Interview - Talking All Things 'Obsidian' With Northlane's Marcus Bridge

  • Interview - Talking All Things 'Obsidian' With Northlane's Marcus Bridge
    POSTED 21 Apr 2022

    Northlane
    Credit: Kane Hibberd

    Aussie metalcore globe conquerors Northlane dropped their sixth full-length Obsidian today. Their most expansive and daring album yet. Obsidian was self-recorded and self-produced with the help of their longtime collaborator Chris Blancato, the sound Northlane have been working towards over the span of their career has been fully realised on Obsidian. Sonically spanning the gamut of their entire discography, Northlane’s signature bottom-heavy groove coexists side-by-side with fully-fledged EDM and techno, drum and bass, soaring guitar work and nostalgic atmospherics. It's this quest for fearless evolution that keeps Northlane a force in the world of heavy music.

    Created amidst the chaos of a still-unfolding pandemic in the idyllic surrounds of a cinema room of a house in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges, Obsidian is the sound of the mateship of Jon Deiley (guitar), Josh Smith (guitar), Nic Pettersen (drums) and Marcus Bridge (vocals) overcoming the physical, personal and psychological challenges that came their way post their ARIA award-winning Alien while battling the unpredictability of a world thrust into a state of seemingly endless chaos.  In that sense, Obsidian is ultimately the sound of hardwon triumph. Leading up to the release of Obsidian Maniacs spoke to vocalist Marcus Bridge about the process and pressures of making the record, the lyrical and musical exploration that inspired it and why Cold by Crossfade is the perfect wrestling entrance song. 

    Marcus, how are you doing in this new phase of our existence where Northlane actually get to play shows?

    "It is s all very exciting, being able to look forward to that again. I mean, for a long time, we had shows coming up, and then as they kept getting canceled,  it became one of those situations where I had to think "well, I'm not gonna really look forward to it until I'm actually just about to go on stage play the show". So now to finally have that and to be back doing it. It's a really good feeling."

    You've just played the Full Tilt Festival, in Melbourne,  I saw your headline set at that. One thing that struck me was the intensity of the crowd response to all of your material, the new stuff included. Were you happy with how it connected in that environment? 

    It was wild to see just everything kind of spanning from near the start of Northlane to through to these new songs really connecting with people.  I think it's kind of just showing people's excitement to get back to shows and people kind of just fiending for something new and something unfamiliar again.  It just felt good to be back in that environment.  For me, playing live is pretty much the most important part of writing music and performing music, so to be back doing it again, and in front of such an awesome crowd, it was big vibe.

    Big vibe is the perfect way to explain it. I was fortunate enough to both play that festival but then also experience most of the day as a fan. Seeing both sides of that and seeing just how happy both the bands and the audience were to be back in that environment was something I'll never forget. Live music is the only thing that makes me feel truly alive in the world and I'd imagine it's probably the same for you. Was it a trip to see people from all different walks of life back embracing one another and bonding over this one universal language that is music?

    100%.  That's such a wild phenomenon. To see people fully losing it next to people they don't know or maybe wouldn't ever hang out with outside of the show.  It's just an awesome vibe. Even just seeing people you haven't seen in a long time and feeling kinda safe to be in that environment again. Everything's feeling like it's going in a positive direction at the moment and we're heading heading towards something good.

    The most positive thing you're heading towards as a band of course is the release of your sixth full-length album Obsidian on April 22nd. How is the vibe in the Northlane camp knowing it is finally going to come out? 

    I'm feeling very excited to get back to it. This album came together during a rough time when were all struggling a little bit, so it is nice to revisit it now that we're heading in a good direction. It's good to relect on it and take in the fact that we are on the way up again.  Finally getting it out is really exciting. I guess we've been sitting on it for almost a year now, so it's been a little nerve wracking, but it is finally here.

    It is a very different album to Alien. It is yet another example of Northlane's sonic growth. I'm curious was there a certain sound you were inspired to pursue on this album? It definitely has a late '90s/early '00s feel in parts. Was that time period in heavy music a definitive or deliberate influence that informed the album?

    In terms of the sound, what we started exploring on Alien, Obsidian is us diving deeper into that. I think Jon in particular enjoys the sound of that late '90s, early 2000s electronic dance music, and I think with the response we got from our fans to Alien, it freed us up and sort of gave us permission to explore more of that influence. In that sense it feels like a natural progression in terms of us feeling comfortable in a new sound and developing it further and it exploring it more deeply."

    The writing process for Northlane has traditionally seen Jon compose a lot of the record, with the rest of you getting more involved once the initial canvas has been created. Did you follow the same process this time around?

    That is how it goes, Jon sets out an idea and for the most part at the core of it it'll be a Jon idea, then we all add our perspectives to it. I feel like as time has gone on, I've been able to slightly change structural things and have conversations. He'll be the same with vocal stuff, he'll want a certain vibe or sound for things and we'll work together and explore till we find the zone where we are both happy and comfortable with it. 

    Well, the old saying is "if it's not broken, don't fix it" and the record shows it is not broken! Speaking specifically to your contributions to the album, you've taken a different approach lyrically to the one you took with Alien. The anger on this one seems more external rather than personal in nature. Is that a fair interpretation and if so was that a definitive choice you made to shift focus?

    "It was partially that, but also a bit of a response to the backlash that I received from family and stuff and hearing people close to me be negative about it after we released Alien. Even though I thought that wasn't really fair, because it was just me talking about my experience, it didn't let me feel good or achieve the sense of catharsis that is meant to come with letting it go. Instead, it added weight to it. So as we moved forward, I wanted to be talking about personal stuff but I didn't want to dig deeper into the details.

    I feel like Clarity, the first song on the album is the last song that feels weaved into that, and then the rest of the album is me exploring kind of those anxious feelings that came from that experience. It's also me responding to being locked up with plenty of time to think about the things I was seeing in the world around me,  and a lot of that kind of was quite negative, I guess, so it came out in the songs. "

    The pessimistic element of it is definitely present, I won't dispute that, but to me, it seems more like an honest expression of where you were. Knowing that is the first step to being able to move forward. So in that sense, there is a little bit of optimism there, do you agree with that?  

    "It isn't a positive record in the traditional sense. It is more of a record about understanding negativity. In the end, it isn't all tied up with a neat little bow, it's still me going through that process. The last lyric of the record is "I need help" and while it's not overly positive it is me acknowledging that I still need to work on some stuff and address some demons, whatever they might be."

    "That was kind of a bit of a struggle for me to get wrap my head around because I did appreciate the way that Alien did have a positive message that at the end of all of this, I'd kind of made my way out of it."

    I think you've got an excuse. The whole world did shut down and your entire life got blown up. Your source of income, your ability to function as a human being, your emotional outlet, I think people will forgive bands for exploring some darker territory on albums that were created during that timeframe. 

    "I think people will relate to that too. Obviously, I don't think we've had it the hardest, I'm sure people have had a lot harder than we've had. So I'm not saying this is the worst stuff in the world. But I think it's still something that people will be like, Yeah, this is a feeling I was definitely also feeling for about a year"

    So far, so good it seems like people have connected with the singles, which is encouraging because they're all different explorations of this sound. One thing that stands out to me is the continued growth of your voice. Whether you're screaming or singing clean, there's always something new yet distinctly you present on each track. Are you feeling more confident in what your voice can do with each record? 

    "Absolutely. I feel like as each album cycle goes through,  I find new things within my voice and I guess parts that I'm exploring get stronger.  I don't think too hard about it, I'm just trying to do the best I can and sing as well as I can and explore new sounds. There's definitely some new things I've tried on this album, where I've felt free to explore some some weirder things that I would previously haved stepped away from.  It's always fun to explore your voice and try new things and see what you can make that thing do."

    You're about to head out on tour in support of Obsidian with plini, Sleep Token and alt. which is a stacked mixed bill that offers a bit of something for everyone, are you looking forward to cultivating a really unique vibe at these shows?

    "Big time. Having an international band coming over again feels surreal, I wasn't sure that was ever going to happen again. Having it be Sleep Token as well, that's a band that we've all listened to quite a lot over the last couple of years, so having them come over and bring that mystery over is a bit of fun. plini is such a chiller and I feel like whether you're into the shreddy type of guitar music or ambient stuff, you can't help but just vibe with it and then alt. are an awesome band from Adelaide, it's going to be massive. I'm really looking forward to it. "

    Now, before I let you go back to being you, doing what you do, Marcus, there are a few questions we ask everyone that chats to us at Maniacs, the first of which is outside of music, what is something you consider yourself to be a maniac for?

    Honestly, I'm just a maniac for music, I don't really do much else besides that. I play a lot of Fortnite, but I wouldn't consider myself a maniac for it. Playing other instruments and learning to play other instruments is something I'm a maniac for."

    If you could have a song play every time you entered the room, pro-wrestling style,  what song would you like it to be?

    "Oooh, that's a good question, I'm gonna say Cold by Crossfade. Mostly because I'm thinking of the entrance and having a big firework on that snare, and then I want to jump out of the ground like Rey Mysterio."

    I love it. Now as a vocalist, what three vocalists do you feel influenced your voice the most?

    "In terms of just how I sing, I picked up that I've jacked some pronunciation from Aaron Gillespie and Hayley Williams.  I sometimes do that. Underoath and The almost and Paramore were bands that I grew up really listening to all the time when I was a little emo kid, so I feel like they probably had a lot of influence. A third would be someone like Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. The things that you can do with his voice and his range and he has such an interesting tone to his voice as well. So he'd be up there as well. " 

    I mean, that makes sense to me, imagine if you put those three together. Imagine putting Hayley and Myles's vocals ranges in one voice, there'd be no limit to what you could create! 

    "Oh my gosh and you've also got a whole band there as well!" 

    All of those musicians have made solo records, which makes me wonder if there will ever be a Marcus Bridge solo record? 

    "I don't know if it would ever be so much a solo record, but more like another band or band style thing. Sort of like The Almost probably more so than doing an acoustic thing. I want to write rock and emo music at some point. So I think that'll happen, I'm just so pedantic, and prone to second-guessing everything I write, so it might take a couple of years, but we'll see."

    Obsidian is out now. 

    obsidian artwork

    1. Clarity
    2. Clockwork
    3. Echo Chamber
    4. Carbonized
    5. Abomination
    6. Plenty
    7. Is this a Test?
    8. Xen
    9. Cypher
    10. Nova
    11. Inamorata
    12. Obsidian
    13. Dark Solitaire

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Submitted by wordsbybrenton on Thu, 04/21/2022 - 06:27

Northlane
Credit: Kane Hibberd

Aussie metalcore globe conquerors Northlane dropped their sixth full-length Obsidian today. Their most expansive and daring album yet. Obsidian was self-recorded and self-produced with the help of their longtime collaborator Chris Blancato, the sound Northlane have been working towards over the span of their career has been fully realised on Obsidian. Sonically spanning the gamut of their entire discography, Northlane’s signature bottom-heavy groove coexists side-by-side with fully-fledged EDM and techno, drum and bass, soaring guitar work and nostalgic atmospherics. It's this quest for fearless evolution that keeps Northlane a force in the world of heavy music.

Created amidst the chaos of a still-unfolding pandemic in the idyllic surrounds of a cinema room of a house in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges, Obsidian is the sound of the mateship of Jon Deiley (guitar), Josh Smith (guitar), Nic Pettersen (drums) and Marcus Bridge (vocals) overcoming the physical, personal and psychological challenges that came their way post their ARIA award-winning Alien while battling the unpredictability of a world thrust into a state of seemingly endless chaos.  In that sense, Obsidian is ultimately the sound of hardwon triumph. Leading up to the release of Obsidian Maniacs spoke to vocalist Marcus Bridge about the process and pressures of making the record, the lyrical and musical exploration that inspired it and why Cold by Crossfade is the perfect wrestling entrance song. 

Marcus, how are you doing in this new phase of our existence where Northlane actually get to play shows?

"It is s all very exciting, being able to look forward to that again. I mean, for a long time, we had shows coming up, and then as they kept getting canceled,  it became one of those situations where I had to think "well, I'm not gonna really look forward to it until I'm actually just about to go on stage play the show". So now to finally have that and to be back doing it. It's a really good feeling."

You've just played the Full Tilt Festival, in Melbourne,  I saw your headline set at that. One thing that struck me was the intensity of the crowd response to all of your material, the new stuff included. Were you happy with how it connected in that environment? 

It was wild to see just everything kind of spanning from near the start of Northlane to through to these new songs really connecting with people.  I think it's kind of just showing people's excitement to get back to shows and people kind of just fiending for something new and something unfamiliar again.  It just felt good to be back in that environment.  For me, playing live is pretty much the most important part of writing music and performing music, so to be back doing it again, and in front of such an awesome crowd, it was big vibe.

Big vibe is the perfect way to explain it. I was fortunate enough to both play that festival but then also experience most of the day as a fan. Seeing both sides of that and seeing just how happy both the bands and the audience were to be back in that environment was something I'll never forget. Live music is the only thing that makes me feel truly alive in the world and I'd imagine it's probably the same for you. Was it a trip to see people from all different walks of life back embracing one another and bonding over this one universal language that is music?

100%.  That's such a wild phenomenon. To see people fully losing it next to people they don't know or maybe wouldn't ever hang out with outside of the show.  It's just an awesome vibe. Even just seeing people you haven't seen in a long time and feeling kinda safe to be in that environment again. Everything's feeling like it's going in a positive direction at the moment and we're heading heading towards something good.

The most positive thing you're heading towards as a band of course is the release of your sixth full-length album Obsidian on April 22nd. How is the vibe in the Northlane camp knowing it is finally going to come out? 

I'm feeling very excited to get back to it. This album came together during a rough time when were all struggling a little bit, so it is nice to revisit it now that we're heading in a good direction. It's good to relect on it and take in the fact that we are on the way up again.  Finally getting it out is really exciting. I guess we've been sitting on it for almost a year now, so it's been a little nerve wracking, but it is finally here.

It is a very different album to Alien. It is yet another example of Northlane's sonic growth. I'm curious was there a certain sound you were inspired to pursue on this album? It definitely has a late '90s/early '00s feel in parts. Was that time period in heavy music a definitive or deliberate influence that informed the album?

In terms of the sound, what we started exploring on Alien, Obsidian is us diving deeper into that. I think Jon in particular enjoys the sound of that late '90s, early 2000s electronic dance music, and I think with the response we got from our fans to Alien, it freed us up and sort of gave us permission to explore more of that influence. In that sense it feels like a natural progression in terms of us feeling comfortable in a new sound and developing it further and it exploring it more deeply."

The writing process for Northlane has traditionally seen Jon compose a lot of the record, with the rest of you getting more involved once the initial canvas has been created. Did you follow the same process this time around?

That is how it goes, Jon sets out an idea and for the most part at the core of it it'll be a Jon idea, then we all add our perspectives to it. I feel like as time has gone on, I've been able to slightly change structural things and have conversations. He'll be the same with vocal stuff, he'll want a certain vibe or sound for things and we'll work together and explore till we find the zone where we are both happy and comfortable with it. 

Well, the old saying is "if it's not broken, don't fix it" and the record shows it is not broken! Speaking specifically to your contributions to the album, you've taken a different approach lyrically to the one you took with Alien. The anger on this one seems more external rather than personal in nature. Is that a fair interpretation and if so was that a definitive choice you made to shift focus?

"It was partially that, but also a bit of a response to the backlash that I received from family and stuff and hearing people close to me be negative about it after we released Alien. Even though I thought that wasn't really fair, because it was just me talking about my experience, it didn't let me feel good or achieve the sense of catharsis that is meant to come with letting it go. Instead, it added weight to it. So as we moved forward, I wanted to be talking about personal stuff but I didn't want to dig deeper into the details.

I feel like Clarity, the first song on the album is the last song that feels weaved into that, and then the rest of the album is me exploring kind of those anxious feelings that came from that experience. It's also me responding to being locked up with plenty of time to think about the things I was seeing in the world around me,  and a lot of that kind of was quite negative, I guess, so it came out in the songs. "

The pessimistic element of it is definitely present, I won't dispute that, but to me, it seems more like an honest expression of where you were. Knowing that is the first step to being able to move forward. So in that sense, there is a little bit of optimism there, do you agree with that?  

"It isn't a positive record in the traditional sense. It is more of a record about understanding negativity. In the end, it isn't all tied up with a neat little bow, it's still me going through that process. The last lyric of the record is "I need help" and while it's not overly positive it is me acknowledging that I still need to work on some stuff and address some demons, whatever they might be."

"That was kind of a bit of a struggle for me to get wrap my head around because I did appreciate the way that Alien did have a positive message that at the end of all of this, I'd kind of made my way out of it."

I think you've got an excuse. The whole world did shut down and your entire life got blown up. Your source of income, your ability to function as a human being, your emotional outlet, I think people will forgive bands for exploring some darker territory on albums that were created during that timeframe. 

"I think people will relate to that too. Obviously, I don't think we've had it the hardest, I'm sure people have had a lot harder than we've had. So I'm not saying this is the worst stuff in the world. But I think it's still something that people will be like, Yeah, this is a feeling I was definitely also feeling for about a year"

So far, so good it seems like people have connected with the singles, which is encouraging because they're all different explorations of this sound. One thing that stands out to me is the continued growth of your voice. Whether you're screaming or singing clean, there's always something new yet distinctly you present on each track. Are you feeling more confident in what your voice can do with each record? 

"Absolutely. I feel like as each album cycle goes through,  I find new things within my voice and I guess parts that I'm exploring get stronger.  I don't think too hard about it, I'm just trying to do the best I can and sing as well as I can and explore new sounds. There's definitely some new things I've tried on this album, where I've felt free to explore some some weirder things that I would previously haved stepped away from.  It's always fun to explore your voice and try new things and see what you can make that thing do."

You're about to head out on tour in support of Obsidian with plini, Sleep Token and alt. which is a stacked mixed bill that offers a bit of something for everyone, are you looking forward to cultivating a really unique vibe at these shows?

"Big time. Having an international band coming over again feels surreal, I wasn't sure that was ever going to happen again. Having it be Sleep Token as well, that's a band that we've all listened to quite a lot over the last couple of years, so having them come over and bring that mystery over is a bit of fun. plini is such a chiller and I feel like whether you're into the shreddy type of guitar music or ambient stuff, you can't help but just vibe with it and then alt. are an awesome band from Adelaide, it's going to be massive. I'm really looking forward to it. "

Now, before I let you go back to being you, doing what you do, Marcus, there are a few questions we ask everyone that chats to us at Maniacs, the first of which is outside of music, what is something you consider yourself to be a maniac for?

Honestly, I'm just a maniac for music, I don't really do much else besides that. I play a lot of Fortnite, but I wouldn't consider myself a maniac for it. Playing other instruments and learning to play other instruments is something I'm a maniac for."

If you could have a song play every time you entered the room, pro-wrestling style,  what song would you like it to be?

"Oooh, that's a good question, I'm gonna say Cold by Crossfade. Mostly because I'm thinking of the entrance and having a big firework on that snare, and then I want to jump out of the ground like Rey Mysterio."

I love it. Now as a vocalist, what three vocalists do you feel influenced your voice the most?

"In terms of just how I sing, I picked up that I've jacked some pronunciation from Aaron Gillespie and Hayley Williams.  I sometimes do that. Underoath and The almost and Paramore were bands that I grew up really listening to all the time when I was a little emo kid, so I feel like they probably had a lot of influence. A third would be someone like Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. The things that you can do with his voice and his range and he has such an interesting tone to his voice as well. So he'd be up there as well. " 

I mean, that makes sense to me, imagine if you put those three together. Imagine putting Hayley and Myles's vocals ranges in one voice, there'd be no limit to what you could create! 

"Oh my gosh and you've also got a whole band there as well!" 

All of those musicians have made solo records, which makes me wonder if there will ever be a Marcus Bridge solo record? 

"I don't know if it would ever be so much a solo record, but more like another band or band style thing. Sort of like The Almost probably more so than doing an acoustic thing. I want to write rock and emo music at some point. So I think that'll happen, I'm just so pedantic, and prone to second-guessing everything I write, so it might take a couple of years, but we'll see."

Obsidian is out now. 

obsidian artwork

1. Clarity
2. Clockwork
3. Echo Chamber
4. Carbonized
5. Abomination
6. Plenty
7. Is this a Test?
8. Xen
9. Cypher
10. Nova
11. Inamorata
12. Obsidian
13. Dark Solitaire

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Interview - Talking All Things 'Obsidian' With Northlane's Marcus Bridge

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