Lower Than Atlantis
As Lower Than Atlantis wound down the campaign for their third album, Changing Tune, the band found themselves at something of a crossroads.
To the outside world, Changing Tune – LTA’s 2012 major label debut – had been the breakthrough record for this most beloved of British rock bands. It cracked the UK Top 30, helped the band fill venues the size of Shepherd’s Bush Empire with delirious fans, made waves in America and established frontman Mike Duce as that rarest of rockstar breeds: one in possession of equal amounts of mouth and trousers.
But, behind the scenes, things looked less rosy. Changes at their label saw LTA – always slightly surprised to find themselves on a major – returned to independence, albeit with a few quid in their back pockets for their trouble.
But weighing heavier on the band’s collective mindset was the thought of exactly where their lives were going. Mike was dealing with a relationship break-up and, as LTA – completed by guitarist Ben Sansom, drummer Eddy Thrower and bassist Dec Hart – entered their mid-twenties contemplating what looked like a return to rock career square one, many of their friends and peers were settling down with steady jobs and young families.
“We were thinking, ‘Do we want that?’” admits Mike. “‘Cos if we do, now’s the time to probably call it a day…”
Thankfully, Mike had been in this sort of situation before. Before he formed Lower Than Atlantis in 2007, he worked as a labourer. His boss would regularly offer to pay for him to go to college and get his bricklaying qualifications. Equally regularly, Mike would turn him down.
“I needed a shit job that I hated and paid me fuck all, to give me the drive to do what I actually wanted to do,” he says. “I lost some of that drive along the way, but now I had something to prove again…”
And Lower Than Atlantis’ fourth, self-titled album provides all the evidence Mike’s ex-girlfriend, former label and the wider world will ever need that this is a band about to take a major step up. The band invested their post-major label exit windfall into their studio and into self-financing another album and Mike – who had already been honing his writing skills composing for pop acts such as Five Seconds Of Summer (their #1 hit), an X Factor contestant and more to come– set about constructing the songs that will, in his words, make them or break them.
“We treated this album as if it was going to be our last,” he says, conviction pulsing through his every syllable. “We threw caution to the wind and thought, ‘Fuck it, we’ll just make an album that we want to make’. It’s probably our last shot. If things don’t go big, then I guess we probably will think about calling it a day…”
The record was released in October 2014 after the run-away success of lead single ‘Here We Go’. The latter spending 6 weeks on the Radio 1 A-List and selling over 50,000 copies worldwide.
A top 20 album, followed by two glorious and entirely sold out UK tours, has cemented the bands places as darlings of the UK rock scene. Four Radio 1 playlists ,including another A-List on single Criminal, and TWO Radio 1 Live Lounges have all helped to cap Lower Than Atlantis’ meteoric rise on this bold self titled release.
Recording at their own pace in their own studio in Watford, and re-teaming with producer (and Mike’s non-LTA songwriting partner) Dan Lancaster, who had helmed the band’s much-cherished 2010 Far Q debut, Mike turned emotional and vocational uncertainty into LTA’s most convincing set of songs yet.
So Lower Than Atlantis positively fizzes with musical ambition, lyrical wit, crossover potential and carpe diem spirit. And songs, brilliant songs. From the us-against- the-world bravado of English Kids In America (likely to become the anthem for any
homegrown gang touring the US) to the reflective closer ‘Number One’, Lower Than Atlantis is the sound of a band determined to give everything they’ve got in search of glory. It’s reflective of a band who’ve grown up (“I’m 25,” says Mike, “It’s time to stop acting like a fucking child – I’m definitely less of a nutter”) without growing old (“Don’t worry,” says Mike, “I won’t stop being mouthy – I calls them as I sees them”). And, whether you’re looking for brilliantly accessible rock anthems (Emily, Here We Go) or heartbreakingly direct break-up songs (Ain’t No Friend Of Mine), LTA delivers. Mike unflinchingly documents his unhappy experiences, both professional (Criminal) and personal (Words Don’t Come So Easily), but in a way that anyone and everyone will relate to. And, just as his lyrics have become more universal, and as LTA’s melodies reach peaks of infectiousness rarely scaled by punk rock geezers from Watford, so the band’s musical palate has expanded.
“There’s only so far you can go with four blokes playing guitars, bass and drums,” smiles Mike. “And now was the time to do whatever the fuck we wanted.” Consequently, an electronic edge snakes through the album, while the addition of strings, dance beats and even – at one stage – some convincing neo-rapping elevates LTA far above most of their rock peers.
“I know this sounds really egotistical,” he grins, “But I would hate my existence on this planet to just be another cog helping society tick over. I need to leave some sort of mark or imprint, otherwise I might as well just not be alive.”
And against all odds, LTA aren’t just alive, but kicking harder than Solange Knowles in a Met Ball elevator. And, with the rock album of the summer under their belts, Lower Than Atlantis are finally ready to go higher than the sun.
The world is now Lower Than Atlantis’ for the taking, with radio hits, sold out tours and spine tingling festival performances…they’re coming for you…
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS ARE: Mike Duce – Vocals / Guitar Ben Sansom – Guitar Eddy Thrower – Drums Dec Hart – Bass