Northlane and In Hearts Wake have released a surprise collaboration, in an EP called Equinox. Ahead of their combined Australian tour, Marcus Bridge of Northlane and Jake Taylor of In Hearts Wake chat to John Goodridge about the making of the EP and the long standing friendship between the two bands.
How has the Northlane European tour been so far?
Marcus: It’s been crazy, we’ve been doing a lot of the festival stuff at the moment. The Impericon Festival has been crazy with a different type of crowd, because with Hatebreed headlining it’s more of a metal crowd, which was really cool. I think we picked up a lot of fans along the way.
It’s quite a vast mix of bands on the Impericon Festival, so it’s crazy seeing so many people come out. We’re about to start our own headline stuff over here so we’re just as excited for that. There’s about six shows in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but then we’re taking a couple of weeks to write and work on some new stuff.
How was it for In Hearts Wake on the Groovin the Moo tour?
Jake: It was a dream come true. At first we didn’t know how it would pan out, being the only heavy act, but we left Groovin’ the Moo feeling like we were equals. Everyone backstage is such a unifying thing; from headlining main stage to being first on a side stage, hanging out… It was nice holding the heavy flag and to have crowds that were [of] equal size or volume.
It seems to be that heavy acts are becoming more popular now. Why do you think that is?
J: It’s definitely something new that’s happened on Triple J in the last five years, to be played more consistently. It’s a growing trend but like hip-hop or rock and roll or punk of the past, they’re slowly integrating into new ways that the mainstream music portrays them. I definitely feel that there’s this urge of relief, this urge of heavy music, because there’s a lot of heavy things going on in the world, so it has this place. Yeah, it has this place.
M: There’s a lot of heavy stuff going down and it lets a lot of feelings out, I guess. It’s good to be able to express yourself; it’s very energetic music. I think that kids, especially those that don’t have the greatest life or who have everything that they want… with Northlane, we try to have a fairly positive message. I guess playing what we’re playing, it’s good to be in that energy, but also find something positive in it all. It’s a lot of energy and it lets you get your frustrations out as well.
Looking through your Instagram feed, although you’re into heavy music, you obviously still have a real connection with nature.
J: Definitely. We live in Byron Bay in the Byron Shire, so it’s hard to escape that reality of “Wow, we’ve got it pretty good here.” Over the years, we’ve really found our way with what we want to promote, which makes us feel whole and happy. That’s definitely testament to the connection with nature. I find it so important, fundamentally, in my life to create a balance and from there it really stems off to how we’re treating our planet and being spiritually disconnected from our planet.
How did the collaboration on the Equinox EP come about? Was it instantaneous or was it something that was working up for a while?
J: We worked up to it for quite a while. We played a couple of shows, more than a couple, we’ve played 69 shows together; a couple of tours, but originally they were these fundamental shows from the early days when we were playing to ten people in converted cafes, which were venues on a Sunday afternoon. We had to appreciate each other’s music and appreciate each other as friends and it’s grown from that small place to where we are now. There was always conversation that one day we would work together and do more things together, because we enjoy each other’s company. That really hit a turning point last year when we had the conversation to actually make it happen.
Was there a defining moment when you decided to make the EP?
M: I think it was the end of last year when we were doing a North American and Canadian tour together; I guess the Northlane boys had known them for a very long time, since Northlane started they’ve always been close, and I guess we just thought it was about time to do something together and do something big. Prior to me joining, all the guys were very close and once I had joined, I got an email from Jake being very supportive and being excited to tour and do stuff together. It’s a very friendly bunch of people, so I guess it was just a matter of time till something like this happened.
Was it difficult getting everyone together from the two bands?
J: It was difficult to find the timeline, but because we had organised it in August last year, we were able to forecast when our two bands crossed paths in Australia and do this EP together. It takes a lot of planning and we’ll be crossing paths again soon to rehearse and to play it all together prior to the tour.
With so many people in the two bands, how does it go recording? Does everyone go crazy or do you all sync together?
M: It was alright, I guess. It was difficult trying to figure out the best place for everyone to fit in; there are very different voices across mine, Jake and Kyle‘s, but it wasn’t too bad. I guess we just laid it all out then once we figured out how the song would go, we worked out who would fit the part the best and who would do it justice. There wasn’t too much bickering over who would sing where, but it turned out really good.
Will this actually be the first time that Northlane and In Hearts Wake will have played together on the same stage?
M: Yeah it is, but we get back from Europe about a week before the tour starts, so I’m sure we’ll get together and iron out the little quirks before we start playing. We’ve been playing “Hologram” on this tour, trying to get it prepped for Australia and it’s sounding crazy so far. It’s just a matter of getting all the boys together and figuring out where everyone needs to be. I’m very excited to see how it all goes.
What will the format of the show be?
J: It’s gonna be a flip flop scenario, not like a 30 minute change over, but a seamless flip flop and there will be moments when all ten members will be on stage, together, playing. It’s quite a technical feat and we’ve looked into the technicals and we can pull it off, but it’s still a challenge to see that through. I’m looking forward to taking that risk and seeing it through.
It seems like just getting ten musicians on stage knowing what to play seems like a mammoth undertaking.
J: Everything about In Hearts Wake is a mammoth undertaking; taking risks and have big ideas and see where it takes us. It’s the only way to try new things out and succeed.
What sorts of feelings went through your mind when the vinyl copies of the Equinox EP sold out almost immediately they went on sale?
J: I guess, well received, the risk had paid off. It is a risk collaborating with another artist. It’s different, different ideals and different ways of doing things; it felt good, it was really nice to be received like that, so it was a nice thing.
M: When were talking about the vinyl, we did want it to be exclusive, but we didn’t realise how quickly we’d get rid of them. It’s exciting to think that we can do that and people want new stuff from us. Maybe down the line we can do another run out, but I don’t really know.
Do you think that people want vinyl because they want something tangible to hold as well as having the music?
M: I guess I grew up at the end of the CD and record era and it’s good to see it coming back. I was the same; I was a fan of having the CD or the vinyl and looking at the artwork. Every now and then you’d find some crazy artwork that was like a poster, or fold out something. It’s exciting buying that stuff and learning about the whole thing, so I’m glad people are still getting on board with that.
The artwork came from both bands?
J: We both presented what we though would be a symbol of unity and they were different symbols, but when we moved the colours and twisted the symbols, we found that the line work actually lined up, so that was just a neat little thing.
That must draw back to the whole concept of spirituality.
J: It reinforces the sense of duality. Duality plays a part in all of us, spiritual or not; there’s two things going on, whether it’s mother and father or yin and yang. Our energies together are creating an equinox and this is our representation of (call it) spirituality or whatever you like. It’s our creation.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted when you went in to record the EP or did it evolve as you went?
J: It definitely evolved. There was no “how-to” guide of what we’d create at the end, because we hadn’t witnessed anyone doing this before. Bits were fleshed out and that middle interlude track was something that happened in the studio. To me, when I listen back it feels like a journey, a twelve minute journey when you listen to it seamlessly.
It’s almost like being on earth witnessing a state of chaos and mayhem and the refugee crisis, if you want to look into lyrics, but then we leave earth into a void-like area and then we’re in space and we’ve got Northlane’s technical sound overview looking back. It’s a journey, a big journey.
How does it feel to have an Aria #1 album, like Northlane did with Node last year?
M: Pretty crazy. I guess, particularly being my first year with Northlane, to get something like that is not something I thought would happen, so [it was] very exciting and [I was] so stoked about it. You don’t let it get to your heads, but I’m sure it won’t. We’re not the type of guys who are out to make music for the awards, it’s good to be recognised for our music but don’t let it hold us back.
In Hearts Wake are joining the Vans Warped tour later this year – how are you feeling about that?
J: I’m feeling really good about that! Vans Warped Tour is a fantastic opportunity to do what you do best and get out there to a whole bunch of new fans. We’re playing with mainstream bands like Good Charlotte and New Found Glory, punk bands that defined punk, so you got opportunity there to do what you do and win new people over. You’ve got to put yourself out there to be judged by all kinds of people. If it comes from a good place, you’d be surprised how infectious music really is. It’s a wonderful challenge.
What other milestones have there been in your career.
J: The last few years have been a rollercoaster, from playing the Bald Faced Stag in Sydney and selling that out to 200 people to within a year, selling out The Roundhouse. That was really a wild journey. We released two secret albums a year after each other and again, that was another huge risk to take, but it has a good sense of accomplishment.
From here, I guess the collaboration has been another milestone and then doing that live. What So Not, the DJ at Groovin’ the Moo, asked us to play onstage and perform a part in an EDM track, which is something that metal doesn’t really do. That was really cool though. There’s lots of opportunities really presenting themselves now – wonderful – create.
Have you had any fan moments where your music has changed someone’s life?
M: We’ve had a couple of moments and it’s pretty crazy, especially for me, being in the band not as long as the other members. [People] coming up to me about one of the songs I was involved in, not even a Northlane song, something that I’ve actually had a part in. It’s surreal, especially when you’re on the other side of the world and that happens, something you never expect to hear. It’s a bit crazy and a bit of pressure, but I guess you’ve got to be as positive for those people, who’ve found something in your music that helps them out, as you can.
In Heart Wake fans seem really committed too; I’ve seen pictures of lyrics tattooed on their arms, for example.
J: They’re very dedicated, there’s lots and lots of tattoos, more than I can count, which is crazy to think that words I’ve scribbled in my bedroom have ended up on people’s arms. It’s humbling and I just really hope they thought that through and I can only hope they appreciate those in years to come. That’s wild dedication.
A few people have also collected almost every piece of merch – vinyl test pressings, and they post a photo to the Internet and they’re like a dot next to the collection, lying down. It’s amazing. It’s surreal. Some of those things go on the Internet for hundreds if not thousands of dollars, so in the back of some peoples minds is that these will grow in value in years to come. It’s a wild world.
Do you think that there’s a secret to success or is it a case of doing what you do and hoping other people like it?
J: You’ve got to write music for yourself, that’s for sure. Be real, but don’t be afraid to try new things. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you’ve got to put yourself out there and take risks; educated risks, test things out, test the waters. It’s something that works for us, can’t say it works for everyone.
THE EQUINOX TOUR
Ticketing information can be found via LIVE NATION.
June 10th | Metro City, PERTH
June 11th | Thebarton Theatre, ADELAIDE
June 12th | Festival Hall, MELBOURNE
June 17th | The Tivoli, BRISBANE
June 18th | Luna Park, SYDNEY
Header image: Neal Walters.