Interview: Mike Duce (Lower Than Atlantis) – 'I'd cut my bollocks off to be where we are now five years ago'

British rockers head on their biggest tour yet after the release of new album Safe in Sound

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Interview: Mike Duce (Lower Than Atlantis) – 'I'd cut my bollocks off to be where we are now five years ago'

Mike Duce (centre-right), Lower Than Atlantis

Lower Than Atlantis have just cracked the top ten with their fifth album Safe in Sound. Part of a wave of young vital acts revitalising British rock, once a sound in the thrall of America now bands like You Me At Six, Bring Me the Horizon, Don Broco, Mallory Knox and Deaf Havana, they are redefining the UK scene.

LTA started when guitarists Ben Sansom and Mike Duce met at college. They went to uni, ostensibly to study music, but mainly to get their hands on a student loan to spend on equipment and touring. An argument with their original vocalist, however, was a pivotal moment in their development. 'We used to be a lot more punky, it was just shouting really,' explains Duce. 'We had a different singer but we had a falling out on one of these toilet tours, I think we were in Durham or Newcastle, and we just pulled over and booted him out of the van. We were half way through the tour so I was like "fuck, I'm gonna have to do it ain't I?" I realised I was better at singing than just shouting so it just went from there.'

Duce's vocals were more informed by The Smiths, The Cure and The Police than their hardcore roots. Lower Than Atlantis retained their heaviness, but became more melodic. Duce wasn't afraid to open up and tackle more sensitive subject matter. 'These songs seem to resonate with people because they are quite relatable, everyone feels like shit, everyone falls in love, everyone has monetary worries.'

As their style evolved, tracks like 'English Kids in America', 'Here We Go' and 'Get Over It' connected with fans. 'Writing them can be hard, but when you play them live I'm more worried about everyone looking at me and trying not to break a string or hit a bum note. The writing is therapy but the playing is just "don't fuck up".'

Their new album is perhaps their most polished to date, almost a distillation of everything that has gone before. 'We looked back through our discography and found that some of the heavier songs like 'Here We Go' and 'Criminal' worked best on the last album [2014's self-titled record]. We went back to our fan favourite album [2011's] World Record and there's a couple of songs on this new album, like 'I Would' or 'Could be Worse', that are reminiscent of that era. It's like a greatest hits but all new songs, if that makes sense.'

The title, Safe in Sound, also resonates with Duce: 'When I was a little kid whatever was going on in my life you put your headphones on and for those three and half minutes you shut out the world, cut out all that bullshit, you're cocooned in music. I like the idea of this album doing that for other people.'

Duce also admits they are more committed than ever to Lower Than Atlantis. Whereas once they would rehearse for a week, this time around they have been practising for months and have increased the size of their live show to justify these larger venues. Once notorious for their hard partying, LTA have a new outlook on life. 'I don't drink anymore,' says Duce, 'I haven't for over a year. I'd cut my bollocks off to be where we are now five years ago, so why we were taking it for granted and just fucking up? We've grown up a lot, we're taking it a hell of a lot more seriously.'

Lower Than Atlantis tour the UK Thu 9–Sat 18 Mar. Safe in Sound (Easy Life) is available now.

Lower Than Atlantis

Post-hardcore and alt rock from the Watford quartet.

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