Latest release: Digital Lies (Independent/Riot!)

Sydney/Wollongong metal-heads LORD have just celebrated the release of their latest album Digital Lies. While at a pre-release listening party, Loud caught up to singer/guitarist/producer Lord Tim to discuss the album, the band’s past and plans for the future.

Sam – First off, I wanted to ask what the meaning behind the title Digital Lies and is there any underlying concept on the album?
LT – There was no real meaning for this one. As opposed to the other albums so far, we normally come up with the titles first before we come up with the album.

With Ascendance and Set in Stone, all that sort of stuff, they all actually had titles within the album written and even the title track – the song “Set in Stone” that actually came after the album title. So it was a funny thing. We actually don’t set out do to that, it just happens. This time, it just seemed like the album was going in a certain direction as far a lot of the electronic kind-of vibes and when I started writing the title track that had the most electronic kind-of vibe to it and it seemed to kind of sum up a lot of the things that were happening through the album as a kind of a thread.

Overall, if you do listen to the album, you can really hear a lot of synths, samples and sequencers going on underneath the obvious metal songs. It just seemed to have a bit of a futuristic kind of vibe, which gelled mostly towards the title track.

It’s more of a theme than anything else. It’s definitely not a concept album.

Sam – On the topic of songwriting, how does that work within LORD? Do you take on the bulk yourself or do you split it between the four members?

LT – Every album is different, this album is a bit of an odd one as far as writing / splitting up goes. Once LORD became a band, we made a conscious decision like Dungeon situation where that I was writing everything.

On the earlier Dungeon albums, there were a lot of contributions from the other guys, but it kind of gravitated towards me to take it by the collar and pull it through the mud when line ups change and that sort of stuff.

So when LORD started, it was me and TY (Tim Yatras, ex-drummer) jamming in the rehearsal room with the other guys adding ideas and the likes.

However, since we took a break in 2012 and we had a lineup change since Set In Stone, a lot of the ideas weren’t as necessarily forthcoming as previous albums; we weren’t as much in touch in 2011 after our 2010 tour.

As usual, the guys submitted their ideas, but it felt right for me write the bulk of this one with a pair of tracks (“Betrayal Blind” and “Battle of Venarium”) almost entirely written by Mark (Furtner, guitar).  The bulk of the album is pretty much all me this time.

That’s likely to change on the next one, we don’t want to turn it back into “LT’s personal project”, and LORD has never been about that. It just felt right to go in that direction for this album.

Sam – As many people may know, you handle all of the production duties with LORD, how has Digital Lies’ process differed compared to previous experiences?
LT  – Like we were chatting about earlier, a lot of LORD’s stuff starting from Ascendance, kind of got built on the foundations of what came before it. So, there were kind of left foundations like production left over from the final Dungeon album that went into Ascendance. We changed a lot of the guitar tones and a lot of the ways we looked at stuff, but it was built on the foundations of the Final Chapter.

From that, every release since has followed on the core production ideas from its previous release, I make templates from the previous stuff so we can apply it to the mix of the new thing to save a bit to time to rough it in.

But with Digital Lies, it was all entirely done from scratch. There are new guitar tones and new crafted drum tones, this time we recorded Damo (Costas, drums) with his DrumCraft kit rather than TY and his Pearl kit. There were plenty of new ideas/ things thrown into the mix.

Rather than building up on what we did before, we decided to break it all down and build up from scratch. Seeing as this time there are more electronic elements, we had to balance that up with a much more natural drum sound, a open guitar tone otherwise it would just sound cold and clinical and we didn’t want that. We wanted a mix between organic and digital and we could not have done that going off the framework of our past albums.

Sam – Do you have anything special planned for the local and international releases such as a digipak or bonus tracks?

LT – Yeah. Every territory has a bonus track; we also have commemorative shirts / packs available online for the new album. We are planning to release singles down the line with special remixes, plenty of that stuff. But the focus at the moment is getting it out everywhere and getting it into as many stores as possible.

As opposed to the last couple, we left a lot up to other people that didn’t quite get the market penetration that we wanted. So this time we just said, “Fuck it – we are our label, everybody kinda works with us and we are going to take control with this from the beginning”. I think the goal with this one is just to get it out there and it’s known, but there will be other things coming out and  of course, the album launch shows.

Loud- How does the album distribution process work for the band? Do larger labels license it directly from your own label?
LT – We’ve released it through our own label (Dominus Records) and Riot Entertainment are licensing it and releasing it in Australia and New Zealand. We do the pressing, we do the promotion to a point, but we hand it over to Riot! to get it into shops.

One of the biggest assets Riot! has is Chris Maric – he is great for PR, so while we do a lot, Chris just knocks it out of the park, he is a machine. We let him take care of a lot of the stuff which we could do ourselves, but it could send us old and grey in like three-and-a-half minutes (laughs). Chris is already old and angry, so he is good about this (laughs) It’s great to be working with Riot! again and in Japan, we are working with Rubicon who looked after Set in Stone so they have just expanded their business quite a bit so their PR is great over there. As far as the rest of the world goes, we are exporting rather to a lot of places than signing with labels; you never know what is going to be there tomorrow because of the nature of the industry.  The long and short of it is – we are taking care of business ourselves, selling it ourselves via our online stores and we are happy to work with select partners to help put it on the shelves and that’s where Riot! and Rubicon come in.

Sam – Being well known for your extensive touring, what’s the plan in supporting
Digital Lies?

LT – Well, we have another Australian tour happening, it’s being booked now. We’ve got offers to do other international destinations that I can’t talk about yet as it’s in the works and up in the air, but there is a good chance you will see Lord around Australia and other places around the world this year in support of Digital Lies. Basically, if anyone has the money to sort of get us there, we will play anywhere. (laughs).

As a lot of our fellow bands in the Australian music industry know, it seems all we have to share between every single band at most times is $47 and one cold McDonald’s fries between us (laughs), so say somewhere like North America all depends on funding us getting there as it costs a fortune, let alone visas. We are entirely self contained with recording, video clips, artwork, production, album release. Everything you see from LORD, we pay for. Obviously we get it back when we sell the stuff, we get it back but we have to pay for it first.

Even touring Australia isn’t cheap, we went into a lot of debt to get to many places in our own country, and so for us to tour overseas, we rely on promoter’s support. So anyone wants to get us out there,  we will do it, we just can’t go any further out of pocket to do it ourselves.

Sam – Having spent many years in the music business, what is your take on the current state  of the business and where do you see Lord’s place within it in 2013?
LT – The business is in a mass transitional mess at the moment as no one knows how to make a fucking dollar in 2013. Traditional record companies are fucked; they are trying to desperately scramble the last shreds of the old style of getting a band, giving them money, paying for everything and then putting it out without getting back 99 per cent of their profits without the band getting nothing.

But for an underground band trying to break into that sort of stuff, that’s pretty hard nowadays especially as radio is dictated by a lot of what the major labels are telling them and seeing as majors aren’t making any money, they aren’t signing anything. It’s just all a commodity. So for LORD, to try and fit into that, we are at that annoying kind of in-between stage where we are too big to sell demos down for nothing and hope our mates at the local pub will buy them, but as the same time, we aren’t a major touring act or recording act and so we don’t have that infrastructure a major band has got, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves and just  assumes everyone is out to get us (laughs) and that we hate everybody so we are doing it all ourselves as I mentioned it before, if it comes from the LORD camp, it’s 110 per cent all us. In effect, we have held up a massive middle finger to the established media and said if you want to work with us that’s great, if not well – fuck you! (laughs)

Sam – Tying in with that question, after the years and folding Dungeon – right now in 2013, do you think you would have been as far as you are now?
LT – To be honest, folding Dungeon set us back three years. That’s the fact of the matter; Dungeon was an established name in Europe. Europe being what it is, they are very set in their way of what is established and what isn’t, Dungeon had an arguably  crap deal with LMP, but at the same time, it had a deal with LMP which is a European label and because of that, the band was established over there.

LORD on the other hand, because we were let down in the early days and in turn, we did not have the same foothold that Dungeon had, we just weren’t picked up. We left it go to long and because of that, we didn’t have the market penetration in Europe. Now, when trying to sell LORD that 2013 has come along and the industry is in such a mess and no one is taking a risk, that’s really, really hard.

So, if we had kept the Dungeon name, there is a good chance we would have been further along but in the same time, that was proving to be very problematic.

Honestly, I don’t consider actually Dungeon being disbanded; I consider it just being changed. It’s the same band in my mind, we consider LORD as a continuation. We still play the same songs, the same style and acknowledge the old albums as being a back catalogue and we acknowledge the past members. We consider LORD a product of guys like Dale and Stevo just being part of it; I consider them part of LORD by extension as LORD is Dungeon by extension.

We aren’t adverse on getting some of the old Dungeon members back up to jam when they are around, it would be fucking great, it’s like a family reunion as it were. In fact, when we were in Broken Hill, we tried to get Dale up to jam a song, but unfortunately he was a bit sick.

Sam – It’s been nearly 24 years since Dungeon started, are there any plans to do an anniversary show in the future?
LT – No not really, we were planning to do a few themed shows where we would play Dungeon albums in their entirety if we could, but the unfortunate thing about LORD and the fortunate thing for fans is that we are very prolific with writing material and releasing albums. Every time we get that idea, we usually end up writing a new album and having to tour and promote that. So, it kind of puts the end of that really quick.

But we would be quite happy to go out and play an album like A Rise to Power in its entirety if we do get a chance to as we think it’s great and it’s from an era that we consider our own. We don’t consider LORD as a band that started in 2006; it’s a band that started in 1999 that changed its name half way through.