’re happy with that. Having said that though, Blink-182 are a huge inspiration for me, and they’re one of the reasons I play music, so getting to go on tour with them was just insane! Even now, looking back on that doesn’t feel real!
Have you ever had a weird or otherwise intense fan experience?
So many! I never really know what to do when someone cries, that’s always a bit of an awkward one! But at the same time, it’s pretty humbling to know that what I’ve written has touched someone like that. It’s also pretty awkward when 13-14 year old girl ask me to sign their chests! I’m really not comfortable with that stuff, I always respectfully decline! And then there’s the people that ask you to sign their shoes and proceed to dump a pair of absolutely rancid, festival-worn Converse in front of you! [laughs]
What do you do when you’re not touring or recording with Lower Than Atlantis?
I tend to do a bit of song writing for other bands and artists; at the moment I’m working with one of last year’s X factor finalists, I’m writing an album with him. I also wrote the B-side of the recent 5 Seconds of Summer single, which was a big hit, it got to Number One in loads of countries, so that was pretty exciting. Those are the two that I’ve worked with most recently.
You’re famously outspoken about lots of issues: what is your least favourite thing about the music industry?
Oh, it has to be the whole arse-kissing thing! I’ve never kissed a magazine’s arse or a promoter’s arse to get anywhere and I never will. I’m quite a straight-up person, that’s just who I am. I’ve always had the attitude that, if you like me and we get along that’s great, but if you don’t, then fuck off! [laughs]The rest of the guys in the band used to get annoyed at me for being outspoken when we started out, but I always said to them, ‘Listen lads, one day we’ll be big enough that they have to cover us!’ We’ve reached that point now and it feels great! Bands should be able to get places off their own backs, they shouldn’t have to kiss arse to get there.
What’s going to be different about the new album?
It’s definitely going to be a lot more accessible. It’s still Lower than Atlantis, but we had a lot more time to write and record this album, over a year, as opposed to writing and recording between tours in a matter of weeks as we’ve done before. There’s also a little bit of electronic element in this album which is different to what we’ve done before, and that’s pretty cool as well.
Lower than Atlantis’ self titled new album will be released on the 29th September 2014, and you can catch them on tour in the UK throughout July. Tickets are available here.