In The Studio
Lonely The Brave only released their debut last year, but the follow up’s been a longtime in the making…
Words: Danny Randon.
Their 2014 debut album ‘The Day’s War’ propelled them into the Top 20 and onto festival main stages, but the rise and rise of Lonely The Brave has not been one void of meticulous planning or admirable patience. Having firmly established an identity defined by their gargantuan alt-rock hooks, the Cambridge self-professed ‘doom pop’ quintet have already cracked on with the recording of their second album.
“There hasn’t really been any pressure put on us to deliver a second album,” says drummer Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley. “Because we have toured so heavily in the last two years, we just didn’t have any time off, so when we did have a couple of weeks here and there, we’d be straight into our rehearsal room!”
Despite it being just 14 months since ‘The Day’s War’ first hit shelves, the conception of a second record was a milestone that Lonely The Brave endured in their peripherals for an excruciating length of time. Between the recording of their debut and its release, Mo recalls having to wait somewhere between “two to three years”, a window which saw the band marred by growing pains, but also handed opportunities which have boosted them to impressive heights, most notably contracts with both Sony Music UK and Hassle Records.
Reflecting on the eventual success of ‘The Day’s War’, Mo sighs with a hint of relief: “The wait was totally worth it in the end, if completely frustrating. We had so many problems trying to get the album finished that weren’t from our end, and then there was the complication of signing to Sony and having to push [the album’s release] back by three months, but there’s no way we’d change anything.”
“If we did change something, we might not have been in the position where we are now,” Mo chuckles. “We’re lucky boys really!”
Having been forced to sit on an arsenal of fresh material until ‘The Day’s War’ was re-released with a bunch of bonus bits earlier this year, the band seem eager to unleash the first cuts of new material as a five-piece, after guitarist Ross Smithwick joined the line up (completed by guitarist Mark Trotter, bassist Andrew Bushen and singer David Jakes) last year.
“‘The Day’s War’ was strictly written as a four-piece, but Ross has come in and put his stamp all over it. We’ve all got completely different influences: some of us listen to a lot of metal, some of us listen to country, and some of us listen to hardcore. The way that things come out is a completely organic process, and always has been.”
Although the original incarnation of ‘The Day’s War’ was a straight-laced affair of sharp, simple melodies and soaring choruses, the Victory Edition re-release helped Lonely The Brave embrace the myriad of influences among them, through re-arranging some of their most renowned tracks. This is a creative process that has been employed in the recording of their second album, something which Mo explains is “definitely more of a progressive album” than its predecessor.
“There’s been a lot of time, effort and thought put into reworking the songs. There’s some electronic stuff on there, and some heavy, ballsy rock numbers with a more progressive slant, but at the same time it’s still us. [The progression is] something we could never get rid of if we tried.”
Helping the band take the necessary steps towards sonic expansion is producer Ross Orton, recording the album in his Sheffield studio. Having worked with an array of British artists both culturally striking (M.I.A., Roots Manuva) and significant (Arctic Monkeys, Drenge), Orton’s divergent production history became a vital ingredient in the creation of this record.
Lonely The Brave found themselves in the company of a man who, much like the band themselves, has made rigorous efforts to avoid being pigeonholed as a producer who specialises in a single genre.
“[Working with Orton] was 100% the right thing,” says Mo. “We went into the studio with what we thought were finished arrangements, and then we worked with Ross to make them the best that they can be. He is the most relaxed dude, and his work is so diverse, which is exactly what we wanted from a producer. We didn’t want to go in with just a ‘rock producer’; it was the fact that he’s worked with M.I.A. and Arctic Monkeys that was just a massive fucking bonus to us. It was a bit of a curveball that nobody was expecting, but he knows what he’s doing so well that he was basically always right and we always agreed on everything. He pushes us hard but we get on really well with him.”
With album two nearing completion, the time came in November for Lonely The Brave to head out on the road once more to bring the triumphant touring cycle of ‘The Day’s War’ to its eventual conclusion. With headline dates across the UK, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, it marked the end of a pivotal chapter for the band, as well as the opportunity to tease the next instalment of their epic saga.
“It’s good to be out there playing new material,” Mo reports mid-way through the tour. “We have to keep moving and that’s why we’ve done this tour. You can’t win all of the time, because some people want to hear all of the old songs, and some want to hear the new songs, so it’s trying to find a happy medium. The new songs are being road-tested for us to see the response, and to get tighter at playing them!”
Looking ahead to the new year, Mo is hopeful of completing the album in time for a summer release. “It’d be fair to say at this point that the album is done, and it’s going to be a much quicker process this time around.”
With that bittersweet three-year wait firmly behind them, Lonely The Brave are far from losing any momentum. “It all seems to come together after a lot of hard work,” assures Mo. “It’s going to be different, and it’s time for us to step up.”