FROM: EDINBURGH | FOR FANS OF: JIMMY EAT WORLD, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
The Edinburgh quintet’s debut album is named ‘They’re Not Secrets Anymore’ and aptly so. Big things are surely to come from the group over the next twelve months, and anyone who appreciates dream-pop, alt-rock and 90s minimalism is bound to find something they enjoy in Last Wild Lion. We fired over a few questions at guitarist and songwriter Jamie Monteith to find out what makes the band tick…
“a theme of love, a search for happiness and mental well-being”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC (WITHOUT USING GENRES) TO SOMEONE WHO’S NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE?
Last Wild Lions music is a mix of quiet, minimal moments with some louder, more explosive phrases. There are songs more suited to sing-alongs in a car and others that are best heard in the wee hours with head phones in.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR SONGWRITING?
Reflection and people. When writing, I try to reflect quite often on experiences and past conversations. I tend to analyse how I or someone else felt at that specific time, why they or I felt like that, what was said or done, what could have been said say differently and all those types of thoughts. Once I have a specific moment or experience in mind then I try to articulate the key messages in the song. The idea is if I’m honest in the writing then hopefully it’ll resonate with someone else who might have felt the same way or gone through something similar.
HOW DOES YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS WORK AS A BAND? DO YOU WRITE TOGETHER? COME UP WITH LYRICS OR MUSIC FIRST?
It usually starts with a concept from me. This could be a few lyrics, chord pattern or a riff that could be suited for the guitar or keys. These ideas get explored in our very modest home recording studio. I’ll lay a rough idea down and then we’ll work on it as a band or individual members together to get ideas down. We explore different phrasings, different tempos, arrangements and all that other stuff to weed out the stuff we don’t like. Getting the immediate feedback from home recording is helpful because something that can feel good to play cause it’s fun won’t always be the right idea for the song. We get there eventually though!
HOW IS THE ALBUM SOUNDING? ARE YOU GUYS EXCITED ABOUT FINALLY PUTTING IT OUT?
We’re really stoked on it. We went in with the idea of blending 80’s sounds with the energy of mid-90’s emo and I think we did good! It’s been a long time coming so it feels great to share these wee stories with the world.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON IT?
Technically, 2011… one of the songs called Worse at Night was in its infant stages at the tail end of that year. Just an acoustic guitar with some lyrics that I’m very sure have changed over the last 7 years. As a full band, we’ve worked on They’re Not Secrets Anymore since 2016.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC RUNNING THEMES OR CONCEPTS ON THE ALBUM?
I hadn’t gone into the songs with any real concept in mind. However, reading through the lyrics of the album, knowing what the songs are about and what they mean to me personally – I would say that there is a theme of love, a search for happiness and mental well-being. Looking back, that makes sense as the album was written throughout our twenties when most of us face some very challenging times.
“Last Wild Lion was the concept of a species being the last of its kind on Earth. It was an idea that stuck with me about the loneliness that would inevitably be involved and what you would do to overcome that in your survival.”
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST EXCITING MOMENT AS A BAND SO FAR?
Making the video for Drive was great fun but I would say working with the guys at Post Electric Studio in Edinburgh. Rod, Kris and Danny are a phenomenally talented bunch and any band or artist considering recording should check them out. Coming from Scotland, specifically Edinburgh, to work with someone who’s part of one of Scotlands most important bands ever was a truly humbling experience. From playing 100 Broken Windows in my CD player in 2001 to creating music with Rod was something 13-year-old me could never have imagined. I wouldn’t tell him that though…
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TERM “FEMALE FRONTED ROCK BAND”?
Ideally, we’ll just be a rock band whose lead vocals happen to be female. I do believe that women are under-represented in the alternative/rock music world. You only need to look at most recent rock festival line-ups of this year to see it. To show that we have a vocal powerhouse like Sarah [Monteith] leading our sound is something that we’re proud of and if that makes other women round the world want to belt out some rock songs then that’s brilliant.
ARE THERE ANY DIFFICULTIES FACED BEING IN A BAND WITH YOUR PARTNER(S)?
Doing anything with people that you’re so close with can be difficult. Thankfully for us, there’s such a strong level of trust and honesty that we can channel that to our advantage. To get the best of each other, we’ve created an atmosphere which acts as a safe place where it’s okay to explore ideas regardless of the quality. Whether it’s an idea that doesn’t land so well or a song that’s not as strong as you thought it was, Sarah and I create that safe place for each other and for the rest of the band. I think we’re stronger for it.
WHO IS THE LAST WILD LION? WHAT IS IT ABOUT LIONS THAT INSPIRED YOU TO WORK THEM INTO YOUR BAND NAME?
Last Wild Lion was the concept of a species or something being the last of its kind on Earth. It was an idea that stuck with me about the loneliness that would inevitably be involved and what you would do to overcome that in your survival. A lot of our music is about overcoming demons and challenges so Last Wild Lion fits that well alongside the more introverted moments.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A BILL WITH ANY BAND, WHO WOULD IT BE?
The answer depending on who you ask in this band would vary wildly. For me, the dream would be Coheed and Cambria. They’ve been my favourite band since I was 13 so if Claudio ever reads this, you’ve got a band from Scotland that would love to share a stage! Closer to home, The Xcerts have been killing it for years. Latest album was a treat so we’d love to play with them one day.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2018 AND INTO 2019?
Plans for the rest of the year are to release the album, play shows supporting it and write new tunes. We’re always working on new ideas and already have a few new songs in the works. They might slip their way into the live set and we’ll be looking to release a new song or two in spring next year. From there, we’re looking to play shows where ever we can. There’s a great scene around Scotland and the UK right now we’d like to play our part in that.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG TERM GOALS FROM THE BAND? WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE YOUR FUTURE TO LOOK LIKE?
The goal, as it’s always been, is to write and play songs that we believe in and hopefully others will like them too. If we can keep doing that and have fun together then that’s all that matters. The rest is just a bonus. What I imagine our future to look like is lots of shows, plenty of sing-alongs, comradery and barrels of fun!