‘We just love writing songs, it’s an outlet for us’: An interview with Lonely the Brave (27/11/14)

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Even before the release of their debut album A Days War, Lonely the Brave have lept onto the music scene with their emotive songs frequently receiving airtime on national radio. Here I speak to Guitarist Mark Trotter on the band’s rise.

It’s been a massive year for the band, the fact that you’ve been supported by the likes of Zane Lowe and Daniel P Carter has to be a proud thing for you?

Yeah it’s been amazing, Radio 1 generally have massively supported us from day one with our band, which has been incredible for us. When we first started the band we got offered to do a live lounge session for Dan P Carter and the Radio 1 Rock Show at Maida Vale – you couldn’t ask for more really.

Who are the best acts you’ve shared a stage with at festivals?

In the last year we’ve played with some of the biggest names you can think of, our heroes. We did a show with Deftones in Paris which was massively special for us – we’re all huge fans so that was great.  ‘The boss’ as he’s called (Bruce) Springsteen was amazing with his band too. It’s pretty bonkers, if you’d have told us we’d have been here 18 months ago we’d have thought you were mental! We’re very lucky!

You must be delighted that your record has finally been released?

Yeah we’re just grateful that it’s finally out. We were sat on that record for a long time, just desperate for people to hear it. You can tell the difference when we play shows and people know the words! What was really spooky is before we even put the record out people were singing the songs back – we were like “how do you know these songs?!” It’s freaky man, it’s just a real privilege to have a record out finally.

Great to hear, have you got any embarrassing tour moments yet?

Yeah loads! How many do you want?!

Any suitable for an interview?

Yeah I can give you a nice subtle one! We were doing a couple of shows in Holland and two nights in a row for no apparent reason I fell over on the set. The first one wasn’t too bad I kinda fell backwards into the drums, while we were playing. The next night was pretty catastrophic, I think I fell over Dave’s mike stand in the middle of one of our songs. Ended up going backwards through the drums, knocked all the cymbals and microphones over – then spun off out while trying to get up and then fell backwards through my amp and led there in a crumpled mess at the side of the stage, still trying to play the song! The rest of the band just looked at me like “what are you doing?!” Yeah I had no idea…

That’s not on video anywhere is it?

You know what I hope it is, because it must be brilliant to watch this massive ginger idiot falling through everything! So yeah that was pretty ‘special’!

So yesterday tickets went on sale for your biggest headline tour to date (early 2015), should be great to be back playing your own gigs again?

I hope so man, looking forward to getting back out under our name. It’s great playing with other bands and touring with them – we’ve just come back from a joint tour with Marmozets – but to get back out there on our own is a massive thing for us. A few years ago we’d be selling a couple hundred tickets in Cambridge and being grateful for it. Now to know we can go to pretty much any town in the UK and know people will come to hear us play is pretty amazing – we’re very lucky and privileged to be in that position.

One thing that I’ve noticed with your band is that your music videos seem to convey the story behind the music more than any others?

Yeah I mean we’re really careful and conscious of it. All the songs have a narrative, a story that goes along with it – I think the videos have to reflect that. The last two have been done by a guy called Greg Davenport who gets it, he’s just really sympathetic with the song and helps expand the ideas behind it aswell. With the last one ‘The Blue, The Green’, to be honest when the idea came through I was really worried about it actually – I didn’t want us to be seen as though we were taking on the world’s problems. If it hadn’t have been done right, it could’ve been really insensitive. But he’s a great director, a really clever guy, and his take on things was perfect, he treads that line perfectly between real & emotional and then over the top & cheesy almost.

Recently Taylor Swift decided to take her music down from Spotify as she felt her ‘art’ should have a value. What do you think about that, are you a fan of sites such as Spotify?

It’s a really interesting point, there’s been a lot of backlash about it saying ‘it’s all well and good for you because you’ve got a massive profile, you don’t need their support’. There’s arguments for and against for both really; bands get paid nothing via streaming services but at the same time your music has a much wider audience and if you’re a band like us who’s trying to break through and get somewhere that can be a really helpful way of doing it. So nothing against her, she has got the profile and power to do it so why not. There’s definitely a point there, trying to say her art has a value, absolutely. Some bands can’t survive though and a lot of that does unfortunately come down to people stealing music – people used to record things off the radio using a tape so although it’s easier to do nowadays it’s always happened!

As you’ve said though, streaming sites are a great help for smaller bands/artists to get known in the industry?

Yeah we’ve had messages from all over the world, like ‘come to Istanbul’, from people who will have probably heard of us through streaming sites, so there’s definitely plus and minus points to everything.

Back touring again soon after a small break then, looking forward to your tour with Deaf Havana next month!

Yeah we’re looking forward to it too man, they’re good guys and from our way too, should be good fun. Cambridge on the 13th (of December) for our homecoming Christmas show that we tend to do every year.

You going to dress up yeah?

Oh yeah yeah I’ll dress up as a massive ginger elf!

Finally, if you had to sum up Lonely the Brave in a few sentences to someone who’d never heard of you, how would you do that?

Oh man that’s tough one! It’s like when people ask to describe our music, it’s really tough as obviously it’s quite varied. I would just say an honest heartfelt band that will give you everything they’ve got, that’s the best way of putting it. Honest songs about things that have happened to us, that’s it – there’ no smoke and mirrors, it’s just five guys playing as hard as they can giving as much as they can every night. No gimmicks or anything, not even sure I know how to to be honest! We just love writing songs, it’s an outlet for us.

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Muse-worshiping, F1-career-aiming Aeronautics student.

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