Northlane’s Marcus Bridge explains how he lifted the veil on his traumatic past and found sonic therapy through the band’s ferocious new album, Alien.
Read our album review of Alien.
Following up the mighty Mesmer (2017) can’t have been easy, but this one takes Northlane up yet another notch! What was the first song you wrote for Alien, and how would you say it informed the rest of the album?
The first song that we started working on for Alien was probably Bloodline. The process of putting that song together started almost two years ago and wasn’t finalised until we started tracking vocals. Bloodline was the first step in telling my story through Northlane’s music and encouraged me to expand even more for the rest of the record.
The Bloodline music video is harrowing to say the least (it even comes with a “viewer discretion” warning). Did you work with director Jason Eshraghian on concept development for this one? And we also really need to know where you sourced that incredible silver jacket from the clip, please.
It was super important to have the video reflect the kind of upbringing I experienced. I worked closely with Jason and his crew to bring this to life and I don’t think we could have done it with anyone else. The video is meant to be uncomfortable, and a window into the awful things many kids experience behind closed doors. In regards to our outfits, we were extremely lucky to work with Ntombi Moyo who took our ideas and turned them into amazing pieces of clothing, sourcing the silver jacket/armour in the process.
When navigating such painful personal experiences (revisiting things you shouldn’t have been exposed to as child and recalling being bullied, for example) to bravely share with fans/the world through your music, what kind of personal toll does that take on you? Did you find it cathartic to own the “unusual household” you grew up in and the impact this had on you?
It’s been an interesting process as writing music has always been my way of releasing my emotions and experiences, but this time around, it’s been a lot harder to move forward, like I’m only just starting to unpack it all. I’ve had a lot of people reach out with their own stories which has been encouraging, and as people hear the album, I hope the experiences we share with each other help close that chapter of my life.
The track Talking Heads makes recurring mention of “the voices in my head.” How would you describe your inner voice/critic? Any tips for people who are going through rough times in terms of how you can push through and try to be kinder to yourself?
I’m a very self-conscious person. I overthink a lot which I think comes from tiptoeing around my dad as a kid. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to accept my past and though I still deal with that anxiety, I’m getting better at recognising when it’s unwarranted. I think it’s important to be yourself and to live the life you want to. Trying to live up to other people’s expectations is exhausting. When you find and accept yourself, it becomes easier to love yourself.
There are some trippy noises (one that sounds like electric sparks in Jinn and some droid noises closing out Eclipse). How does your band go about sourcing fresh sounds? Are there any pieces musical equipment or instruments you used for the first time on this album?
Jon loves messing around with synthetic sounds and is heavily influenced by all sorts of electronic music. Drawing influence from genres and styles outside our own helps find new angles when it comes to writing. I know Jon tinkered with his OB-8 synthesiser for some of the sounds you hear throughout Alien but sometimes he’ll just mess around with a voice recording from his phone for hours and turn it into some haunting, ambient sounds. It’s always impressed me how he can manipulate audio.
Lyrical content throughout the album suggests survival against all odds, rising up and conquering evil influences (e.g. “You can’t make me disappear/You tried to break me, but I’m still here”; “I was raised in hell, but I made it out by myself”). Is there an overarching desire to uplift the downtrodden through your music and Alien in particular?
Absolutely. I know there are a lot of people who have grown up under very similar circumstances to me but feel like they’re alone in their experience. I think topics like domestic abuse and drug addiction aren’t talked about enough, the latter often glamourised or not taken seriously. Though this album is particularly dark in its themes, the fact that I’m still here and have been able to follow my dreams is the real positive that should be taken away from these songs. Anyone can overcome their past and I hope Alien can encourage that.
Alien by Northlane is out August 2 via UNFD.
Northlane are touring Australia October 11 – 20; head here for ticketing and date details.
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