We get some time to interview one quarter of Cambridge ‘Doom-Pop’ rockers Lonely the Brave. Guitarist Mark Trotter joins Ellie Greenfield on the old squawk box to discuss band life and political statements, and being sandwiched between Kate Bush and Dolly Parton.
How did the band get together? How did it all start?
The way most bands do. We knew each other from other bands, and when they fell apart—as they so often do—we just decided we should get together. I think music is incestuous in that way; especially in a small community like our hometown, everybody just seems to know each other and people end up collaborating.
Who influences you most musically?
We all have very different influences; it always makes it difficult when someone asks to describe our sound. The other guys are really into heavier stuff like metal and grunge, but I like everything from country, to classical to indie. Obviously we have bands that we can agree on, like Deaf Tones, The National, Pearl Jam; but finding bands we can agree on are far and few between. I guess that’s how it always works – if we all liked the same thing we’d just end up a tribute band to them. It’s good to be diverse… sometimes.
Who influences you most in your lifestyle?
I don’t think we’ve ever worked like that, we love and respect so many different artists, but I don’t think we’d try and emulate anyone. I’m sure we all have our muses, for me personally, though, it’s my little boy. I became a dad last year and now have a 14-month-old baby who’s just started walking. He’s amazing, he’s my inspiration.
Your music videos have had some insanely good feedback on YouTube, especially to ‘Backroads’ and ‘Victory Line’– people are saying they’re quite the tear-jerkers, where did the inspiration for them come from?
’Victory Line’ was the first song we ever wrote as a band – it’s very close to us. It’s a song about friendship and we were unsure how to convey that; there’s an amazing director called Jeff Le Bars and lucky for us, he said he’d work a video out for us. We were very lucky to have him on board with us. ‘Backroads’ is such an important song – lyrically it’s about something else completely, but the song is intermediately about hope and not giving up. Greg Davenport approached us with an idea he had; he was in Ukraine when everything happened and he thought our song perfectly captured the feeling of escape. The kids in the video aren’t actors, they’re just kids who have had to deal with all these awful things, and they perfectly reflect the hope of the song. We didn’t do it as a political statement; we’re nowhere near qualified to make one, we just thought it was a perfect fit. People can make what they want of it, you’re always gonna get people that don’t like it, but that’s fine – everyone has an opinion.
Your debut album has crashed in at 14 in the charts – that must feel amazing.
It’s mind blowing. If you’d have told us four years ago when we were just starting out that we’d land here with our debut, we’d never have believed you. We went in at 11 and now we’re at 14 which is incredible, and we’re number 1 in the rock charts – we’re just so grateful for the support of our fans. I think we were in between Kate Bush and Dolly Parton at one point, which is insane. To have a debut album hit 14 in the charts with how diverse the music industry is… it’s just unreal. We’re very lucky.
What’re your plans for the remainder of 2014?
We’re off on tour with our first ever headlining spot in October. We’re off to Europe again next week. We’re just trying to play as many shows as possible and trying to get some new music written. We’re staying bloody busy!
How do you manage band stuff and ‘normal people stuff’?
Luckily for me my lovely lady is so supportive, without her it’d be insanely difficult. It’s hard to juggle everything, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so we’ve got to hang on to it. It’s weird because I’ve been spotted out and about; I’m not used to that kind of attention – usually people are really cool and just wanna chat. I’m not sure how I’d cope with screaming fans. It’s very grounding to be away a lot but then go home to see my other half and my little boy, I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s amazing, ‘cause my son is amazing, but he’s very lively and we’re knackered.
If you could play a gig with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
That’s a difficult one. For me, personally, it’d have to be Jeff Buckley; he changed my life when I was younger. He opened my mind to music, so to jam with him would be unreal. Obviously that can’t happen, but he’s definitely the one.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be and why?
I’d probably be a complete mess… in a ditch… on fire… Oh, wait! Can I change my answer? Can I be anything? I’d be a pilot! That’d be pretty cool. Yeah. Why not?
What’s your favourite song of yours and why?
It’d have to be ‘The Blue, The Green’; I remember the first time we finished the whole song as a band, and I remember Dave hitting the high note at the end and I was just standing there thinking; ‘I wanna stand with these guys forever’. It’s a powerful thought to have. So, yeah, that definitely puts that song way up there.
Lonely The Brave are gonna be showing and proving on The Big Cheese Tour at Corporation, alongside Marmozets and Allusondrugs this month. October 13th, being precise. Frankly, you’d need to be a little soft to miss this.