The Lathums are truly relishing the prospect of releasing an album without the lingering threat of lockdowns or COVID-enforced restrictions dampening the party — such was the backdrop to the arrival of their 2021 debut ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’.
“There’s a lot more people [listening] now, which is very good for us. The reaction has more than doubled,” frontman Alex Moore tells NME over Zoom. “We’re just waiting for the album to come out now, so we can take the next step. We’re excited to be able to play it [live]. This has been our only traditional release: we started when the world was crazy, really.” Drummer Ryan Durrans chips in: “When the world was crazier.”
Not that the pandemic hampered The Lathums’ lofty ambitions too much, mind. After signing to Island Records in early 2020, the band’s debut LP shot straight to the top of the UK Albums Chart in October 2021, toppling Drake of all people from the Number One slot. “We will take on anybody in any big area!” Moore adds now about that memorable chart victory. “You can’t keep this music down.”
The Wigan four-piece, who are completed by guitarist Scott Concepcion and newly inducted bassist Matty Murphy, are currently gearing up for the release of their second album, ‘From Nothing To A Little Bit More’, on March 3. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele, Kasabian), the new record sees The Lathums explore darker lyrical themes that cover such topics as break-ups, bereavement and grief, while also demonstrating the self-proclaimed “step up” they’ve taken in terms of their songwriting and overall creative approach.
NME caught up with The Lathums to discuss the open-hearted vulnerability of their new record, preparations for their biggest headline show to date and the advice they received from The Killers’ Brandon Flowers.
NME: ‘From Nothing To A Little Bit More’ is The Lathums’ most personal and honest record to date. Was that always the intention?
Alex Moore: “What’s the point in putting so much into something that you’re not genuinely passionate about? I think it’s quite refreshing that people can see that there’s genuine feelings behind these songs, not like a lot of music that’s out nowadays that’s got no emotion or substance behind it. You can tell those people are singing about what they think people want [to hear]. But I don’t give you what you want: I give you what you need.”
Are you confident that your fans will connect with the emotional depth of your new material?
Alex: “I hope so. A lot of people have given us a lot of really good responses, expressing how much these new songs mean to them and have impacted their day-to-day lives. I feel like it’s just going to get bigger and bigger. It’s not just our die-hard, hardcore fans, either: it’s people that have only just stumbled on us now, from all different walks of life.”
Given the heavy topics covered, how important was it for everyone in The Lathums to support one another through this creative process?
Alex: “I think that’s more of a constant thing, really. We’re together all of the time: 80% of that time we’re in very intense situations that we have to either get sorted there and then, or talk through it and get it sorted before it runs away from us.
“Personally speaking, even from the beginning [of the band] it’s not been easy for a young lad [like me] to express their feelings. But there were never any smirks or giggles from the lads, it was just like, ‘He’s feeling this, so I’m gonna feel it as well’. It’s always been like that. Maybe in the early days I was a bit worried about certain things that I wanted to say to people that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing, but that quickly went away because of these lads. In my head, they were just like, ‘He’s just writing tunes, he likes them and I want to be involved in that’. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh God, here’s another tune, here’s another soppy one’. We’re all very good to each other, I think.”
As a band, are you more closely bonded than ever?
Alex: “I mean, we’re going to take over the world together – so we have to be as tight-knit as we possibly can. Over the past couple of months, we’ve definitely become way more closer and open about things. I think we look after each quite well, especially considering that we’re still quite young.”
Alex, you recently described yourself as a “sad and strange” person and songwriter. Why is that?
Alex: “I don’t think I am, I know it! I’ve always felt a bit different to the masses — which is not a bad thing — and I used to be a bit insecure about it, but I got over that pretty quickly. It’s better to be your own person and try to not follow any trends or anything like that. I just know that I’m a pretty strange guy in certain regards… I think a lot of people are strange. What’s the norm, really?”
The final track on the new album, ‘Undeserving’, is eight minutes long — is it the longest song you’ve ever written?
Alex: “Not the longest song I’ve written, but, yes, the longest one we’ve recorded. Eight minutes is a good chunk of time! I had the main idea and narrative of it. I find this a lot with [writing] songs: there’s too many avenues [to go down] and ideas to fit into one song, [so] it can get completely muddled. But it was nice to just keep going and going, but it was mostly improvised — that’s probably why it ended up being so long. The words are improvised, so you have to fit the length with the words. But if the story’s not finished, it’ll be incomplete.”
Do you think you’ll ever play it live?
Ryan Durrans: “We’ll have to cut about three tunes out of the setlist…”
Alex: “At some point, if fate decides it — I’m not opposed to playing it live at all. Though I do think it’d be quite a lot for a person to stand there for eight minutes straight and take in all of that music. I think it’s more something that you should sit down and listen to it yourself.”
You previously predicted to NME that you’d clinch the Number One spot with your debut album. What are your ambitions with album two?
Alex: “Personally, I feel like we’ve already outdone ourselves massively. With our first album it wasn’t the goal to get Number One, but it was an affirmation of our first real step into music. We wanted to see if the people agreed, and it turns out they agreed very, very strongly. With album two, I’m happy that we’ve brought our music to so many different places and people. I’m not saying I don’t want a Number One, I’ll take it! I’d be very happy with that. But the feeling I get from people is way more important than any accolades. The life that we’re living, being on tour and stuff like that, meeting people: that’s the real stuff that gets you going, not a trophy.”
Matty, how pleased are you to now be an official member of The Lathums?
Matty Murphy: “Buzzing, it’s been amazing. It’s definitely what I’ve always wanted to do as a musician. So doing it with people that I really get on with and who I’ve grown really close to, it’s been a pleasure so far.”
Alex: “We know each other’s beats per minute and everything!”
Ryan: “What has Matty brought to The Lathums? He’s brought everything so far.”
Alex: “The smell, the looks, the sex appeal, the ingenuity. Mate, he’s got it all. And he plays the bass really well!”
You’re playing your biggest headline show to date at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl in June — do you have anything special planned?
Alex: “It’s our biggest show by like 5000 [people]!”
Scott Concepcion: “It’s more than double our biggest gig, I think.”
Alex: “Get your tickets now, because they won’t be around much longer.”
Ryan: “We’re gonna get the Red Arrows to fly over during our set.”
Alex: “During a solo, Scott’s gonna ascend: he’s just gonna start flying. We’re gonna spend all of our budget on Scott flying.”
You’re also joining the festival circuit this summer. Are you confident The Lathums can become festival headliners in the near future?
Alex: “Can we do it? Course we can!”
Ryan: “It’s not up to us though, really. It’s up to the festivals and the fans: if we don’t have enough fans, no-one will book us.”
Alex: “But put us on any stage anywhere, and we will fulfil. That’s all we do: we’re not even people any more, we’re just musical notes. We’re just part of the music.”
The Killers covered ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’ with Alex during shows in Vienna and Amsterdam last summer. That’s quite the endorsement…
Alex: “It was more inspiring, the fact that [Flowers] took the time to come and speak to us. He said, ‘You write great choruses’ and stuff like that. He was a proper gentleman. That’s how I want people who represent our industry to be: they don’t think they’re above anything. He was really encouraging to us, and said lots of nice things. You only get to live that kind of thing — going on stage with The Killers — once, so I’m sorted now, me.”
Might Brandon Flowers join The Lathums on stage at the Castlefield Bowl?
Alex: “Maybe! I think he’ll have some more important things to do. But he’s always welcome with us.”
The Lathums’ new album ‘From Nothing To A Little Bit More’ is set for release on March 3