Lanterns on the Lake were one of the first bands we played on Amazing Radio, back in the day. That is, a year and a half or so ago. We couldn't be happier to see them go on to sign with Bella Union and release their debut full length album (out 19th September). We invited them in to record live sessions of some of the album tracks. After the session we spoke to Hazel from the band.
So Lanterns on the Lake is a name I personally love, where did it come from?
I think it was just a case of it being the best of a very long list of names. Finding a name is the hardest thing I think a band has to go through - once you’ve got one the rest is easy.
You guys have been around the North-East for as long as I can remember, how did it all come together?
We got together nearly 4 years ago when me, Paul and Ol had some songs and some ideas about how to develop them. We asked both Brendan and Sarah to be part of it. I had known Sarah since we were at school together and I loved her violin playing. Brendan brought his brother Adam along to rehearsal one day and he’s been with us ever since. We all work very well together.
Being one of the first bands we ever played on Amazing Radio, we were thrilled when you guys joined the Bella Union family. Was it a big moment for you and how did it come around?
Yes, I remember you guys playing our very early demos. Thank you for that. Well, we were obviously over the moon to join the Bella Union family. It came about at the perfect time for us. We’d got to the point where we felt ready to make our debut album and we were talking about the possibility of having a label to help us put it out. At the time we were saying that in an ideal world Bella Union would be a wonderful label for us as we really loved what they were about. Right on cue, Simon Raymonde wrote to us and asked how we’d feel about working with them.
This has obviously led to you guys gigging a lot more and getting around all sorts of places, what would be your highlights so far?
One highlight has been End Of The Road festival this year. That was quite a special gig for us. Last year we were one of the unsigned bands who had applied and got the chance to play on one of the smaller stages. I think since that things happened very quickly for us with signing to Bella Union and everything and then we were invited back to play on the Big Top stage this year.
A lot of people turned up to see us, more than we’ve ever played to. It was such an amazing atmosphere and a very special moment to us. Playing at The Royal Festival Hall last week supporting John Grant was quite an experience too, it’s a huge and very beautiful venue. And SXSW in Texas was awesome earlier this year, I’d love to go back there.
Would you say you are a live band or a studio band?
I couldn’t choose, we love both for very different reasons.
You guys seemed to have a different setup of instruments for each track during the session, have you always tried experimenting with different arrangements or is it something that has come as you've progressed?
It’s really just how things turn out when we are recording and writing. We all tend to try different things on all the songs, just whatever we feel serves the song best I suppose.
So what's the most instruments you've ever used live?
Ha! We really do try to keep it as simple as possible live but we do tend to have quite a lot. I’ve seen many a soundman’s face drop when we pull up to a venue and start loading in.
So tell us about the new album what can we expect?
We recorded it in our homes, most of it was recorded and mixed in the spare bedroom at mine and Paul’s house. Some of the louder instruments were recorded in the basement of a shop on Heaton Road in Newcastle.
We made it around working full-time jobs and so it was quite tiring, especially for Paul who was producing it all. But you know, it was to be our debut album and maybe we’d only ever get to make one record so we kept going because it was important to us. It was an amazing feeling when we’d finished it and now it’s an exciting time for us with it coming out. We’re very proud of it and we hope that folk like it or get something out of it.
Being a band that we have seen flourish from local favourites to signing with a big independent label, what advice would you give to our other emerging artists?
I’m by no means an expert or anything, I’d mainly just say don’t take it all too seriously or focus on getting singed or getting radio play or any of those things. Nor do I think it’s healthy to pay too much mind to what other bands are doing or what ‘scensters’ think. It’s not a competition. I think it’s important to concentrate on creating something for yourselves and for the people who get something out of your music. Release music yourself if you can - it’s easy to do, or give it away, put on your own gigs and make them unique, be a band or artist that people can feel are special to them.
What's in store for you guys over the next 6 months?
We’ve just got home from a small run of shows including Bestival, End Of The Road and The Royal Festival Hall. We have lots more coming up. We’re going to be supporting Yann Tiersen on his UK tour which will include The Roundhouse in London and then in November we have our own headline tour covering the UK and Europe. It starts at The Sage in Gateshead on 1st November and finishes at King Tuts in Glasgow on 30th November. On top of that we have the record coming out next week (19th September) and we have some new songs and ideas that we’re going to try and work on when we get time.
Lastly how did you find your Amazing Session at Blank Studios?
We had a lovely day at Blank Studios. It was our first time playing some of those new songs in front of anyone so it was cool for us to do it in that way with you guys. Thank you for having us.
Check out more from Lanterns on the Lake at their amazingtunes.com profile and be sure to buy their debut album, out on Monday through Bella Union.