Interview with Ben Sansom of Lower Than Atlantis

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Interview by Rob Moody

Midlands Rocks’ Rob Moody catches up with guitarist Ben Sansom prior to their October show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms.

 

Rob: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us this evening – how has the tour been going so far?

Ben: It’s been really good. We’ve been playing longer sets than on previous tours, so it’s been a bit different because of that, but it’s been really good fun. All the shows have been really good, we’ve had good crowds –Bristol was a bit of a surprise, in a good way, because we’ve not had great crowds there in the past, but we got a good turnout there. We’ve always had good crowds in Nottingham so this show is less of a worry!

Rob: Is this a new album tour in the sense that you’ll be playing all the new songs in full?

Ben: Not really, the problem with playing too many new songs is that it can take people time to know them well enough for them to be a success when we play them live, so we’ll still play mainly the older songs and then throw in a couple of new ones as well. On the next tour we’ll probably play more of the new songs, when they’re more familiar.

Rob: And this new album is the third album you put out in about two and a half years, that’s quicker than most bands put their releases out – is that a conscious decision by the band to get a lot of material out there?

Ben: It’s really to do with the fact that we’re writing whenever we’re not on tour, really. As an English band, you can’t really tour as much as an American band would for example, because the country is so small, so we have quite a lot of time sitting at home when we just get together, try new things and work on them. There’s still been a whole year of writing between each record, so when you break that down, it’s about a month just to write one song, which is actually quite a lot of time when you think about it. Also, we’ve never had the proper backing of a label to help us through from album to album, so once we release a record and toured around it, the hype dies down and we’ve been quite quick to get back in the studio so we can do it all again. Now we have the backing of Island and Universal, the cycle might be a bit longer this time, because hopefully we can tour internationally and promote it more fully.

Rob: You mention that you’re now signed to a major label – with this in mind, how do you find yourself touring with bands like The Dangerous Summer? Do the band still have a say in this or is it guided by the label now?

Ben: We have a big say in it – we speak with our management and then they will give us a list of bands who can be available for the tour. Obviously we’ve known the guys in Don Broco for quite some time, this isn’t the first tour we’ve played with them, and Mike knows Charlie from Gnarwolves, so we got in contact with them after Transit had to pull out of the tour. It was nice to announce the supports at the same time as announcing the tour, it gives everyone a chance to check out the supports before they come to the show. We’ve had some shows in the past which have sold out before the supports were even announced, and whilst it’s great to play to your fans, you want a few people going to see the supports as well, because that really makes other people think “oh, I’m missing out on this” if they don’t go to the show, and it helps to get a good atmosphere while the supports are on stage.

Rob: So are the bands we’re seeing on this tour indicative of the sort of things you guys listen to?

Ben: We listen to all sorts of things really. Recently we’ve had a new guitar tech and he just listens to, like, brutal metal, all the time, so we haven’t had the chance to listen to as many bands as we used to! We like to change it up all the time, it really depends what sort of mood we’re in.

Rob: Looking at some of the music videos the band has put out, the more recent offerings have been more like short films – is that something the band has wanted to do, and if so what might we expect from future videos?

Ben: It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, but we’ve been limited by budget more than anything. The videos for the songs off World Record were paid for entirely by ourselves, and it’s easier and cheaper to do a performance video than writing something with a storyline and everything. The video for ‘If The World Was To End’ was our idea, and then for ‘Love Someone Else’ we got some pitches for that and went with the one we liked, and we’re all really happy with how they’ve come out. I’m not sure what’s coming next – I think we’re going to sort it out in the next few weeks, after this tour.

Rob: And finally, it’s been a lot of fun watching your band grow very quickly over the past couple of years – do you have any goals or ambitions for the next year or two, or will it just be a case of taking it as it comes?

Ben: We really want to focus on getting our name out there internationally. We’ve only been to America for a few shows, so we want to tour in America, Canada, and do more in Mainland Europe as well. Hopefully the backing of the labels will help us get the name out there – we’ve released the new album digitally in North America but there’s no physical release yet, so we can hopefully do a tour there as an album release tour soon.

Rob: Good luck with it. Thanks for your time and good luck for the rest of the tour.