Latest release: Monstrorum Historia (Pelagic)
Website: www.lookandbehold.net

Sydney sludgemeisters Lo! have been traipsing all over Europe this year with Cult of Luna and The Ocean, gaining strong plaudits for their second album Monstrorum Historia. During July, the four piece will be playing shows on the east coast with Melbourne’s High Tension to re-introduce the album to local audiences. We caught up with founder and guitarist Carl Whitbread for a few words:

Hi Carl, thanks for your time today. Lo! is about to head out on a short tour to promote the new album, which you haven’t had a chance to do yet.
Yes. We released it just before we went to Europe, but we haven’t had time to play it back home yet.

What was the tour like?
The reception that people have over there to music is so much better over there. I guess they have a larger population as well, but generally everyone’s very accepting and most of the shows we played we had a big audience. Most of the people had probably never even heard of us, but they still watched it and heard it and came to chat after. It was just a really good experience.

Did you get any feedback from the other bands?
They said they were really happy to have us on tour and they watched our sets every night. It was very cool. For me there was, I guess not worry, but, we are quite a different band to Cult of Luna and I wasn’t sure how well that would go down. But I think it just worked really well having that contrasting sound on the bill. So it was awesome.

Then again there’s people who would say that you’d fit right in with those bands.
Well it’s all in the same basket I guess. Cult of Luna is a bit more atmospheric, and so are The Ocean, to a degree, whereas we’re a bit more straight-up and heavier. But it fitted really well.

Now you’ll be doing a few shows with High Tension. They’re a pretty exciting band too.
They are awesome. I got to see them live a few months back at Black Wire Records in Sydney and they are really intense (laughs)!  They are a really good band and I’m looking forward to playing with them.

I first spoke to you just as the previous album came out. How do you think Lo! has evolved since the first album?
I think the difference between the first album and the new one is that everyone in the band was a lot more involved in the writing. With the first album, I’d written it all before I’d even recruited members to play. So now obviously we’re a lot more comfortable with each other, we’ve been playing together for a few years and that really helped with the writing process so hopefully that helped pushed our sound up to the next level.

What’s the response been like from overseas?
It’s been pretty positive from everything I’ve seen so far. It’s been really good and all the shows we played over there, the response was amazing so we’re all really happy about that.

There seems to have been a bit of an explosion in the number of bands on the on the local scene over the last few years. Have you noticed that?
I’m not sure if it’s that there’s more bands doing it, or there’s just more bands getting recognised for it now. There’s definitely a lot of Australian bands that I’ve known for a very long time that I guess have always been considered sludge, but people have just not really heard of them. But it’s definitely getting a lot more attention these days.

Just in case you haven’t noticed, there has also been a huge influx of international touring bands coming through Australia recently as well. Do you think that has negative ramifications for the smaller local bands when much more popular acts are constantly playing and drawing crowds away?
I think also there’s the point of trying not to play too much. If you’re playing every single weekend in the same places, people aren’t going to come and see you because they’ve already seen you the week before. Sometimes the less you do, the more hype there is when you actually do something and people are more likely to make an effort to come out. I guess as far as more popular bands, and international supports and things like that, we’ve been very lucky to get a few supports to interntional bands which is always a positive things for us and we get to expose ourselves to people who probably wouldn’t have heard of us and because they’re there to catch another band they’ll hopefully watch us as well and enjoy it.

Keeping with that subject, what do you think is the best support that you’ve been involved with?
Obviously the European tour with Cult of LUna and The Ocean was the best thing we’ve ever done as a band. Locally, it was really awesome to support Russian Circles. We’ve supported them twice and the last time they came out we did Brisbane and Sydney with them. They’re the nicest bunch of guys ever and I’m a really big fan so it was a great pleasure to be able to play with them.

What further plans do you have for Lo! after these shows?
There’s no plans right now but we want to get back over to Europe at some point and from there track over to America, although apparently it’s a lot tougher to tour there than it is in Europe. Other than that, we would like to do another release, hopefully by the end of the year. Not another album. Maybe an EP or a 7 inch or something in the interim, just to get it out there.

Do you find yourself constantly writing?
No not constantly. We all have full-time jobs as well, so it can be harder. Even doing the album was just a monomental task, especially as we did it in such a short amount of time. It was very stressful – although, enjoyable. It was good stress.

Lo! tours in July with High Tension:

12/7: Crown and Anchor, Adelaide SA (+ The Burning Sea)
13/7: Reverence, Melbourne VIC (+ Jurassic Penguin)
19/7: Crowbar, Brisbane QLD (+ The Fevered)
20/7: Spectrum, Sydney NSW (+ Totally Unicorn)