One of the best things about working with musicians at the early end of their careers is being able to watch them grow, improve and develop over the years. We first worked with Lost In The Riots on 3rd December 2011 at an early Facemelter, shortly after the release of their Sinking Ships EP. Since then they’ve released their full debut Strangers In The Alps and most recently their single Kong. With each one you can see the evolution of their music, so James had a few questions for them about what drives their unique sound and what they’ve got coming up for us.
You seem to have a less darkly driven and more melody-based sound than most post-rock or hardcore bands. Could you describe where you depart from other bands on the scene?
As with most bands, the music we write is a product of all four of us being influenced by various different bands and artists. For us it’s a fine balance between giving people something unexpected whilst not being different just for the sake of it. Tonally, I think we wanted to tap into something that wasn’t necessarily being done too much and think that if we stand out stylistically, it can only be a good thing.
There was clear evolution between the Sinking Ships EP and Stranger In The Alps and there is a clear difference between Stranger and the songs we’ve written for our new record – we don’t like to sit still!
What kind of influences would you say have gone into this distinctive sound?
Each of us in the band is very diverse taste-wise and I think that has probably left it’s mark on ‘our sound’. Its important for us to continue to refine the music we write with each record we release, push ourselves and develop our songwriting philosophy. Its about trying to be honest instead of attempting to push things in a direction that doesn’t feel right or represent who we are.
Are you all interested in other genres apart from post-rock/hardcore?
Music is each members primary calling in life, so I think we’re all intrigued by the art as a whole and don’t limit ourselves by genres… you’ll find us happily cracking on with Dr Dre, hardcore punk and metal bands, and film scores as much as music in the post-rock/hardcore genre. The playlist we have when bumming around in a van on tour can sometimes be more embarrassing than endearing.
Photo by Naresh Kaushal
You are an instrumental band, but it seems that each song has a tight, narrative quality that’s difficult to get when you don’t have a vocalist. Is this something you have worked on, or is it just an organic product of how you guys work?
Not having a vocalist has sort of ‘liberated’ (for a lack of a better word) our music structurally and therefore we don’t tend to repeat riffs or ideas such as a chorus or verse would be in more conventional pop songs, so naturally I think you’re telling a bit of a story. Having had our fair share of people ask why we are instrumental over the last few years, we still feel confident that there’s not really space for vocals in our music.
Like most bands, we’ll jam out ideas for a long time and then we’ll refine the idea and tighten it up so that the riff doesn’t get stale. We try not to dwell on the same idea for too long and it’s important to us that each track taps into something a bit different.
You seem to stick to just to the raw instrumentals but I was wondering how much production comes into play when you are trying to get a particular sound. Is technology an extra instrument or just a means to an end?
I think everything that is available to us, from musical gear to the studio we rehearse at and people we work with has helped shape our sound. In our experience, being able to add new bits of gear to your setup, such as a new guitar pedal, helps keep songwriting fresh and can force you to push yourself to try new things as a musician. That being said, we think it’s important to be able to re-create things in the live environment and not hide behind glitzy studio production techniques.
We took on a different approach when we started recording our new album and decided to break up our time in the studio into sessions so we would focus on a handful of songs at a time instead of recording everything at once. We feel it’s allowed us to pay more attention to the songs individually and scrutinise them more than we did on ‘Stranger’. We also chose to use a different studio for the new album (www.a-tonalrecordingstudio.co.uk) which is run by a good friend of ours and that Adam engineers at. Compared to the limited equipment we had at our disposal for the first record, we’ve been spoiled by the options that have been available to us for the new album and think that’s helped give a colour to the new songs.
A lot of your music can be enjoyed by just listening to it privately, but it’s also not navel gazing music, it’s very social. Again, is this a conscious thing or just a natural product of the kinds of musicians you are?
Perhaps not a conscious thing, but we’d like to think that people would equally enjoy our music when listening to it alone as much as they would when listening with friends. Without sounding too pretentious, we like to write music that we can connect with – whether that’s a happy, feel good vibe that we can jump around to or something more sombre and serene. We don’t want to limit our emotional palette too much, which hopefully means that our music suits a range of scenarios in which people are listening to it.
‘We Build Cathedrals’ is an interesting track. It seems to be a piece with a big scope to it, almost cinematic. It’s not especially long, but it’s got an epic quality. Where does a song like that come from?
Thanks. Up until fairly recently we always closed our set with We Build Cathedrals as we couldn’t imagine it sitting anywhere else on the set list. The bulk of the song was written by Jim and myself before Robbie and Andy joined the band, hence it’s immediate ‘guitar appeal’ – we were excited about writing something heavy and full of riffs. Naturally the song developed and changed over time to how it ended up on Stranger. We’re always happy with the reaction it gets when we play it live and the comments we get from people.
Because you have a lot of melodic qualities and there seems to be a range in the things that feed into your music, do you find that you are able to reach audiences that are not just post-rock or hardcore?
Even though there are thousands of instrumental bands out there, for some people it’s still considered quite quirky for a band to not to have a vocalist. It seems to capture people’s attention, particularly if they are seeking something a bit different. People who stumble upon us playing live are generally intrigued and, because we don’t have a vocalist, we rely on our performance in the live environment to ‘sell’ our music to people. We genuinely love playing live – hopefully that comes across to people and gets them on board with what we’re trying to achieve.