INTERVIEW: Lanterns On The Lake | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It has been just over two years since Lanterns On The Lake released the critically acclaimed album Until The Colours Run. You may think that the band used the time for a well-earned rest, but you’d be wrong. They returned home after their European and North American tour and in February 2014 began work on new album Beings, recording it in their rehearsal room in Newcastle.

I asked singer Hazel Wilde if the album was at all influenced by home. “We started work on Beings pretty much the week we got back from a long tour. We were wiped out and going through all these weird emotions for all kinds of reasons. That room was our sanctuary and it was like we’d been away for ages, seen all these places, gone through all this stuff but now we were home and back to doing what mattered to us. I think you’re always going to be influenced by your surroundings and where you grew up, but never more so than when you’ve been away from all of that, to come back to realise how much it’s a part of you.”

Beings is searching for meaning in a shallow society; it’s a frustration with how things can seem; it’s giving up and then pulling it back from the brink and laughing about it

This period of songwriting proved to be a productive one, and “the ideas came effortlessly and in abundance.” Hazel offers an insight into their creative process: “Sometimes a song will start its life as a melody, guitar line or a few chords. Other times I might take a more fully formed song to the band and we’ll flesh it out together. I think one of the dangers of us working in such a closed off way is that we can occasionally obsess over a song or even just a small aspect of a song for days – weeks in some cases. Other times, it can be easy – a song can roll out and fall into place in the three or four minutes that it takes to play it.”

Beings is a meticulously crafted album which creates a cinematic soundscape drenched in ambience; its ever shifting mood and dynamics offer an experience akin to a film soundtrack. I ask Hazel what movie/TV show it could feature in. “I think it would have to be pretty dark; beautiful, but sinister with some quirkier moments. Maybe something like Donnie Darko meets Magnolia.” This perfectly sums up the album and this sinisterness is heard from the off with Of Dust And Matter setting the scene. Hazel’s captivatingly sombre vocal rests amongst a marching piano, whining feedback and a velvety carpet of static, exuding a nihilistic air of cynicism. “Beings is searching for meaning in a shallow society; it’s a frustration with how things can seem; it’s giving up and then pulling it back from the brink and laughing about it.” You know instantly that this album is different to previous releases, but the album is not all darkness and misery as Hazel is quick to point out. “I’d agree it’s darker than our previous work at times, but not always. It’s also about love, music, friends and all the things that really matter. In the past I might have been afraid to go too far with songs because there’s this idea that music should serve to entertain, and it’s un-cool to take things too seriously. Nowadays I take the view that it’s our music and we can take it wherever we like, as long as it’s not fake.”

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The album takes you on an intricate journey of emotion from the angry Gothic carnival of I’ll Stall Them and the pulsating anti-austerity song Faultlines, to the uplifting fuzzy guitar-filled, indie pop feel of Through The Cellar Door and the weary, electronically experimental Stepping Down. This, Hazel believes, could be due to the amount of time they spent on writing and recording. “It’s funny because you can start a record with a certain mindset and by the time you get to the last song you’re almost a different person. Sometimes you can hear that in records – the journey that the band has gone through.”

Guitarist Paul Gregory’s production of the album adds an extra dimension and shapes the overall sound, with a style reminiscent of Radiohead and The Boxer Rebellion. Hazel tells me just how important it is to have him behind the mixing desk. “The way Paul mixes is an art form in itself and it’s a huge part of the band and how we craft our songs. He has grown with each record as a producer and I suppose because he’s never been taught this stuff and he’s worked it out for himself, it’s meant that he’s developed his own unique sound and style. We treat the production like we would an instrument in the band; it allows us to explore all kinds of ideas.”

The band head out on tour this year, but they’re leaving their home town show until Saturday 6th February, and are planning a very special performance at Sage Gateshead. I asked what people could expect from a live Lanterns On The Lake show. “Us, trying to remember how to play our old songs. At the home town Sage Gateshead show you can expect to see me standing in front of the Royal Northern Sinfonia wondering how on earth we got there and if they’ll notice that I don’t know all the names of any of the chords.”

Lanterns On The Lake release Beings on 13th November. They play Sage Gateshead on Saturday 6th February alongside Royal Northern Sinfonia.

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