WORDS: CORAL JAMES ADAMSON
Since releasing ‘Playing With Fire’ back in April, Madina Lake have been getting ready to launch their new E.P ‘The Beginning of New Endings’. Whilst we got locked away in our homes; going through the many phases of lockdown, the band were finalising the E.P. Now, they’re itching for the pandemic to end, so they can play to a real audience, opposed to the virtual they’re currently used to.
Calling from sunny Florida, in an airport car park, a very humble man, who can’t thank everyone enough for their support throughout the conversation, was Nathan Leone (vocals) who’d just dropped off his bandmate and twin brother Matthew Leone (bass guitar) before chatting about why now’s the time for Madina Lake to resurface. Over their almost decade long break, the band have started families, moved across States and Countries, working relatively normal jobs, but for Leone it was “really difficult to adjust to a life without writing music together-without performing”. The band members would “periodically” meet up and work on Madina material so they always knew a comeback would happen. It took a few years of tinkering, for the band to finally be ready to share the music and then lockdown happened. They: “at least wanted to release a few songs and check the temperature…and we’re really happy with the way people reacted, so we decided we were gonna go for it and finished up and E.P”.
““ We had to relearn the industry, we’ve been out of it for almost 10 years and it’s changed so much.”
After spending years working on music together, it’s strange they didn’t just go for a full album; especially as lockdown meant extra time to work on new material. However, as the band was gone for so long they felt a little out of touch: “ We had to relearn the industry, we’ve been out of it for almost 10 years and it’s changed so much.” Behind an almost embarrassed chuckle, he continued: “I was even Googling how do you even release music these days.” Taking their time to research the current scene, they found attention spans had changed, so thought a shorter release more appropriate. It also provides the opportunity to “bridge the gap” between their old trilogy and a “new concept”. New concept? They haven’t even released this E.P yet and they’re five songs into a new album! He teases some spoilers for what’s to come in “Superbia”. Shaking his head, as he scrambles looking for alternative ways to describe it, he settles on: “It’s going to sound cliché as I describe it. It’s kind of the seven deadly sins; playing on the state of the world, there seems to be a lot of tension in the air…we want to delve into that on the next record and our own feelings/interpretation on that.”
For a man who thinks: “It’s a weird existence when what you do depends on you being relatively miserable”; thoughts he expresses with regards to terrible anxiety and stage fright, he must feel nervous as there’s more pressure to get it right when only releasing a handful of songs; he exclaims “Oh yes! Without question. That pressure keeps me up at night more than anything else. I’m very hard on myself and given limited resources (he references the large distance that separates the band members and not being able to work together in a studio) the pressure is that much harder to overcome.”
“It’s a weird existence when what you do depends on you being relatively miserable”
It’s not all stress though, he’s grateful for having a creative ambition to focus on in lockdown, because “speaking for myself, there’s been a big void when you don’t have a creative outlet; that’s been a real struggle. I feel more and more like myself now.” Playing live shows and connecting with fans face-to-face also makes up for the fear apparently, which is why he wants to be touring again, “I’m dreading every time someone says the new normal (he uses air quotes that shake the video as his phone moves), I’m like hell no! This is not the new normal, we’re not going to live in cages the rest of our lives.”
Given how unnerved he appears to get by all this change and what he said about attention spans changing, it’s interesting that they’ve made a song – ‘Tiny Weapons’ – that spans well over eight minutes in length. What were they thinking? Laughing away, seeing the conundrum, he admits: “It turns out we weren’t thinking. The song just kept coming and we were enjoying where it was at so we decided to grant ourselves the audacity. We’re not consciously trying to push the boundaries of our musical abilities; we’re just comfortable with who we are as a band.” He makes it clear that the band will, “continue to write and make music as long as there’s somebody on the end who wants to hear it. That’s the extent of our ambition.”