Latest release: For You Will Not Find Peace Within Your Quiet (Independent)Website: runmetal.bandcamp.com
While for many of us, the current year has been annus horribilis, for Lochlan Watt 2018 was a year his demons came out. The vocalist, writer, activist, radio presenter and metal scene all-rounder came face to face with personal tragedy on several fronts, causing him to re-evaluate his life goals.
“Early 2018 was pretty rough,” he begins, after a brief discussion of his health situation. He is currently recovering from treatment for brain cancer. “A very dramatic year with bands and the suicide of a close friend and dealing with the fact that I realised I had become an alcoholic and I needed to quit drinking, and all the touring that I had done in the years prior to that – everything came to a head in 2018 and I realised that COLOSSVS was not the right thing for me. When that ended I felt great and I thought, ‘Fuck yeah, I don’t need to do a band anymore. I don’t need to do that shit’.”
He may have been done with bands, but bands weren’t done with Lochlan Watt. By the end of the year, he knew he had to have an outlet once again. This time, after years of fronting other people’s bands, it would have to be something of his own.
“As the year went on, more dramatic stuff kept playing out and I felt that I still had this kind of stuff inside of me and intense emotions that I needed to put out in some way. So I decided to put my foot down a bit and do a project on my own terms for the first time, and just made it happen.
Hence, R U N was born. Devised as a solo creative enterprise that would allow him to unleash his demons without answering to anyone, Watt took the project to his friend and long-time collaborator Mike Deslandes, the guitarist with Melbourne extremists High Tension and YLVA.
“I’ve been doing lots of things with Mike for a very long time,” he explains, “coming up on ten years, really, since I met him the first time I recorded an album with one of my old bands, Ironhide. He mixed the Nuclear Summer album, he was the dude that did, top to bottom, the COLOSSVS album, and he even recorded my Thy Art is Murder audition. He’s demoed vocals for me over the years for other bands I’ve been trying to audition for and other new projects that I’d been trying to start up that just fizzled out. He knows my musical sensibilities better than anyone.”
It was a timely connection. As it turned out, Deslandes happened to be looking for a project that would allow him to expand on his interests in production and songwriting beyond the scope of his other bands. Things just snowballed from there, Watt says, “And now it’s his band, too.”
That being said, all the ideas come from the singer, who cut and pasted ideas and passed them on to Deslandes as they developed the tracks that would become For You Will Not Find Peace Within Your Quiet. The 20-minute EP features five individual songs that flow together into one extended suite – each track’s title makes up the name of the EP.
“It just accidentally came out that way over time,” Watt says of the EP’s structure.
“[Mike]’s more the composer, I’m more like a conductor,” he goes on, explaining the creative process. “Writing out the skeleton, drawing the skeleton of a record and making notes about what we each song had to have. That was an approach that he suggested, but most of the dictation about the ebbs and flows was coming from me. I would find songs, or parts from songs, by bands that I would really like, and decide that this is what I wanted to reference or this is what I wanted to sound like. Or sometimes I would hum melodies and stuff into my phone and then he’d smash out a few riffs or a few parts and send them to me and say ‘Is this the vibe?’, and then I would jam out the drums on my hands and knees and influence the structure that way.”
As the concept grew, R U N became more than just a musical outlet. Watt soon brought in graphic artist Patrick Galvin to help create the visual side of the group. Galvin developed the EP’s accompanying full-length video of a single tree amongst a series of harrowing and bitter landscapes of jagged, barren peaks before ascending to the stars, all coming from Watt’s initial vision.
“I commented recently that Pat feels a little bit more like the third member of our band than Joel, the drummer. No disrespect to Joel, because he absolutely smashed it, but this creative process – and it’s not the album, it’s the merch, the logo, the whole look of the band – we spent about a year and a half, I think, talking about it regularly and fleshing it all out. And it’s the same deal with Pat: as much as it’s my project, I feel it becoming something on an art collective, almost. It’s like the band has three really strong forces behind it, and that includes the visuals, obviously.”
R U N exists completely in the digital world. There are no plans to release For You Will Not Find Peace Within Your Quiet as a physical product, although the band is selling a form of it through Bandcamp. Watts’ philosophy on CDs and vinyl is a further reflection of that which he expressed almost a decade ago in an interview he did with us about Ironhide. Back then, he said he believed that CDs felt worthless and expendable. Not only is physical media costly to create and ship, there’s also an environmental cost that comes with it. For R U N, the physical media side of the release comes in the form of a cardboard folder and artwork that ties in with the music.
“Right now it’s really expensive to press vinyl and all these big name bands around the world are pushing their albums back… I know a lot of labels that are struggling with importing costs and mailing, and shipping, with supply chains breaking down and the like,” he says of his decision. Working with labels, including his own Monolith imprint, has helped to inform him of every cost. “There’s the environmental side to it too. I’ve done some successful releases, but I’ve also done some stinkers where there’s been hundreds of CDs and vinyls just laying around to be thrown out, so I guess there’s a little bit of guilt there that I think I need to alleviate by releasing my own thing through my own channel. Also, making vinyl is pretty nasty for the environment.”
“R U N likes to embody a futuristic kind of vibe,” he continues, “and to me it just seems like – while CDS and vinyl are cool and I’m not dissing it – we just felt, ‘Why not try something different?’, because we have the opportunity to, and it seems to make a lot of sense to us and it will be a lot more affordable.”
Beyond his hopes for the band directly, one of which is to be able to perform live in the future, he would like to think R U N is setting a precedent for what other acts can do. It will alleviate the financial costs on bands, and the environmental demands of producing and shipping.
“In the long run,” he says, “I ultimately hope that it will become a thing to inspire some other bands to release music with some kind of different physical representation.”