From early shows in empty bars and alongside metal bands, to selling out Brixton Academy and beyond, British quartet Lower Than Atlantis have progressed from hardcore-punk outliers to one of the core pegs of the UK’s ever-growing rock scene. Today, they’ve announced their return to Slam Dunk Festival, with the band set to appear in Hatfield, Leeds and Birmingham to wrap up their latest run in support of 2017 LP ‘Safe In Sound’.
In the midst of a UK tour of intimate, off-the-beaten-track venues, NME caught up with frontman Mike Duce at a hometown Watford show, to talk early tours, bigger venues, and their longstanding relationship with Slam Dunk.
- Read more: Slam Dunk 2018 line-up
You’re back in some pretty small venues for this tour – how it been so far?
Mike Duce: It’s been great. You’ll show up at a venue, and it’s like, ‘Oh, the PA don’t work! There’s no bus power!’, or you’ll wonder if the show’s gonna be any good – is anyone gonna fuckin’ come? We were playing in fuckin’ Pontypridd in Wales! It’s been sick every night, it’s been bangin’. It feels like the tours we used to do, back in the day, but with that little extra bit of comfort.
You spent plenty of years playing smaller, ‘toilet circuit’ shows alongside bands like Deaf Havana and Young Guns. Do you keep the spirit of those days with you?
I feel like some of our mates have lost it, and it pisses me the fuck off. Because everything’s been so gradual for us – we’ve been a band for 11 years, and everything been a slow burn – we appreciate stuff a lot. Most of our peers do as well, but yeah. I think you’d have to have dickhead tendencies to become a full dickhead, diva – ‘Do this, get me this, do this.’
You did some early, strange tours alongside metal bands in America – you’ve really had to graft through it.
Some of the people on those tours! We did a US tour with Asking Alexandria and Emmure, and people were literally fighting their way to the front, pushing their way to the front, to spit at me and stick their fingers up at me. I just had to sing through it! It was awful, every night I was really doubting myself as a human, let alone my musical ability.
Obviously things have changed – I saw the other day that you said Bath was an unexpected highlight of this tour.
It was madness. That’s the perfect example – we showed up, and there was no subs for the PA, so we had to hire in. There was no barrier, so we were like ‘People are gonna fuckin’ die, you need to hire a barrier!’ And then we lost power to the lighting rig, and our crew were running around screaming – we had to cut our soundcheck, because we didn’t have time! Everyone was like, ‘This is gonna be horseshit, a trainwreck.’ But it was sick!
And you’ve got Slam Dunk coming up!
Man, I didn’t even realise where we were playing on the bill – it’s like, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, and us. Mad! I feel like I can almost go and speak to Jimmy Eat World… I won’t! I won’t say anything. I’ll bottle it.
Your older song ‘Taping Songs Off The Radio’ references them in the lyrics…
Oh, fuck! I didn’t even think about that. We’ve taken it out of the set, man. We were playing four or five older songs – this has happened before. It’s just people who drink energy drinks and live in their mum’s house and play Warhammer who go, ‘Yo, play your old songs, you’re fuckin’ shit now!’ This is the third time that we’ve put some of those older songs in the set and the crowd just dies. We’ve been playing one old song from our first album, because the people that ‘care’, don’t come to shows. But maybe we will play ‘Taping…’ Maybe that’s my in…
You’ve played Slam Dunk so many times – what are your presiding memories of it?
Oh mate, I don’t wanna incriminate myself… [laughs] It’s gonna be fun, because most of our mates are at it. Most of our mates are in bands, and we’re all touring, so we don’t really see each other that much. It’s nice to have everyone in one place – people like Jamesy from Deaf Havana, Gus from Young Guns, they’re genuinely our best friends. It’ll be nice to actually see each other.
You’ve all gone from playing to like, 10 people back in the day, to selling out tours across the country.
Yeah, it’s sick. It’s always a laugh, and if [Slam Dunk organiser] Ben Ray said, ‘Come and play 100 songs in my fuckin’ nan’s bedroom, and I’ll pay you 10p’, I’d do it anyway.
Lower Than Atlantis play the following UK shows next month:
03 Oxford, O2 Academy
04 Reading, Sub 89
05 Wrexham, Central Station
07 Liverpool, Hangar 34
08 Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
09 Edinburgh, Liquid Rooms
11 Middlesbrough, Empire
12 Hull, The Welly Club
13 York, Fibbers
14 Sheffield, Plug
26 Leeds, Slam Dunk North Festival
27 Hatfield, Slam Dunk South Festival
28 Birmingham, Slam Dunk Midlands Festival