THE LATHUMS – Interview

Foto-© Theresa Liebl

Ganz klar eine Band dieses Jahrzehnts sind The Lathums. Die Indie-Rocker aus Wigan nehmen das Publikum im Vollrausch der Euphorie mit. Das Leben da oben im Norden Englands war noch nie einfach und ist durch Brexit, Pandemie und höhere Lebenshaltungskosten noch diffiziler geworden. Egal, dachten sich die Jungs. Sie malten 2021 auf ihrem Debüt How Beautiful Life Can Be alles bunt an. Die Musikfans zu Hause waren begeistert, das Album erreichte die Spitze der britischen Charts.

Seitdem sind 18 Monate vergangen. Nun zeigt sich, dass bei der Band trotz des Erfolgs nicht alles rosig verläuft. Ein Indikator ist der Abgang von Bassist Johnny Cunliffe, über den die Band alles gesagt hat. Beim Interview Anfang Januar in Berlin sitzt Matty Murphy an seiner Stelle. Er ist neben Sänger Alex Moore, Gitarrist Scott Concepcion und Schlagzeuger Ryan Durrans nun festes Mitglied. Alex ist der Mann, um den sich vieles dreht. Er ist der Leader, spricht ausführlich über Probleme, die er im Leben schon hatte und die ihn, wie er findet, manchmal unausstehlich machen. Auf dem neuen Album From Nothing To A Little Bit More spricht er über Kämpfe, die ihn plagen. Er verarbeitet eine begonnene und wieder beendete Beziehung. Und er stellt sich die Frage, ob er das alles wirklich verdient, was er mit The Lathums gerade erlebt.

Songs und Arrangements lassen nicht unbedingt auf Krisen schließen. Es ist und bleibt Popmusik, die alle erreichen soll, kein verquerer Indie-Kram. Say My Name, fordert Alex lautstark und man möchte sofort einstimmen. Die Band, sagt er, soll die beste werden, die es auf der Welt gibt. Das ist das erklärte Ziel. Wir hatten die Gelegenheit, ihn und die Band in Berlin zu befragen. Und bekamen Antworten.

How did you find the time to make another record, 18 months after the release of the first one, being on tour and all that?
Alex: We wrote so many new songs. There‘s also a back catalogue of older songs on which we continue to work. We always need to keep ourselves busy, write new material, that‘s our job. The more we get done now, the better it will stand us in the future.

The new album From Nothing To A Little Bit More was announced as „an act of rebellion having seen the rules of the game“. What are the rules that are bothersome for you?
Ryan: There‘s the rule that you have to fit in with what‘s popular at the minute. This is very odd, because we‘re musicians and not soldiers at a military parade. Bands in the music scene don‘t have to move in the same direction all the time. We‘re quite happy to stick to our guns.
Alex: I must say since we‘ve started this there have been bumps in the road, but in everything put together nothing really bad has actually happened. We‘ve had a very easy journey, a happy journey without any problems that have been detrimental to the band. There are things that can happen in any job, it‘s the same here.

Your original bass player Johnny Cunliffe has left the band.
Alex: We‘ve published a statement on that online, there‘s nothing we need to add. He‘s gone, that‘s it.

Your first album topped the UK album charts, you went on tour right after the pandemic. It was all good and positive. Other weren‘t quite so happy, like Yard Act or Arlo Parks. They felt knackered after too many shows and needed a break. Did you get the feeling that things are going a bit too fast for the band?
Alex: For me, the journey we‘re on, is going to be fast. We want to take it to the top and be the band of this era. If you want to be the only band, you have to go through them things and earn it. We‘ve had times where we‘ve all been saying: I don‘t want to be here, I want to go home. There‘s been certain things like illnesses or down-and-out feelings, but at the same time we know that this is our job, it‘s what we do, it‘s how we provide for our families. A bricklayer is not going to say I‘m not going to bother, I‘m going to have a month off and no pay, you can‘t do that. I feel that it‘s not a good mentality to have that and there‘s a lot of that in music where people think it should easy, I don‘t have to do that. We‘ve got the easiest job in the world, also the best job in the world. For people to come out like that and complain about it, I need time off, I need to head home, it‘s your job, man! Everyone else will work way longer hours and work way more physically than we ever will for less money. How can you complain?

Life has to be pretty crap in the UK at the moment. Brexit is a part of everyday life, you get governed by prime ministers you didn‘t vote for. How do you react to that part of the reality when you‘re writing lyrics?
Alex: I don‘t want to be seen as a political person. Politics can be a distraction, its issues haven‘t got anything to do with the music. It‘s important for me to focus on myself and my emotions, they are the root for a song. I want to make people happy. But at the same time I want to be honest and say yes, there are a lot of things I don‘t like in my country. It‘s a frustrating place to live in very often. We had a chat when we got off the plane in Berlin. There are two lines at the border control at the airport, one for EU passports and one for the Brexiteers we‘re unfortunately part of. We spoke about the people that made the decision to leave. It might not matter for them in 20 years, because they might no be on the planet anymore. For us as young 20-year olds it is our future and we want to connect with people. I don‘t want to sit in England all my life and not experience anything else. I want to go to France, Germany, Spain, I want to see everything and speak to people and experience the culture. Some of the European dates have been one of the best dates in my life, like another world. In the UK they‘re dividing us even more when there‘s no need to be. I don‘t want that in my life and I don‘t want that as a songwriter. There‘s one golden rule and that‘s peace and love, that‘s what I want people to feel.

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Let‘s talk about the new album a bit. The first was called How Beautiful Life Can Be. The new one starts with the song Struggle. What kind of struggle is it that sets the tone for the record?
Alex: It‘s a personal struggle about figuring out, figuring me out, my life, the world around me. When I started the band I wasn‘t a very nice person to be honest. I was a very angry person. I had to learn how to speak and communicate with people. Everybody has those kind of traumas, issues that affect them. I lost someone from my family when I was quite young, it was my dad. For me the struggle was and is understanding life and accepting it. I was angry and sad, but then I pulled myself into the music. It helped me to become the person that I am now. The struggle is not only about my life, it can be struggles other people have losing people and also finding people and one‘s own personality. When you listen to the words, hopefully it takes you to that place where you want to be. I find writing stuff down is mad, how it makes you feel. It makes you so upset reading what you just wrote from you mind, but afterwards you can take it away from your heart and leave it on the paper. I‘ve never written things down before, now I know it‘s therapeutic and a dead good thing.

Another element is the guitar playing. You‘re not rocking out in the classic sense, but there are guitar solos in some of the songs like Say My Name or Artificial Screen.
Scott: It‘s interesting you say that. Everyone in Europe appreciates the guitar trade a lot more than in the UK, which is brilliant for me as guitarist, of course. Sometimes people even sing along to the riff. It almost gives you a sense of vindication when that happens. This is one of the reasons why we love travelling as musicians. You get a different reception in foreign countries. This is vital for our development.

Soul music is an influence in tracks like I Know and Lucky Bean. Soul music was always big in Wigan in the Northern Soul era. Why does that style of music make sense for you now?
Alex: I fell in love, pal, I fell in love with a beautiful girl and it made see things differently and made me write different songs. She is a musician too. Often I write about what is bad in life. There are all these dark tones on the album, but I also I wanted to create a shining light coming through. On the first album it was a happy journey I wanted people to come on with us and share that. Now we‘ve lived a bit more and there are things that have happened, we‘ve grown up.

In Turmoil we hear piano playing. It‘s a ballad too. Something we didn‘t expect on a Lathums record. How did this one come about?
Alex: I have to mention John Kettle here. He was the tutor at the music college we went to. He is a genius and also our musical mentor. The piano melody you can hear in the song is the result of an idea John had. He switched it from a tune I made for the band on a guitar to a piano song. When we went in to record it properly, we got a proper pianist coming in to replay the melody John Kettle wrote. It‘s a different realm to be in. We‘re not a one-trick pony, we want to embrace other things. We always have guitars, there‘s no getting around that. At the same time it‘s great to implement other sounds from different places, there are brass and strings on the album as well.

Undeserving is the last song on the album. It‘s 8 minutes long and a bit prog.
Alex: It is indeed. It‘s why a couple of songs got dropped. I was adamant we need an eight-minute song at the end. For me it sums up the journey from when we very first started to record an album two. I could never even fathom a couple of years ago that I‘d be literally travelling the world doing things that I love, people wanting to speak to us and having fun and enjoying our music. Sometimes I feel I don‘t deserve it, because I haven‘t done anything. Why should we get this opportunity and not other people? What makes us deserve it? What are we going to do to prove that we are worth it and that we can do good in the world? I feel that‘s a nice way to leave off the second album. It‘s also the starting point for the next step we make.

The Lathums Tour:
30.03.23 Berlin, Privatclub
01.04.23 München, Strom
04.04.23 Köln, Luxor

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