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World Exclusive: Madina Lake In The Studio

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 1 April 2011 at 12.02

The first interview with and photo of Matthew Leone since the band started recording ‘World War 3’. 

After the darkness, the dawn - Madina Lake are proceeding full-steam ahead with their new album 'World War 3' because, well, that's what they do. Regardless of everything that's happened they're finding the strength both individually and as a band to keep on their intended path; thing is, it wasn't just Matthew's accident that set them back - behind-the-scenes record company shenanigans had meant Madina Lake were already fighting for their lives in the metaphorical sense even before that horrific night.

But now they're fighting fit and ready to take on the world on their own terms - and in the new issue of Rock Sound Matthew Leone speaks exclusively about 'World War 3', the pain he's in, the progress the band are making and his hopes for the future. We've also got the first photos of the band at work, one of which you can see below. You can read more about how the band are progressing in the magazine, but here's an extract from the interview:

How did it feel to make an album on your own?
“To be honest, we've always been a band that butts heads with all the conventional music methods. We signed with Roadrunner, did the producer route and we realised that there's a lot of pressure to co-write. When you're in the studio with a tight budget and ticking clock you lose the energy to deal with everything so we always ended up with a compromised sound. Not this time - we're going to record 15 songs for the album and at this point they're all done in terms of basic structure, some need some lyrics and arrangement tweaks.”

Quite importantly, related to but separate from, how are you? How is health and living in general going?
“I’m definitely feeling better than I did last summer (laughs). Normal doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t think it ever will, but that’s okay. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll have physical issues that will be with me for the rest of my life. Currently I’m doing well and it’s day to day if not hour to hour. iIhave to do physical and neuro-pysch rehab every day to help improve my memory, it certainly affords me a nice excuse every time I mess something up (more laughs).”

It’s going to be hard for people to see you onstage, many will only have that image of you lying in a hospital bed as the last thing they saw of you?
“The really challenging part for me personally is that I definitely will not be able to perform like I used to. I have ongoing vertigo issues and dizziness. I’m operating at about 60 per cent of my energy capacity. When I wake up and my eyes open I get excruciating pain, I call them the fireworks, all the nerves up where the incisions were made go off like a firework display. It’s like daggers slicing my head. That’s caused by nerve damage from how it’s healing, if the scar tissue grows back the wrong way then they will be with me for life. So the fireworks are with me throughout the day, and that gets mixed with throbbing headaches. When I bend over the throbbing intensifies so after 10 minutes or so I have to stop, that’ll affect the way I perform a little bit I think. The area is still so tender I can’t even wear sunglasses. My ultimate goal is to be able to wear my World War 2 aviator helmet onstage...I don’t know if that will be possible though.”

Are you aware that you will be talking about this a lot this year?
“Yeah and I’m so over it, I just want to move on. I’m anticipating a lot of questions around it, almost like how we dealt with Fear Factor on the first record (laughs).”

Slightly different I think, but a lot of people will want to express how deeply impressed they were by what you did that night, how do you make space to let people thank you too?
“To anyone that thinks or feels that and wants to express it, that is so greatly appreciated. I’m ambiguous about it as I’m a humble person and don’t feel stronger than anyone else in any way, but doing what I did and having people appreciate it makes me happy and I hope it inspires others to do the same. I would certainly do it again given the situation. It’s weird to be put in a situation where you get to behave from instinct and not a learned response, it makes you realise that in 99 percent of life you are reacting from stuff that isn’t natural to your spirit.”

How is 'World War 3' sounding?
“We don’t have to follow any conventional song structures on this record so we aren't. In the past the songs that the label thought were singles always had a fairly similar structure, this time round we are not doing that at all!”

Are you surprised to be on the verge of signing another record deal after all this?
“Absolutely, before all the shit that happened to me we were all on the same dark path to hell together, we got dropped by Roadrunner and it unveiled a lot of issues in our team. A lot of people were exposed for not lifting a finger while we were out on tour. Within a day of getting dropped by the label, everyone else walked away from us with no second thought. At that point we had to wrangle all our business in and I started diving in and finding out who handled our merch, publishing and all that sort of stuff. I found out that no one had been collecting merch money, nobody was doing anything basically, it was shocking and sad but such a relief, at least there was understanding whereas before we were always in the dark. It gave me a great opportunity to get a whole set of new eyes and ears on Madina with a whole new team. Everyone’s enthusiasm has breathed new life into the band.”

It’s funny what can happen in a year.
“You really can’t see it coming…”

…And if you could, you’d try and hide from it.
“You’d stay in for the night. you’d go left instead of going right (laughs).”

How do you hope the rest of the year goes? What do you hope it feels like to be in this band come the end of 2011?
“We’ve been talking about this a lot and we are incredibly excited about getting back to all our favourite places. We were so far from being on the stage at one point. To be honest, aspirations for the record are pretty humble, we feel like we’ve established ourselves and most bands don’t get to third records so we feel lucky. We are not dying to be huge and blow up we just want to carry on. In the past it was not okay to like Madina Lake for whatever reason, after everything we’ve endured and survived it feels like everyone might just be rooting for us for the first time. It’s weird but it lends us the opportunity to show people who we are while busting through the stigma of what people thought this band was about.”

A second first chance?
“Yeah, and we are accountable only to ourselves now so we sink or swim by our own hand.”

For more from Matthew and more world exclusive photos, pick up the current issue of Rock Sound - onsale now from WHSmith and all good newsagents as well as direct from our Ebay shop for all overseas readers.

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