"It may have been up and down over the years, now feels like everything is much more comfortable" - Marcus Bridge
Northlane have just released a deluxe version of 'Alien', their most accomplished, ambitious and audacious record to date, via UNFD. Featuring a brand new song called 'Enemy Of The Night' that completes the album's deeply personal narrative and the one year anniversary of its inital release just passing, there's a lot to reflect on.
We caught up with vocalist Marcus Bridge about what the record cycle has meant to him and what it means for the band as they stride forwards...
So let’s talk about ‘Enemy Of The Night’. How has it been for you getting this song out and effectively closing off the ‘Alien’ cycle and story?
"When we were putting the album together and figuring out which songs would stay on it and which ones wouldn’t, it was pretty clear to us that ‘Enemy…’ was a special song. It has a lot of elements that we experimented with across the whole album but it was also a culmination of everything we had put together with ‘Alien’. It was also one of the last songs that we finalised, but it also came together very quickly. After putting all this stuff out within the other songs, it flowed a lot easier and quicker for me.
"It’s interesting though. I know that people expect this to be a b-side, or a song that we didn’t was as good as the others. But in our mind it was the song that sums up everything we’ve done after everyone has had a bit of time to digest.
"It’s another song which is very personal to me and goes into detailed stories of the things that I saw as I was growing up around my parents. I could go into detail about that but it’s pretty clear within the lyrics what I’m saying."
The thing that has touched people so much when it comes to ‘Alien’ is those risks you have taken, both for you personally but also for you all as a band. To round things off in such a way, it’s something that the people who have let this album enfold them will understand and appreciate…
"As the guys and me are getting older, we’re reflecting on the albums that mean a lot to us. In the end it wasn’t necessarily examples that had the whole story laid out for you but ones where you’re able to find meaning within the words or how the music makes you feel. I think it’s something that we weren’t necessarily focusing on doing, but these songs can both be pretty clear to what the subject matter is but if you’re not paying really close attention you can still make decisions on what you want it to be about.
"That’s something that has always been special to us. I think it’s important not to spoon feed every detail to the fans because they are a lot smarter than they are given credit for."
Just as the the year anniversary of the album’s release has passed, how does it feel for you knowing that these personal accounts have been a part of people’s lives for such a considerable amount of time now?
"For me, these stories are things that I have carried with me since I was 8/9 years old, or maybe even younger. It’s a weird feeling really. I’m just expressing myself and trying to tell my story, and it’s stuff which I have told people who are close to me before, and it is a bit stranger it being out in the open. Though at the same time, it doesn’t feel too different or too crazy because it’s something that I’ve taken a lot of time to process and come to terms with.
"The thing I get the biggest kick out of is the encouraging messages that we get from fans and people who have connected with these stories. I think as important as it is for me to use this as a therapy sessions, it’s doing a lot more for people who haven’t been able to reflect on their similar pasts or upbringings. That’s the thing that has been really cool to see. I’ve spoke to people who have never been comfortable doing that but after hearing some of these songs have been able to talk about it. They are the little things that stick out for me."
It’s pretty magic to know that people will be doing that for years and years to come as well…
"Yeah, that is a pretty crazy thought. I guess I’m a very in-the-present sort of person so I haven’t really thought about the actual mark that it leaves. But it is honestly an amazing thing to think about and I really hope that these are things aren’t forgotten about. Not necessarily the songs, but what they are actually about."
It's an interesting time for reflection not just on the last year or so but also your whole time with the band and how things have changed. When you think back to the early stage of your being in Northlane, how does it feel considering the position you’re in now?
"That’s a good question. It’s been so none stop since I joined Northlane that it feels like I haven’t had any chance to really reflect on everything that we’ve done pretty much until now. It’s been within this time off that I’ve been looking back on all of the crazy stuff we have done. It’s just really amazing to see how things are. This could all have gone a very different way. For a lot of bands, replacing vocalists can really be a make or break thing. I think that we got really lucky but it’s also a matter of us wanting it so badly. Ever since the day I joined, and even from the day that the boys started the band, it’s been this or nothing.
"It’s a bit weird looking back on all of these moments because for me it’s just history. I feel like they have all been moments that have helped us to grow and the further we have pushed things the stronger we have got as a band. I don’t even know what I would have thought being in this position six years ago. I doubt I would ever think I would be doing this sort of stuff and touring the world as my job. It’s hard to step back and go ‘Look at that’.”
When you’re working at that pace, it’s definitely difficult to sum everything up because you have no time to look back on where you have just been. But each step is having an effect on where you’re heading even if you don’t realise it…
"I think this has been the first time we have felt comfortable and completely confident in what we are doing. I think we have been trying to find our feet really. Since I joined, it was always going to be a learning curve for everybody. I think with ‘Alien’, we're finally reaching that point of where we wanted to be. We have always moved forward by just getting something done and then moving onto the next thing. I think ‘Alien’ was the turning point because we all grew so much together [through its creation]. We knew it was the make or break and for a lot of us we weren’t going to let it be second best. That’s why we put so much time and focus into us doing exactly what we wanted to do. It may have been up and down over the years, now feels like everything is much more comfortable."
It feels as though the freedom you felt as you were writing things musically has translated into you feeling freedom in all of the other aspects of the band. The recent live shows are proof of that…
"Definitely. I’ve always been excited and involved within the visuals. With the music videos on this album as well, I didn’t want people to just like the songs and think they were catchy but that they also felt those feelings that I did whilst recounting those experiences. In terms of the live show and how it has an almost electronic techno feel to it, we wanted to keep a real tense feeling of discomfort to everything. It’s definitely not something we would have done when I first joined. I had nowhere near the amount of confidence to do what we are doing with Northlane now."
Discomfort is such a powerful thing to harness and when you manage it, it can open so many other avenues when it comes to how you can create…
"It’s something we would love to keep on expanding on. I’m really inspired by people who do strange things. You think of pop artists who have these incredibly crazy shows and set ups, and it’s completely different for bands in the metal world outside of Slipknot and Rammstein. But I guess bringing something a bit different that makes you feel a certain way or like you’re in a certain place is a pretty special juxtaposition. We have this almost club feeling with which we are trying to represent what the songs are talking about whilst delivering an uncomfortable feeling. I think ugly and uncomfortable things are the sort of things that artists don’t always want to put out into the world because it might scare someone away, but that’s the thing that draws me in and makes me feel like I want to know what’s going to happen next.
"It’s all about making someone feel emotion."
Finally, you recently played an acoustic live stream where you played ‘Grateful’, the song you auditioned for the band with. The reaction was rather special. What does that song mean to you now and how does it fit into your story?
"It’s kind of strange because that song has taken on such different meaning since then. When I wrote it, it was a song about my dad but not to the depths that I have written about him now. It was about accepting that and realising that it’s not the end of the world as hard as it is. Playing it now, it’s come to a point where after all of these amazing experiences I’ve been given from being in Northlane I step back and look at it all and I am extremely grateful. Whether that means being unsure of what’s happening and being on pause, it still feels like I’ve been given an amazing chance to do something I love as my job.
"I think it’s funny because when the auditions were happening people who wanted me to be in Northlane were supportive of it, but I never thought of it too much as an actual song. I always thought it was nice and catchy but I never realised the weight it appeared to carry for the people who have been here with me."
It’s quite a unique full circle moment to have isn’t it?
"Yeah it’s pretty strange. There’s a gap of me trying to figure myself out and figure out how to tell this story. It’s taken until ‘Alien’ for me to feel totally comfortable in that. It’s pretty surreal."
'Alien: Deluxe Edition' is out now via UNFD.
The band have announced the details of a special streaming event where they will be showing their show from a sold out Roundhouse in Sydney last October. It will take place on August 21 and 22. More details are available right HERE