Interview: Madina Lake
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 07:14:36
These days, you've got to give fans more, and that includes playing at Hooters. "We're somewhere in South Florida on our way to our first-ever Hooters acoustic show. It's the little perks that count," laughs Madina Lake frontman Nathan Leone. Madina Lake could rock a packed theater or America's favorite wing spot; it doesn't matter because they've got the style and songs to light up any crowd. Their sophomore album, Attics to Eden, drops on April 28th, and it's emotionally charged anthemic alt rock is infectious and thought provoking. Nathan took some time to talk to ARTISTdirect.com in this exclusive interview about Attics, philosophy and much more.
Did you approach Attics to Eden differently than your last record? How did everything come together?
It's funny. They say, "You have your whole life to write your first record, and you have a couple of months to write your second record." By and large, that can be difficult a lot of times. However, for us, it worked to our advantage because we didn't have any time to second-guess what we were doing. On the first record cycle, we had been categorized as pop punk and emo in many places, and that really bothered us because we never saw ourselves that way. When we went in to write Attics, we had a little bit of animosity towards that. It forced us to push the envelope as far as we could in terms of genre. It helped result in a really dynamic record. All 12 songs are different from one another. A little bit of that animosity and the limited time we had to work on the album really helped shape it.
At the same time, it's a very cohesive record.
That's great that translated. One of the standards we try to maintain as a band when we're writing is to completely tune out the outside world in terms of whatever's scene-y, trendy, popular or going to work at radio. When you start focusing on that kind of thing, it really perverts what your doing, and it makes your art or your music un-genuine. Adhering to that standard, every song we wrote—whether it was inspired by pop, electronica or metal—has the same vibe because it was coming from the same passion and honesty. The sentiment carries through regardless of style.
You've crafted a lore around the band with the larger narrative. What was the inspiration behind that?
Nowadays, there are a billion bands and a trillion songs. That fact puts the onus on bands to give more and be as creative as possible. We thought it would be cool to create this storyline that allows us to introduce characters and different events as a metaphor for the things we believe in and have experienced in our lives. We really wanted to be as creative as possible with the band. If you want to dig a little deeper, there's a lot more underneath that we do creatively that someone can get into if they want to. We don't put it at the forefront of who we are though. We don't want to be this concept band, but, at the same time, the storyline that goes along with the records is really important to us. We're proud of where that's at right now.
There's a place for fans to go in this world.
Ever since we were kids, music was like this imaginary world where you could fit yourself into songs, and you could identify with lyrics. It was always an escape for me. Anything that was annoying was dissolved once you got hidden behind headphones. With that intention in mind, creating an imaginary world to go along with the music was a different idea.
It's a very vivid world. Do you watch a lot of movies too?
No more than anyone else. We all read quite a bit—philosophy for the most part. We spend pretty much every day in the van, trading books about guys like Edgar Tolle and having conversations about different ways to look at life and to live experiences. That shaped more of the storyline aspect than anything else did.
Did the album artwork fit into that?
I was chatting with an ex-girlfriend from high school about Dr. Seuss's secret art. He actually had this collection of badass paintings, and it turned out she had one. They're super expensive [Laughs]. She told me to check out this other guy that's relatively new on the art scene. She referred me to this guy, Victor Lynden. She told me she just bought this print from him. Everyone in the band was blown away by him. On a whim, I emailed him and told him about our band and the record and the storyline. He emailed me the next day, and we started this relationship talking about art, music and philosophy. At the end of the day, we worked out a trade where he would essentially paint our cover art, and in turn we would bring this song that he had to life for him. He sent us the lyrics and some key changes and notes and he wanted us to make a song out of it. It was straight up barter. We traded art for art. No money was exchanged whatsoever [Laughs]. It was really cool.