THE MODERN RECORD: INTERVIEWS 'LOWER THAN ATLANTIS - DECLAN HART'
WE CAUGHT UP FOR A CHAT WITH DECLAN HART FROM LOWER THAN ATLANTIS AHEAD OF THEIR UPCOMING UK HEADLINE TOUR
1. To start things off with an unusual question, If you had to change the name of Lower Than Atlantis, what would you change it to?
Declan: That's a mental question, I don't know! I've never even thought about it, I've just kind of accepted that that's our name, and that's what it is!
2. I see, so who was it that named the band?
Declan: Me and Eddie (drummer) were in the band for the first few years before the band had really done anything. Mike got some t-shirts printed from someone he knew, and they just said “Atlantis” on them. He was just kind of like “Oh, this is what we’re called”, and we were like “Nah we don’t like that. It’s shit!”. We changed it to “Lower than Atlantis” because it’s all sad songs, a kind of melancholic vibe.
3. When and how did Lower than Atlantis come about?
Declan: Mike and Ben went to college together, and they met through their mutual passion for music. I also went to university with Eddie, while Mike and Ben moved forward to university, so it was kind of like the two lots of people with the same story; hated uni and dropped out after a few months, and it just went from there as we met!
4. So is that the original lineup? Were you in the band from the very start?
Declan: There was like, loads of drummers and bass players, but it was all before anything big happened. Me and Eddie joined the band, and that was that for the last nine years!
5. What genre would you consider your music to be, and do you agree with genre labelling?
Declan: I think genre labelling is bullshit really. It’s 2018 and everyone listens to whatever they want. It’s almost like it’s a sin to hate stuff these days. If you say you don’t like something, people are like; “Oh nah, you’ve got to like that!”. At the start of this album cycle, we sat down and said; “what even is our sound? What are we?”, and we sort of decided on grunge-pop, which is what we would say if we had to call ourselves anything. It’s all stupid, isn’t it? It’s all guys who sit on the internet, commenting on forums all day, they’re the people that care about all that.
6. Well, you’re Wikipedia classes you as a Rock band!
Declan: Well that’s just a nice little blanket, isn’t it, for people to get warm and cuddly again!
7. If you had to name the band’s top three musical influences, who would they be, and are they similar to your own?
Declan: In the early days, Foo Fighters were like the pinnacle of rock music for us, so they’d be one of the main ones. But in terms of now, your main influences are kind of in the back of your mind, it’s all about constantly finding new stuff. Me and Mike are really into modern contemporary jazz guitar players. There’s so many young bands that are playing that stuff, and it’s shit that I would never be able to think up or play, so it just interests me so much. It’s just such a style that I’ve never learned.
8. So you play the bass, does it matter what it says on the headstock, or does it matter what feels best?
Declan: It’s definitely a matter of what feels best. I’ve definitely been subject of this, but people get so tied up about not playing anything other than one of the big brands. As you get older, you just go for the look and feel of your instrument, I think any musician that has been doing it a while would probably agree with that.
9. So what bass do you play at the moment?
Declan: I’ve actually just received an Ibanez endorsement, so that’s something I would never have thought to play. I had a stigma attached to it, but people kept telling me to come and play one of them, and I found one I really like. I was like “this is sick, this is my thing now!”.
10. How do LTA rehearsals usually go?
Declan: Our whole LTA machine operates on last minute panic! When we have time to do stuff, everyone’s a bit lazy about it, but in a way, it’s more exciting if there’s a deadline and pressure. We don’t spend weeks upon weeks rehearsing, we’ll just have a week before a tour. We’ve been doing it a long time, and not to sound egotistical, but we know what we’re doing. A little refresher is usually all we need. If you better yourself as a musician through practise in your own time, it’ll benefit the band.
11. What’s been your biggest challenge that you’ve faced in your time as a band?
Declan: It was probably when we got dropped from Island after our third record, because it kind of knocked us back a bit. Everybody lost some confidence. I think that every band that has some sort of career, however long or short it is, will have that up and down thing.
12. What advice could you give to a young band who would like to start gigging, and do you have any major do’s and don’t’s?
Declan: The main thing I would always say is to not be afraid to do stuff, you can always learn from your mistakes. Just go and do it, if it doesn’t work, then you know it doesn’t work, and its not going to happen again. If you only think about things, you’re never going to know if they’ll work or not. Just get out, meet people, and play gigs really!
13. How has LTA’s music evolved?
Declan: It’s all about new influences. There could be a chord in a dance tune, or a beat, and you’re like; “I want to make that into a song, I want to rip that off, because essentially that’s what music is, ripping other things off, haha!”
14. Can you offer any backstory to your song “Words Don’t Come So Easily”?.
Declan: Eddie writes all the lyrics, so I couldn’t tell you, to be perfectly honest!
15. What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time, i.e. a piece of advice, or something you’d need to know?
Declan: It sounds mental, but, going back to what I said before, it’s all about learning from things, even if it’s the worst possible thing you could’ve done, at least you can take something away from that.
16. How do you feel about the increase of vinyl sales?
Declan: It’s cool! It’s kind of like the biggest physical thing, musically, that a band can sell these days. Me and Mike do collect a little bit of vinyl. I’ve got loads of them, I went through a period of trying to get all the records that I really love, and that really mean something to me. It actually became a mental expensive habit, I’m not a millionaire, I can’t just buy something to sit and look at! I’m just looking through my vinyls now, I’ve just found Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I remember my Dad was mad into football, along with my brother and they’d take me to away games. I fucking hate football, but I came anyway, and I managed to find the vinyl in that town for a fiver!
17. If LTA had a night on the town, who’d be the last man standing?
Declan: I reckon Eddie would go home first, Ben would be the last man standing, I think they’d agree with that!
18. What have you got coming up?
Declan: We have a 22 date UK tour, we’re going back to smaller venues and kind of playing non major market cities for the first part. We’ve made a conscious effort to try and have the setlist include songs from all our five records, which is a change, as we haven’t played some of our old songs in a while. Also, a hometown show in Watford, which will be sick! And we’re also working on new music, we’re not going to do an album till 2019, but we’ve been working on a track that may be out during the tour! 100% new track, just no date!