Latest release: Singularity (UNFD)
Band site: www.facebook.com/northlane
They may have played early in the day, but Northlane’s triumphant appearance at this year’s Soundwave was the culmination of an inspiring rise to prominence for the Sydney crew. During their hometown set at said festival, they were hampered by murky, uneven sound, which as Loud’s reviewer remarked robbed them of the subtle technicalities and flavours that sets the band apart from much of the bloated metal/hardcore field.
However, while their music’s nuances may have disappeared on that occasion, their message was projected clearly when frontman Adrian Fitipaldes offered a shout-out to other bands and aspiring musicians in the crowd. He informed the masses that, “You can be where we are now if you believe in yourself” (or words to that effect, anyway).
“I can’t remember who said it; it might have even been Will Smith because he’s such a successful person,” the vocalist explains when he’s asked about said comment. “I know it’s kind of a random thing to throw in there, but it’s what popped into my mind. He said, ‘if you have a Plan A, you have to believe that that’s your only option’, or there can’t be a Plan B. If there’s a Plan B, then there’s automatically room for failure or an alternative. You really have to believe that Plan A is your only plan, and to believe that’s what you’re going to do.
“The word belief, and the idea of belief, has such a powerful impact over an individual. People’s beliefs will drive them to do some crazy things, including murder, suicide and horrible things. But I think at the same time, belief can empower people beyond the power they think they have. Like the old saying goes, ‘if you believe, you will achieve’. If you really get your mindset right and really want something bad enough, you will get it. If you want something and you don’t get it, I guess, if you want to be successful and you didn’t get there, you didn’t want it bad enough. You just kind of wanted it. You weren’t willing to put the hard work in to actually get there. Those who are successful, the ones who actually make it are the ones who wanted it, and wanted it more than the person standing next to them. That’s why they’re on the top I guess.”
The quintet clearly has wanted it more than most. New record Singularity arrives just 16 months after their debut album Discoveries was unleashed on the unassuming masses. Relatively unknown at the time of the first album’s release – and catching many members of the press, this scribe included, off-guard – Northlane are now among the elite of Australia’s heavy music landscape. In the lead-up to the new record’s release, they embarked on an extensive bout of touring. In between Soundwave and a national run with local metalcore titans Parkway Drive, they also undertook a successful trek through regional areas.
The buzz Northlane has created is therefore significant. Fitipaldes is aware of how quickly things are moving for the band as well. When Loud speaks to the friendly, thoughtful vocalist in March, it’s Singularity’s release day and he’s in great spirits. The record – which represents a quantum leap forward from their already impressive, technically-proficient inaugural LP – has since debuted at No.3 on the ARIA Charts. Several shows on their album launch tour (where they will be joined by Canada’s Structures and America’s Stray from the Path) have also sold out well in advance, as new dates are being added to meet demand.
“Things are moving very quickly,” he reflects. “I’m at home right now; things tend to move a bit slower when you’re at home and in your day-to-day life. But when you’re on the road things are moving quickly, things are intense; early mornings, late nights. It is a bit of pressure at the same time, but like I’ve said to other interviewers, when people are under pressure they work at their ultimate best and it’s either make or break when you’re under the pressure.
“I always like relating it to evolution, like organisms and animals in general. When there’s evolutionary pressure that forces them to adapt to their environment, and I think that’s what humans do on a more complicated level in work and everyday life. When the pressure’s there, that forces them to change and adapt to their environment and surroundings. It forces you to work harder and be successful.”
Aiding their considerable momentum was the viral marketing campaign they orchestrated to promote Singularity. Produced by Will Putney of Machine Shop (New Jersey) in between a Canadian tour and their Parkway Drive support late last year, they managed to keep the recording of the album top-secret. Northlane surprised their devoted following when they released ‘Worldeater’ last December, leading fans to believe that it was a stand-alone single, even though it was always intended for Singularity.
There was much speculation about what Singularity actually was after their label UNFD launched singularity2013.com in late January. The site hosted a countdown and a series of information leaks that captured the attention of fans and media alike, gaining more than 300,000 hits on the website in a month. After many rumours and much guesswork, some fans correctly assumed that it was a Northlane-related project. One avid fan even managed to crack the binary code used in a Blunt magazine advertisement to work out all the details of the forthcoming LP. Fans also cracked the track-listing via a series of invisible cubes placed around the site.
When it’s suggested to Fitipaldes that in the digital age it’s very difficult for a band to create and maintain any semblance of mystery, and that Northlane largely defied such trends via their own form of online promotion, he quickly agrees. “It got people buzzing about it and let everyone know what was happening,” he enthuses. “The hype was there and the suspense was there, which I was very happy about. And it seems that we’ve lived up to the hype apparently, so I’m very happy about that. I’ll give all the credit to Josh Smith our guitarist, the business head of our band, and all the people working at our label. They were just very awesome in putting that whole campaign together and my hat goes off to all those people.
“We started by testing it on our first single, the ‘Worldeater’ vinyl that we released. The first way we released it was we just put up the vinyl artwork, without telling anyone what it was about. People sort of went into this frenzy; they thought it was our new album and that the new album was called Worldeater and all these crazy things like that. It really stirred the pot and got people talking. All we did was post a bit of art on the internet, and kind of left people in the dark about what it was about. So when you play the mystery card, I think naturally it just gets people talking, ‘cause they don’t know what the fuck’s going on.
“That was sort of a test run for the Singularity campaign. Going off how well that went, we thought we might as well do the whole nine yards with the Singularity release, put up the website and create even more mystery. I love mysterious things. I think the universe is a very mysterious place; being a human being is a very mysterious thing, we don’t fully know what we’re a part of. So it’s kind of a play on that theme of mystery.”
“Mystery” is a key component of Singularity’s lyrical focus too. There’s a distinct otherworldly feel that’s aided by the eye-catching artwork. This is all indicative of an ambitious act determined to prove that artistic integrity and commercial success need not be mutually exclusive. That’s likely why their second LP so strikingly assured.
“Part of the reason Northlane are such brothers and such a family is because we all share a deep reverence and awe of the universe, nature and the cosmos,” the singer reveals. “I think the universe is a giant mystery. We try and put theories together through science – Big Bang, evolution – but really, we have no idea what the fuck’s going on. We really have no idea what this is all about, and that’s the beauty and awe of it all, is that you don’t really know the full story. I think that’s what keeps you motivated and keeps us wondrous about life in general. I really wanted to tie that in to the lyrics.
“Also, it’s reflected in the album artwork as well. We’ve all been very interested in ancient Egypt and some of the cosmic knowledge that they had. If you trace our history far back enough, you’ll see that most of our thought, philosophy and science actually comes from ancient Egypt. I see it as the worm, or the birthplace of knowledge and wisdom. So that’s one of the reasons why we chose to use the pyramids of Giza in the artwork.”
All of these elements have led to some corners of the press dubbing the band’s progressive-minded approach as “thinking man’s metalcore”. Fitipaldes chuckles when the descriptor is referenced. “Yeah man, I like that. I think you have to be a pretty open-minded person in general to like metal and hardcore. It is an alternative style of music, and you do need to have a bit of an open mind to be able to listen to the music in the first place. Hopefully with an already open mind we can encourage people to think more deeply and think more about not only the universe and life, but themselves and their place in the universe.
“Thinking is one of the best things and most curious parts about our lives; we use our minds to make decisions about our lives and choose what we want to do with our short lives here. I want to get people thinking; I think too many people are distracted and don’t think enough about what truly makes them happy and what they truly want to do with their lives. So hopefully we can encourage people to think a bit more deeply about themselves and their place in the world.”
You can catch Northlane with Structures, Stray From the Path and Statues on the following dates-
30/5: Tempo Hotel, Brisbane QLD
31/5: Eagleby Community Hall, Brisbane QLD (A/A)
1/6: Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW – SOLD OUT
2/6: Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW (A/A) – SOLD OUT
2/6: Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW
4/6: HQ, Perth WA (A/A)
5/6: HQ, Perth WA (A/A) – SOLD OUT
6/6: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA
8/6: Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA (A/A)
9/6: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
10/6: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (A/A)
14/6: New York Hotel, Launceston TAS (Northlane only)
15/6: Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS (A/A) (Northlane only)
15/6: Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS (Lic.) (Northlane only)