Interview: Mark Trotter (Lonely The Brave)

Photo Credit: Unknown We recently had the wonderful opportunity of having a quick chat with Mark Trotter, guitarist for the sensational band Lonely The Brave ahead of their upcoming Things Will Matter (Redux) album release. Wanting to gather up as much info as we could without taking up too much of Marks time, we jumped straight into the questions to get the lowdown on everything currently going on with the ‘Brave boys.

Noizze: So you guys played your first show in about 6 months at the British Sound Project in Manchester recently, how was that for you getting back onstage and all that?

Mark: Something like that yeah I think the last one we played was probably June I think, which was Download (festival) in Paris, so it was good, I mean we were kind of joking that the whole show was a bit like an old school reunion because, pretty much every band on the bill we’ve toured with, some of them are really good friends of ours, Fatherson are really good friends of ours, they’ve supported us on tour before, we’ve toured with Deaf Havana, Mallory Knox and Twin Atlantic, so it was fun seeing all our old friends. We didn’t really have much chance to rehearse for it in the end so we kinda just did it, but it was fun to just remember why you get into music in the first place, I guess.

Noizze: So you guys have a new album coming out, the redux version of Things Will Matter, and you’ve also done a redux album previously for The Days War, what was it that gave you the idea to revisit your songs and approach them in these different styles?

Mark: So originally when we did The Days War redux tracks, we didn’t do the whole album, we kinda just picked some tracks from it, it was most of them but it wasn’t all of them. I guess it was because when we got around to actually releasing that record it’d already been written and recorded for such a long period, and I think some of those songs would have been very different if we had written them at the time that we did the redux stuff, so because those songs were so old to us at that point but they were still new to everyone else it was fun to just experiment with them and mess around with them. We’re all into such different music that although one aspect of our sound is Lonely The Brave and it is that kind of, I guess ‘Rock’ in inverted commas, but there is so much more that we listen to and love that it was interesting to put a new spin on those songs, so like, I love film score and classical stuff as well as everything else, and the other guys are all into different stuff as well, so when it came to the new record we made the conscious decision of, well, let’s do a full redux album, lets really go for it, as opposed to just stripped back versions of the songs, whereas with the original redux there were some that were structurally changed around but a lot of the instrumentation stayed very the same, it remained guitars, drums, bass, vocals, but this time we’ve really tried to move away from that on certain tracks, not all of them but it’s just the idea that one song doesn’t have to have just one definitive version, which I guess is the current tried and tested method of songs, once they’re recorded that is THE version, so it’s nice to challenge that in a way, and show that you can actually still do something new with it.

Noizze: There’s quite a lot of different sounds present on the new tracks, there’s some piano work and synths in there amongst other things, what’s the recording process like for that, who is playing these different instruments? Have we got some multi-talents in the band?

Mark: I guess mainly, the key stuff was myself, Ross and Bush, so when it came to reworking the tracks, which most of it we did at my home studio initially to get the ideas and the structure down, and I suppose over the last couple of years really I’ve been getting really into synths, I find it really inspiring I mean I’m a mad guitar geek, I admit openly that I adore guitars but there’s only a certain way of approaching a guitar in some respect, like you can try and be wacky and crazy with it but it’s nice to sometimes just have something different, that makes you think differently about how you play and about how you use that thing, which then leads you to different styles of music. So that was the main inspiration behind it, and I find using the older synths, in a way they’re still a natural instrument, even though they are electronic they’re so temperamental, they glitch out and do weird things and go out of tune and generally can be a pain in the ass just as much as an old guitar can, so that kind of attracts me to them as well, and I guess again from my aspect, looking at some of the film scores that I love and respect, that kind of texture of synth, like the original Blade Runner song for example, that score is just so... it just takes you there, and that sound is so engraved in my head, I tried to recreate it on guitar and didn’t even get close, so then I tried to do it on synth instead.

Noizze: So you’ve got two albums worth of redux material now, have you ever thought about taking them on tour, and how you would implement those sounds live if you did?

Mark: Yeah we have, we’ve talked about it, and I think from the whole bands perspective we’re not gonna do it unless it can be done right, and no disrespect to bands who do that kind of thing but we wouldn’t wanna go and start using loads of backing tracks and stuff, like if you’re gonna do it, it needs to be done right, and to do that it would need significant investment from our point of view, not just in terms of time, but actual monetary investment too, to be able to do this the way we want to do it without feeling like we had to compromise, and if there’s a compromise I don’t really want to do it, you know what I mean? It’s gotta be right, and to do that at this time where we are currently, it’s probably a bit too much of an ask so either we’d have to compromise on it and say y’know what that’s okay, which it would be okay but I dunno, it’d miss something for me and I guess for the other guys, or we’d have to go, excuse the term, balls out and really go for it. I mean that’s kind of the problem with being the kind of band that we are at the level we are, to do that properly takes a serious investment that to be honest we just haven’t got right now, so we’ll see, I mean we’ve done some redux shows before but they’ve been more kind of stripped back sessions, and a lot of this newer stuff really needs a lot of different instrumentation and a different approach.

Noizze: The artwork for Things Will Matter, and the new redux version both feature a lot of edited photography, can you tell us anything about the images that have been used and why you decided to go with that art direction on these albums?

Mark: Sure yeah, I mean the whole concept behind the artwork and all the images are that they are all personal images, so they’re all pictures of our families, our friends, from day one through to present day really, so we just collated loads of images that we liked, and that meant something to us and took them to the artist we were working with, and said: The whole concept of our record is that form the first moment, every person that you meet, every thing that you do matters, it all comes together and makes you who you are or the situation what it is, and that’s kind of the whole concept behind it, and we tried to represent that with the artwork so, for the artwork for What If You Fall In (Redux) there’s the car with the two boys standing in front of it, that’s actually Bush and his brother when they were kids, and one of the front covers of one of the other singles features Ross’s brother, the actual album cover for Things Will Matter was a collage of photos that meant things to all of us, and it’s got my Mum on the front cover and my Nans old dog and stuff, it’s kinda cool but a lot of it’s been manipulated to kind of turn it into a different environment, so that’s the idea really it’s all the things that we’ve done and all the people that have been part of our lives has all led to where we are now I guess.

Noizze: Do you have any plans going forward for Lonely The Brave after the release of the redux, anything for early next year, perhaps new music or some shows or anything?

Mark: D’you know what, at the moment we’re not rushing into anything, I mean we’ve spent the last 4 or 5 years almost constantly on tour, constantly writing, and that’s cool and we’re very fortunate to have done it, but after a while that can take its toll on various things in life, things outside of the band and things within the band, so we purposely took this year off, that was the whole idea, not touring, so we could kind of put our heads into a space where we can focus and concentrate on our next record, I don’t know how close we are to that yet, we all kind of just write music, I’ve written stuff that may work, it may not, I don’t know yet, but the thing with our band is we’ve never really talked about what we wanna do or how we sound, it’s always just a complete amalgamation of ideas and I think that’s why it works, I think if we tried to sound a certain way it would just sound contrived and obvious, so we just kind of let it take its own course, and having this time I think is important, we’ve got some things we’ve gotta sort out in terms of how we function as a band, and how it works these days, I mean I’ve got a young family and two kids, and trying to maintain that life with the other life, it’s a juggling act and I’m not complaining but you have to consider all this stuff, but in terms of the band I’m sure we’ll have some shows next year, I don’t know what context, I don’t know how we’ll do it, but we just wanna make sure this next record is right, it has to be right, it has to be as close to perfect as we can make it, and that’s my focus, thinking about that and how we move forwards I guess.

Noizze: Have you ever put any thought into, if you were given total creative freedom over Lonely The Brave’s set design and stage production, what you would do with that kind of thing?

Mark: Oh yeah of course, I mean that’d be amazing, that’d be the dream, to be able so sync what we do with imagery would be incredible, and I think very powerful as well, absolutely, and there’s a really good example I always come back to in my head, I don’t know if you’ve seen it but Nine Inch Nails, used to do Hurt, and onstage they’d have a massive projection of a decaying fox, and it sounds horrendous, it sounds disgusting, I mean it kind of is, but it’s so powerful, like they’re just doing that song, with that incredible imagery happening behind them, all in black and white, it’s very powerful and emotional, so yeah that kind of idea really excites me, and Pink Floyd would be a good example as well, not so much with imagery but more their light show and how fundamental that is to their performance, it goes hand in hand, who wouldn’t love to do that given the opportunity, it’d be amazing.

Noizze: Lonely The Brave songs are very raw, emotionally intense songs, in not just the lyrics but the overall tone and feel of the songs too. How does it feel to make that kind of music and see it resonate with your fans?

Mark: Oh it’s an incredibly special thing, I mean, if our band never does anything ever again, I’m not saying we’re not going to obviously but if it all ended tomorrow, to see some of the messages that we’ve had from people saying that a certain song has helped them through a situation, or it’s made them feel this way or that way, that’s an incredible privilege, and that’s probably the thing I love the most about it, when people identify with it, and get it, and what it’s about. I mean there’s a lot of people that don’t get what we’re about, and that’s cool, that’s fine as well, but to have that kind of connection, I think the majority of people I guess identify with Daves lyrics, he’s an incredible lyricist and a great melody writer, great songwriter, and musically you write from your experience, and to convey that to other people through a bit of wood with some metal strings on and see them respond to it is pretty bonkers, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the best thing about what we do, it’s an incredible feeling, really.

Noizze: So what would you say has been the greatest thing or achievement you’ve experienced as part of the band so far? Any standout moments in particular?

Mark: Well we’ve done some very amazing things, and we’ve been very fortunate so far, but I’d say the one that always come back to me, playing Reading and Leeds main stage was up there, I mean we’ve all been to Reading as punters god knows years before we were even in a band, and that’d be the festival that all of us would have attended, and I’ve grown up watching my heroes on that stage, so to get up and do that, I mean, at the time it was just really good fun, and then afterwards it was like oh fuck that just happened! Shit! But then there’s loads of things, like touring with bands you have massive respect for, like when we toured with Biffy at the tail end of last year, and they were the biggest sweethearts as well, and to meet people when you’ve seen them work so hard and to see them get where they got is really inspiring, we played with Neil Young, we played with Springsteen, that was incredible, there’s been a lot of things we’ve done, and we’re just very fortunate to have been able to do those things, and hopefully we’ll be a lot more going forward.

Noizze: So, can you name us one of your favourite bands going right now?

Mark: Erm, let’s go with The National

Noizze: Alright so, you’re playing a festival line up, and The National ask you to come up onstage and play guitar for them, are you brave enough?

Mark: Am I brave enough? Fuck yeah, I mean if The National asked me to walk through fire I’d do it. Yeah, I mean we were actually really lucky we did Latitude festival last year, I think it was last year, and they were just kind of milling around backstage, their dressing room was just beside ours and it was like ah man it’s The National! This is awesome! So yeah, I wouldn’t need any notice, I’d blag it, I’d be really bad but I’d be up there.

It was at this point we decided to let Mark go for the evening, thanked him for his time and most importantly the beautiful music he helps create as part of Lonely The Brave.

Things Will Matter (Redux) is set for release on November 10th via Hassle


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