Madina Lake

By paul

Andy recently caught up with Madina Lake sticksman Dan Torelli to chat touring, Twitter and Festivals…

PT: I last caught up with you guys back in early March and you’ve been incredibly busy since then. I know you’ve been all over the world getting the word out about Attics to Eden. Talk me through the last couple of months – where have you been, what have you been up to and what have been the highlights?

Dan: Last time we spoke we’d just done the Soundwave Festival in Australia. We went to do some promo in Japan and then here, then we went back home. We’ve been doing a lot of sporadic dates, some with the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and a band called Hollywood Undead, I don’t know if they’ve reached over here yet – they’re sort of a rap metal kind of gangster-party band.

PT: Yes, unfortunately, they have.

Dan: They’re a bit strange but it’s been some completely different crowds for us. Their audiences were really cool. It’s good to be over here now, the record’s just come out and it’s good to be here spreading the world when it comes out. Hopefully things will go well. We’re doing Warped Tour this summer but after that, we want come back and do a proper headlining tour in the UK, maybe in the Fall.

PT: Have you had much time to rest over the last couple of months, or has it been a full-on Attics To Eden PR operation?

Dan: Honestly, the most rest that we’ve had in the last few years was actually making the record. At times it was strenuous, but it was pretty chilled the majority of the time. From like November through December, we got to hang out for the first time in years. As soon as January came, it all got pretty hectic, we’ve been so busy, but that’s what you want. You don’t want your record to come out then be sat at home watching TV, y’know what I mean? You want to be out there, talking to people; you want to be out on the road and doing it! I would be more stressed out if we weren’t doing anything.

PT: You’re been here for a week or so now. How have the shows been so far?

Dan: Awesome man! It’s really been nice, the turnout’s been great. Tonight sold out – about three or four other shows sold out too. It really, really feels good; we’re so lucky for that. We had a fairly successful headlining tour when we over here for our first record, but that was way back in Autumn ’07. It’s a year and a half since we’ve really come here and done a tour of our own and that’s a long time y’know. People’s attention spans aren’t that long and everybody’s always got new favourite bands all the time, we were a little bit stressed out to play these shows because we didn’t know if people would come, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised that people seem to still be into us!

It really feels like ages since we’ve been here. It’s great to see a lot people coming back and we’re trying to re-invigorate them with the new stuff. On this tour we’re playing some of the songs from Attics To Eden for the very first time. Literally playing them for the first time since we recorded them in October/November. When we finished the record, we weren’t playing new tracks because it was still months from the release.

PT: You were meant to have Kill Hannah joining you over here. What happened there? Why did they pull out from the tour?

Dan: That was such a strange deal man. We’re friends with a couple of bands from Chicago – Kill Hannah being one, The Audition being another – so were really excited to do these dates with Kill Hannah. We’ve been doing the Chicago circuit with them for literally years.

It was some really kind of freak thing. Business-wise, I don’t really know the details, but they had to re-do some recording they felt really necessary to do for their career. They apologised and everything, but it was really last notice, and it kind of freaked us out. This was all maybe a week before we were due to come over!

PT: You must be relieved that your buddies in The Audition could help you out!

Dan: It’s just amazing the way the universe works, man. They’re some of our best friends from Chicago as well, we’ve toured with them before. They were on a tour in the States with another band and they were really not happy on that tour for a variety of different reasons. I think Matthew called Seth and he was telling them our shitty situation. They were literally talking about quitting that tour the night before that call, so it worked out perfect y’know! A couple of phone calls, managers’ thumbs up and bang, Here they are!

Dan: The first real tour we did was with The Audition and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was like six weeks and we had a lot of fun – we really became tight. So now having them over here, and sharing one of those double-decker buses with them, and partying with them has been awesome!

PT: You’ve got Flood Of Red on this tour as well. Had you heard of them before you came over?

Dan: I’d heard the name but never the music until we came over. Everybody’s really sweet in that band, and they’re going over great with the crowds so that’s worked out nicely too.

PT: Do you get much of a chance to keep up with the UK scene when you’re back home?

Dan: Not as much as I’d like to, but have you heard of a band called Swound! ? That’s one band that I came across that I absolutely love. Last time we were over here we met the guys, and one of the guys gave me their EP. I put it on my iPod for the travel back to the States, and I was like, this band is amazing.

PT: One of the things you’ve been doing whle out on the road is keeping fans updated regularly through Twitter. How important do you think the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and the rest are for bands connecting with their fans? Do you think it’s going to make it easier for bands just starting out to get known?

Dan: It’s interesting, because it’s not like it even gives you an advantage anymore, it’s more of a necessity now. It’s not a bad thing because I think connecting with your audience and connecting with kids that like your band is amazing, it’s really cool to be able to get closer to people in that way. I think now the competition is so steep and the record industry is in shambles, no one’s making any money any more. Anything that helps you out if you want to be in a band full-time is an advantage. Not only is it fun but I think it’s a necessity because you’ve got to stay in communication with people supporting you.

The only drawback to that for me is that I remember when I was growing up there was a certain mystique about certain bands because you didn’t know anything about them. I was a Tool fan from early on, and the fact that it was so hard to get information about them almost made you want more. There’s part of me that wishes that it was still like that. Bands could create this unknown mystique around them, it became an appeal in itself. Even with the Smashing Pumpkins in a way, you never knew how the relationships were in those bands – did they like each other, did they hate each other – the unknown was so fascinating!

PT: You’ve also self-confirmed for Reading Festival, something which you said you were shooting for when we last spoke. Any news on which stage you’ll be on?

Dan: I really can’t believe that one! We’ve been so lucky with festivals here. First one we did was Give It A Name – that really jump-started out career over here, that was the biggest show we’d ever done to date. Then we did Download last summer, which was just some thirty-odd thousand people, and now Reading and Leeds is apparently even bigger! I believe we’re going to be on the Main Stage – early on obviously.

PT: It’s a good slot to have – people are still sober and alert and paying attention!

Dan: Oh definitely. It works out in our favour because you get your stuff set up first. I feel like even bands at our level are just so much more professional than us – we don’t have techs, we don’t have a sound guy, so going on early and getting your stuff out the way early takes a lot of the weight off your shoulders!

It’s important for a band like us, if you only have a certain amount of time to impress that many people, early on is good. Everyone’s full of energy, sober, they haven’t been standing in the sun for eight hours. It’s a fun time to play.

PT: You’ve also got some special packages available for people who pre-ordered the album – exclusive videos, interviews and so on available through your River People fan club.What will you be treating your fan club members to over the coming year?

Dan: Basically we’ve been doing a lot of filming on the road and backstage and that. It’s going to be a cool little exclusive thing. I believe we’re going to set up a message board for the fan club members, and you’ll be the first one to get your hands on these things. There’ll be contests, ticket giveaways. Anything that we used on the record like drumsticks, drum skins, guitar picks, we kept and autographed and gave those away. Basically anything we can think of to give that little bit extra back!

PT: You’re definitely a band that takes care of its fans!

Dan: Thank you, we try. It never ceases to amaze us. When we get done at a gig, and there’s a crowd of kids standing there wanting to meet us, we’re like, ‘really’? I think it’s because we’ve all failed so many times at it, that it makes us feel lucky in a way. Ever since we were in high school and in our old bands, just playing shows for no one, and spending every dime that we made into the band, we spent so long trying to get somewhere. Over a three-year span before we got signed to Road Runner, we did eighteen major label showcases and every single one was a thumbs down. It really took it out of us. It makes every opportunity we have, every single fan that we get to meet that much more special, it really means something to us. We ate shit for a long time, so it’s still fascinating that people like it!

PT: I understand after you wrap up this tour you’re sticking around to film your next video over here. What can you tell me about that? Can you tell us what sort of format the video will be taking, what’s the story behind it?

Dan: We’re so excited about this. It’s for a song called ‘Let’s Get Out Of Here’, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the record. It’s kind of rocking, but it’s got a party kind of vibe. We’ve never done a video here before, so we’re really excited to be doing it in the UK, with a UK producer. I don’t know if I’m yet allowed to say how the video’s going to go, but I hear we’ve got some really cool lighting effects going on, so I’m really excited by that!

PT: It’s the last show of the tour tonight. Have you got anything special planned?

Dan: I think we’re just going to try and go as ape-shit as we can. We just want to be reckless and connect, we’re not going to be back until Reading, so we’re gonna make the most of it!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]