Nathan Leone of Madina Lake
Releasing their new album Attics to Eden this week Madina Lake (Nathan Leone on vocals, Matthew Leone on bass, Mateo Camargo on guitar and Dan Torelli on drums) compared the recording process with producer David Bendeth to a vigorous boot camp. It was that deconstruction that the band feels ultimately led them to recording an album that encompasses who they really are as a band.
Admittedly doing some self-exploration through their debut album From Them, Through Us, To You on Roadrunner Records, Attics to Eden is a bold statement inviting fans into the inner workings of Madina Lake and the band that they’ve evolved into.
Aiming for a “rock and roll assault on the senses” the band set out to make a record that defied genres and and promoted a theme of living in the moment. Never afraid to incorporate as many elements as necessary the band used electronics and other sounds not often heard on a rock album (the trumpet) to expand their sound.
Continuing the concepts developed in From Them, Through Us, To You, Attics to Eden carries on the tale of good versus evil but with a touch of science fiction and surrealism. Not wanting to convey the same topics but wanting to continue the mystery the band puts full faith in their fans that they will follow the vision that the band set out with from the beginning.
Nathan Leone recently took some time to answer some questions about Attics to Eden and all things Madina Lake. Special thanks to “The River People” for their questions!
Can you explain the meaning behind the album title “Attics to Eden?”
Attics to Eden is in reference to the individual’s quest for psychological refuge in a world that is moving too fast for human evolution. It’s about the how we feel the journey to utopia begins and ends in the mind, regardless of the outside landscape.
Did anything happen to change your view of the world between the writing & recording of “From Them, Through Us, To You” and Attics To Eden? If so, what was it, and how do you think it expressed itself in the music?
Definitely. We grew a bit bitter about how homogenized, safe and boring things had become with the touring world we were in. Outside of that bubble, the world had become embattled over ideologies, which is something that in this modern age, seems archaic. At the same time, we elected Obama, so the world factors that played into the record, ended on hope and faith in humanity in the midst of adversity.
Was it easier going into the recording of Attics to Eden than From Them, Through Us, To You? Do you think your writing process changed or improved between albums?
Attics was a much more difficult record to make. Mark Trombino who produced “From Them” is incredibly talented, but also a bit passive and laid back. Bendeth and his crew, on the other hand, were very tough and would not let one note or beat go by without scrutiny. Writing wise, each song on “Attics” evolved from a different seed. Whether it was Mateo recording Dan playing drums for 45 minutes and chopping apart a beat to make “Never Walk Alone” or Nathan finding the hook “Welcome To Oblivion” and Mateo writing a progression around that, each song has its own story of how it came to be.
What was it like working with producer David Bendeth? Do you feel that working with such a strong producer took any of “you” out of the music, or did he just force you to dig deeper inside yourselves?
One of his strongest attributes is that he finds the “you” in your band. He sat us down before we started and commenced an hour long conversation about who Madina Lake is as a band, where we come from and why we are who we are. Then he tore us apart as players and as individuals and re-constructed us in the most effective way he saw fit. It was extremely difficult but equally gratifying.
Are there any artists (musical or otherwise) who particularly influenced Attics to Eden more so than FTTUTY?
In terms of the statements we’re making on the record, I would say the sentiment was influenced by a lot of Eastern philosophy of living in the moment, mixed with the reality of the modern world which is moving too fast and breeding unsavory characters. Music wise, we expanded the use of electronics and explored effects more, even using a trumpet on Friends and Lovers. So Trent Reznor, and guys like Sting and Paul Simon were factors as well.
Rumor has it you recorded a song in exchange for some of the album art for Attics to Eden. Is this song part of the CD, and if not, will it ever be released anywhere?
Vic Lee Lindon is an incredible artist whom Nathan discovered through a friend. We’ve always liked the idea of a barter system as opposed to a currency based society. He had an idea for a song that he wanted us to materialize in exchange for the cover art. The song will at some point see the light of day I’m sure, but at this point it’s just for him.
There were a lot of “clues” to the Adalia mystery in the artwork of FTTUTY. Will the same hold true for the artwork of Attics to Eden? What can you tell us of the artist (St. Vincent), and is Nathan’s new tattoo based off of his “Isis Rising?”
Everything in the artwork stands for something. The Adalia character is sent down to the Earthly plane to discover her essence. The lower half of her attire represents a prostitute and the hardships of her experience. The balloon she’s carrying represents consciousness which she is delivering to the robot, or the human condition. All of it ties into the second installment of the story called “scorched earth.”
What are your thoughts/feelings about your album being leaked to the internet a few weeks ago? Do you think this will hurt album sales, or did it only serve as free publicity and add to the excitement and hype already built around the new album? (And do you even really care about any of those things? Haha)
It’s a double edged sword there. We obviously don’t care about money, we’re as broke as a joke, but there is a concern we need to worry about which is keeping our record deal! We certainly aren’t the type to resist technology, and we anticipated it would leak. I didn’t really see it happening that early, nor did I think it would have come from the source, but we don’t care. So long as people get to hear it and connect with it and come and share the live experience, we’re happy as clams.
FTTUTY focused a lot on the smoke and mirrors of celebrity, brought us into the realm of mystery that is Madina Lake, and had everyone asking, “Where’s Adalia?” What pieces of the story unfold with the Attics to Eden album, and what do you anticipate or hope your fans take away from your sophomore effort in relation to your band, society as a whole, and their individual selves?
Man you ask great questions! Attics to Eden will back up the lens on the society and broaden the scope to see what is happening outside of the town, in the rest of the world, and it will uncover the significance of the town. The first story dealt with the imaginary world, while the second one will introduce real parts of life and history to show the parallels of human behavior and the resulting consequences. We just hope to incite enthusiasm and provoke thought. Our instinctive defense mechanisms for dealing with life now are perhaps inflating the problems. It seems people prefer to mask than to unveil their issues.
How’d you like that “Here I Stand” reference in the last question? (Haha)
hahahahah I really like it.
What’s your favorite track off Attics to Eden and why?
At the moment I’m enjoying “criminals.” it’s a tale of revenge, a desire we’re all familiar with. It deals with the dangers of certain governing strategies, and demonstrates the monster that can be created when people don’t feel free.
If you had to sum up Attics to Eden in one word, what would it be?
The US, the UK, Japan, Australia…where HAVEN’T you toured yet that you would most like to go? What’s been the most memorable place that you can’t wait to revisit?
Tokyo is one of my favorite places. It’s completely surreal over there. Music is playing throughout the whole city at all hours through PA speakers on every block. It’s just like that movie “Lost in Translation,” well the good parts of that movie anyways!
Are you excited to be a part of Warped Tour this year?
We are definitely excited for Warped Tour! We feel lucky to be able to spend our summer with open minded kids, while sweating our nutclusters off.
What do you really think of this Twitter craze? The four of you use it more than any other band I know, and there have been some pretty crazy and sometimes racy “tweets” from you guys! Is there anything you absolutely would not ever tweet about, and if so, would you give us an example here? Also, do you ever fight over the who gets to tweet from the band’s phone in the van, or is that why you all have your own Twitter now?
We’re like kids man, when we get a new toy, we’re all over it, then we drop it a day later for the next one. People are always telling us all these things we have to do, ie tweeting and we don’t put much thought into it, we just do it. After a few beverages, that can be a bad idea! personally I’m not a fan of living my life out loud in front of the world, so it’s not something I’m crazy about.
What’s next for Madina Lake following the release of Attics to Eden? What direction do you see this album taking the band?
Well, just like we were in high school, we don’t belong to any scene. We’re always just kind of cool with everyone, so this album will further us down that path hopefully, of paving new ground, finding new audiences, sharing what we do. Loads of touring, making video’s for “Let’s Get Outta Here” and “Welcome to Oblivion.”
Thank you for the killer interview! See you soon, we hope!