Ahead of their monumental regional tour, I caught up with Dec Hart, the bassist of the well-established Watford four-piece Lower Than Atlantis. With ten years under their belt as a band, we discussed their history, evolution and how “time heals all wounds”.
The upcoming tour is quite a change of pace from the momentum Lower Than Atlantis have recently experienced, with a headline slot at this year’s 2000 Trees Festival, we talked about what this change will bring. “The whole point of this tour is to play loads of shows in places that we haven’t necessarily been before or haven’t been for quite a few years. I think what’s most exciting is that we made a conscious decision to play songs from all 5 of our records, we’ve never ever done that before. We have only ever concentrated on whatever album we have been promoting.”.
Their 5 records, spanning from 2010 to 2017, possess a plethora of differing styles from their post-hardcore debut album Far Q, up to their more recent releases, with somewhat more pop tendencies than their early sound. I was interested to find out what he thought the fan reactions would be, from both their new and longer-term listeners. “Well, according to the internet playing old songs should be really good, but who knows because the internet tells a lot of lies”. Dec continued to discuss how their newer albums had brought in an influx of a new audience “younger kids we have at the shows [now] would’ve been like way too young to know about those records because they were kind of more underground” and he enjoyed the prospect of acting as a “gateway band” which introduces fans to new genres of music, “like we’re underground too!”. Conversation about more intimate venues led Dec back to the bands early days, “so in my brain it’s all memories of being really poor and driving the van. Just eating like a piece of cheese and bread, then only playing to twenty people who just don’t care”. He explained how they haven’t been to many of the regional venues since the bread and cheese days, so their successful return will be something special.
We talked about the their setlist process and how each member looks “at bands we like for inspiration”. Hart’s inspiration has been drawn from “favourite bands of all time are Thrice, and they have like 10 albums or something mental and recently they have been playing a ‘Greatest Hits’ set, for want of a better word. It’s pretty cool to see all the different styles of their band, so I am trying to rip that off basically!”. Playing a ‘Greatest Hits’ setlist – for want of a better word- means including music from Changing Tune, an album which embodies the era in which the band were signed to a major label but subsequently dropped a year after the record was released. “There is a period of our band that had a bit of a salt in the wound vibe, and we were like “nah, we don’t want to think about that period ever again” but time heals all wounds. Now, enough time has passed and that’s all cool, we are ready to revisit it.”
As a self-confessed “last-minute machine” he explained how the band are yet to start rehearsing for the tour, “This isn’t to sound arrogant, but we don’t need to rehearse the songs we have been playing on the current setlist. It is almost like we just need to play them a few times to refresh the memory, but we may need to start a bit earlier this time around with playing all the old songs”. With ten years’ experience playing together, it is unsurprising that the performances comes naturally. Their stage set up is remaining quite minimalist, anything more “would be ridiculous in those venues, people will be like ‘this is literally Spinal Tap’”. The smaller stage and more intimate crowd will encourage more interaction with the crowd, giving the band “a chance to see people’s faces, like everybody’s face, not just the first few rows.”. As a band who often stay “afterwards to meet new people”, the intimate regional stops should allow for time with the fans, “we’re not like weirdos, just easy people to speak to!” and I can vouch for that!
The interview was rounded off with some vague hints toward working on some new music but they “are not putting out another record for a while”. Who knows, maybe some of this new project will be teased as they descend into the touring lifestyle and trek the length of the UK.
The Lower Than Atlantis tour kicks off on 2nd April 2018, playing York’s Fibbers on 13th May. Tickets available here.
By Kat Ferris