Leon: Ever since my brother and I were kids we were obsessed with soundtracks, the darker the better! Ulysses 31, Terminator, The Matrix. Bringing this ‘soundtrack’ genre into the melting pot with electronic rock and working with Dan Weller of Sikh certainly makes us sound different to thousands of other bands... whether you should listen to us or not is up to you. Depends how dark you like your sauce.
2. Name 3 bands you think your music is comparable to
Nine Inch Nails
3. Tell us about your latest release, how do you describe it and where can we purchase it?
South is an honest and sort of unglamorous song about sinking into depression. Something that most of us try to sweep under the rug ,wearing a smile. I was either going to quit being in a band or, for the first time, sing about what had happened to me in secret for the past few years. Yes it’s a bit selfish and yes it’s about a personal experience of mental health issues but to hell with my anxieties, this is a fucking battle cry... the way I see it, as a fan of alternative music it was through hearing songs like ‘Hurt’ by NIN or ‘Living is a problem because everything dies’ by Biffy Clyro that made me realise I wasn’t alone with these dark thoughts.
And maybe, even if we’re 1000th down on someone’s playlist ‘South’ may too.
It will be available 20th Sep 19 from iTunes and you can throw it into your Spotify playlist on the same day.
4. Do you have any video’s and where can we see them? Do you think videos are important any longer?
Yeah videos are still important, I watch my favourite bands videos on YouTube all the time. Nobody really watches things like Scuzz or Kerrang TV any more so it’s giving artists back the power to get creative and do something special for their fans.
There's coordinates on the single cover for South that correlate to a real life location. A giant Triangular, metallic structure in the middle of the Solway Firth (yes, the Slipknot song), which is visible on the Scottish coastline where we grew up.
This structure that rose from the sea bed was to be visible by aircraft as during the war it was used by the military to practice dropping bombs on.
At this location the ocean floor is completely flat for miles and when the tide draws out you can walk out on the desolate mud plain to the structure. This is where we filmed the video for South.
It was also the inspiration for the pre-chorus lyric ‘on fire in the ocean’
5. At one time you could believe that your music was enough , Your live show was enough. Now that you know the reality of the music business what would YOU change to make it more fair to the artist?
As far as I can see there is no consistent reality to the music business, it’s the most surreal, dynamic, uncertain, viscous blob with no real obvious shape.
It’s like, we’re all in elementary school again and one day you do something you think is funny that miraculously makes your whole class laugh. Now, you’re king of the world, even the cool kids laughed, you slayed it! Then the next day, you piss your pants, different kind of laugh today, and a 10ft radius.
Nah, it’s not fair and it’s never gonna be. Just try not to piss your pants.
6. You’ve spent tons of money on gear , spent thousands of hours rehearsing and putting everything into your dream. What level of success will you consider “making it”?
I think people used think your band had ‘made it’ if they have an album out on a label, or a sell out tour, or the cover of a magazine or something.
If I’m to define it, ‘Making it’ probably means walking off whatever stage you’ve just played and thinking to yourself, that felt right.
There's always a bigger fish and there’s no damn way it’s based on how much money you pull in any more. I know guys in big bands who make less from tours and merch than tiny ones make from computer game syncs and vice versa.
7. Have you been on the road? Would you like to tour? And with who?
Yes, enough to know it’s pretty gruelling. We played our first international shows with North Atlas this year. We were in France during a heatwave, which sounds nice but travelling around in a van filled up with a restless Scottish band and crew can get pretty warm.
We’re all pretty close so none of us fell out too much. We’re going out again soon and I actually can’t wait.
Would be a bit of a dream to go out on the road with Enter Shikari. We have the same producer and I reckon there’s a lot we can learn from an electronic, but still heavy band like that.
8. You get 5 members build your dream band and go.
(I feel pretty damn lucky to have the line-up we have in North Atlas. Like most bands we went through several iterations to begin with and although technically incredible players we didn’t share an artistic vision.)
As far as a fantasy-dinner-party style band would go:
Guitar: Tom Morello
Electronics : Trent Reznor
Bass : James Johnston (Biffy)
Drums : Josh Dunn
Lead vocals : Lady Gaga
They’d sound like an angry Queen
9. Do you know about the business side of music? Do you think the business side or the entertainment side is more important?
As artists, naturally the entertainment side is our main focus, but we are close with our management and often have the pleasure of discussing the symbiotic relationship between art and business. Both take a lot of dedication and talent and that’s something to be heavily and humbly respected. Go team.
10. What is it about your live show that will make a person remember you?
We’re quite hairy.
11.Your partner , Your family , Your friends are all going to lie to you and tell you that you are awesome, it’s just how the game works. So who do you trust to tell you the truth?
There’s no right answer to what is awesome or not. Some bands skirt closer to the Marmite metaphor than others. I think Björk is incredible, whereas if I was Justin Bieber's Mum I’d tell him he was shit, others might disagree.
The only persons opinion on your artistic direction you should trust is the people in your own band.
12.What constitutes kicking a member out of a band?
There’s an infinite list of fucked up things people can pull but the toughest thing to do is to be in a band with people who don’t live and breathe it with you, people who’ll cut corners and cheap out at every opportunity. The person who will always put a stable job before music, take the inflexible 9-5er and expect everyone else to work around them because they need to be able to afford that extra week in Ibiza, whilst the rest of the members hustle for a humbler living so they can do what needs to be done musically. That really gets under my skin man. Be in a band if you want to be in a band, go work overtime in an office if you want to make bank! The best lineups are birds of a feather.
13. How do you feel about political beliefs inside the band? What if one of your members wanted to wear a pro trump shirt live?
As we’re all Scottish that would be very unlikely, and as Scots we tend to dislike most politicians anyway. Look up the news story about the wee Scottish guy that refused to sell his house next to Turnberry (Trump's golf course in Scotland) to Trump to expand the course. Now he puts up a giant Mexican flag every time he knows he’s going to be there.
14. There are a number of bands and artist out there who are gay or lgbtq+, would you support one of your members changing gender?
A big part of why I sing for a band like North Atlas is to encourage myself and others to be yourself, honest and unapologetically. We often have to deal with feeling like we aren't correct, inside or out, and we need the support of our peers. A song like South embodies this sentiment in its purest form, ‘sound the battle cry, for the ones like us’
15. Many people consider metal music and metal fans to be racist. Share your opinions, including would you allow racism in your band if the member was talented enough?
In Scotland particularly I’ve found most metal fans to be inclusive. Friendly neighbourhood Moshers with red hair.
That being said, I fucking hate racism and sexism in any form, regardless of who it’s directed towards. I make my angry self's opinion on that subject clear pretty often. So anyone with a prejudice of sorts tends to not like spending much time around us.
16.I am pushing boundaries for a reason, rock n roll is rebellion, sex and drugs but things have changed. Will you stay true to yourself even if it means leaving the band and giving up your dreams?
17. Let’s lighten up, If you could get on stage with any band who would it be?
Nine Inch Nails. Shit would be dark.
18. I want you to say something you know will be controversial that you are willing to stand up for.
Chinese Democracy was awesome. Nothing on Appetite for Destruction (obviously) but listen to it again, seriously.