#RSpromotes: Lower Than Atlantis' Mike Duce takes us back to where it all began, in association with Marshall Amplification!
HOW DID YOU INITIALLY GET INTO PLAYING GUITAR, MIKE?
“My best friend from primary school went to America with his mum and dad over the summer holidays - just before starting secondary school - and when he came back he was like a completely different person. He was the same Ginger Chris, but he was also cool as fuck because he had a guitar and a skateboard… and he could play a bit of guitar too. I was like, ‘Who the fuck are you, and how are you so cool? Can you teach me?’”
WAS THAT YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE OF PLAYING MUSIC?
“When I was really young I had guitar lessons, to try and get out of class at school. One day the guitar teacher asked me if my mum was picking me up, because he wanted to have a chat with her. He had a conversation with my mum about how some people have it and others don’t, and that I didn’t. He said he didn’t mind taking people’s money, but it probably wasn’t worth it for me. I was standing there thinking, ‘Fuck, this is so embarrassing’… but look at me now! He’s probably still teaching kids D chords.”
SO, WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST EVER GUITAR?
“I found my first guitar in a skip on Queen’s Road in Watford, and I took it to Queen’s Road Music Shop to get it fixed, because it only had two strings and as far as I was concerned it was broken! From then on I would mime in front of the mirror holding the guitar, pretending I was a rock star, jumping around. I was really lucky growing up because Watford had a really good local music scene, but you could get on a train for 15 minutes and be in Central London. I was kind of spoilt for choice.”
WHAT BANDS OR MUSICIANS INSPIRED YOU?
“I would figure out parts of Blink-182 songs at home, and within two summers I could play their entire discography. That’s what I used to do every day, as if I was doing a three-hour set. I know what a C sounds like because I’ve heard ‘Dammit’ so many times, and it’s the first note. What I loved about Blink was that they had great songs, but simple ones as well, so a beginner guitar player like me could play a few of the riffs. I’ve definitely held true to that. It’s so much harder to write something simple that’s good, and I really admire Tom DeLonge for that. We go on tour with them now and they’re our best mates, it’s not a big deal or anything…”
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU THINK ABOUT STARTING A BAND?
“When you see Foo Fighters at Wembley on TV or whatever, it seems like they’re people cut from a different cloth. They’re like aliens who are untouchable. That’s always what I thought, but then when I was 12, I went to a show in Watford Rugby Club, where Captain Everything! were playing. Afterwards the band members were just walking around talking to people, and I knew that one of them had gone to a local school. It was weird, I was like, ‘Oh my god, they have fans, you can play gigs and be in a band even if you aren’t at Wembley doing it, people still sing along and shit.’ These normal guys from my town were doing it, so maybe one day I could do too. That’s probably the reason I’m doing it today.”
YOU PLAYED YOUR FIRST SHOW AT WATFORD RUGBY CLUB, RIGHT? HOW WAS THAT?
“It was awful, an absolute shambles. We were called Atlantis at the time, and we sounded like a shitty covers band that your Uncle Pete would be in, so we changed the name to Lower Than Atlantis. The only way was up! When you start touring and stuff, you’re not really getting paid. You’re getting food, water and petrol, but people have bills to pay. That’s always the hardest part of getting a band off the ground, finding the right members and keeping them on board.”
IT’S BEEN QUITE A RIDE SINCE THEN, HUH?
“There have been loads of incredible moments. We’ll be sitting in Australia or Japan having pizza and be like ‘Fuck, we’re in Japan boys, look at what we’re doing’. We surpassed all our expectations when we played the Camden Underworld, as the first of four bands. Since then it’s been a bonus. We’ve done so much, I’ve been everywhere and through music as well, not working for someone else. We’re our own bosses, and someone somewhere is paying for me to play guitar. I think that’s hilarious, I’m just getting away with it. I’m still faking it to make it.”
Mike is using Origin, an amplifier specially designed to give contemporary guitarists greater expression through rich organic tone. Classically styled with modern features, the amp is the perfect acknowledgement of Marshall heritage and what Jim did all those years ago – listened to the player’s needs.
Check out the all new Marshall.com for more info!