Interview: Lonely The Brave

Lonely The Brave make the sort of music that defines iconic parts of your life. Could be a break up, or a successful job interview, or seeing breathtaking natural beauty in the world. Their music is up to you to interpret and apply. There aren’t many dry eyes in the house at one of their shows, and each person is feeling something unique. Scott Wilson sat down with guitarist and vocalist Mark Trotter before their recent headline show at King Tut’s.

How’s the tour going?

Good, mate, it’s been really good fun. It’s our largest headline UK tour to date, and the majority are sold out, so it’s been great. Glasgow was the first one to go, actually. Always so good to come play here. So much, so much fun. People are always up for it.

Last time you were here was with Marmozets?

Yeah, joint headline run.

How did that come about – both great bands, both completely different bands – so what was it that put you both together and made a tour happen?

It was just a suggestion, and it was a no-brainer. They’re a great band, and they’re lovely as well. It was a really fun tour to do. We became really good mates. When it was suggested to us we said “yes” and why wouldn’t you.

The album’s been out a little while now, how has the reaction been looking back over time since its release?

Oh it’s been bonkers. We didn’t know what to expect, we had no expectations really. No idea how well it’d do, how well it’d go down. The reaction’s blown us away, absolutely blown us away. It’s evident now when we do these shows, you know, Dave (Jakes, lead vocalist) doesn’t have to sing half of them! It’s pretty special, it’s all we could’ve asked for really.

Dave’s an interesting frontman – he stands towards the back, is he naturally introverted?

Yeah, I mean from the first time we rehearsed that’s just where he’s always stood. It’s where he’s comfortable and we’re not gonna try and change that.

It doesn’t detract from the show, it’s actually quite captivating.

Oh cool. To be honest I don’t care if he’s behind a curtain. As long as he sings, you know!

The ‘Trick of the Light’ video came out not so long ago and I saw you put up on FB that someone had made a replica of the jacket really quickly, is it common to come across things made for you or inspired by you?

Yeah we’ve had loads of amazing things sent to us throughout the few years, some amazing drawings of Dave, some fan art, tattoos. Some of the guys are getting tattooed right now!

Are these lyric tattoos or the band logo?

Yeah, there’s a logo getting done just now. It’s amazing, there’re guys with the full album artwork on them, which is incredible.

I’ve seen stylised lyric artwork online quite frequently.

Yeah, Dave’s lyrics are special. All the songs are about things that happen to everyone and anyone. That’s what people identify with.

Does he take full control of the lyrics?

Yeah Dave does all the lyrics.

Does he write the lyrics first and you tap into them with your music or do you guys provide the music first?

He’ll come up with an idea, a song idea. As a musician you’re always writing, about experiences you’ve had, well I do anyway, and it’s funny because Dave manages to tap into that a lot of the time. When the original music for ‘Trick of the Light’ was written, I wrote that about a situation I was in at the time and didn’t tell Dave what that was about, and I actually had another set of lyrics which he never heard.

Did you ever share them with him?

No, he’s never heard them. But, he tapped into the same feeling. He’s a bit special that boy.

In terms of music presentation, I get the same feeling from you guys as I do post-rock, that sort of building to a climax feeling – is that something you tap into or is it just natural that your songs feel more powerful as they progress?

I’ll take that. I’m a huge fan of Sigur Ros. Love them, absolutely love them. I wouldn’t say they’re an overall influence on our sound, though obviously it’ll affect me in some way because I’m a big fan. We’re all into post-rock in some way, there are some great bands – This Will Destroy You, that kinda thing. Personally I’m really into film scores and cinematic stuff and classical music is a big influence on me. That grandeur is similar to what we do.

That’s interesting because my next question is that – I feel that Lonely The Brave soundtracks parts of my life – so if your music was used in a film, what kind of film would it be?

Oh that’s a great question, probably the best question I’ve ever been asked. Something…dark and fucking moody. Some kind of film noir. I don’t know, anything that has that sense of scale, I would say. Anything with natural scenery and big stuff. Big spaces!

I know that for me your music really connected when I was on a train journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh on a sunny winter’s day, and I know that it’s defining my life at this point in time as a soundtrack to what’s going on, and I know friends who say the same.

That’s awesome and if that’s happening then we’ve won the battle as far as I’m concerned. My favourite songs are songs I’ve no idea what they’re about but they mean something to me. I don’t know what they mean to the band, but they mean something to me. If people are getting that from us, brilliant. I actually had a similar thing the last time we played here, on the way back from Glasgow on the way to the next show. It was this really weird crazy overcast day and I was listening to The National, we were coming through the hills and the mountains and the line “let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love” came on and it was like being hit by a train at the precise moment!

I feel like, with Glasgow in particular, The Twilight Sad soundtracks everything you could think of.

Aw nothing wrong with that! Great band! We watched them at Truckfest last year and they’re a phenomenal band.

What was it about the words The Day’s War that made you think “this totally encapsulates what we’ve made”?

That kind of came about because, I guess, like we said, the songs are written about real life experience. Stuff that we’ve been through as individuals and as a band. That’s not always easy – it isn’t easy – there are highs and there are lows. Sometimes it’s a struggle, that’s where it comes from. Sometimes you just gotta get through it. That kinda encapsulates that feeling.

So given that you write your own lyrics, is there anything on the album you’ve heard and thought “man I wish I wrote that”?

Oh everything Dave has written. I love everything he does. The guy’s ridiculous.

Do you all write lyrics? I know you only use Dave’s but do you all write individually anyway?

No not really, I don’t tend to do it anymore anyway. I should really get back to doing that at some point. My role is to provide a vehicle for Dave. That’s the most important thing as far as I’m concerned. Getting that message out there.

I totally get that everything he writes is poetic since my favourite song and favourite lines change all the time – right now ‘King of the Mountain’ is really doing it for me.

I like that song a lot. Mine is probably still ‘The Blue The Green.’

That video is quite something.

Yeah it’s pretty mad. I’ll be brutally honest, when it first got suggested I wasn’t that keen. The idea of “Lonely The Brave solving the world’s problems one video at a time”, you know, if it wasn’t done sensitively it could come across really badly. He just nailed it.

Do you have a say in what happens in the videos?

Yeah absolutely. We get approached with concepts. We put our input into it saying this is what the song’s about, this is the feel of it, we get ideas back and if there’s anything we like the idea of we say cool. We get quite a large input into that.

So what happens next? You’ve got an extensive tour then do you get to sit down for a bit?

No we never stop! We’re on this tour for seven and a half weeks, into Europe, a few days off, then more shows, more shows, more shows. We’re writing our second album at the moment and hope to have that recorded this year. It’s just not gonna stop, man.

[Scott Wilson @HeartofFire]

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