The North East of England has an other worldly quality.
Not for nothing did Bram Stoker choose to set ‘Dracula’ in Whitby, with the coastline inspiring generations of artists. Moving to the sea, Lanterns On The Lake allowed the eerie atmosphere to infect their music.
Impressing with two EPs in 2010, Lanterns On The Lake recently completed work on their debut album. Signed to Bella Union, ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’ has a rare quality which sets it apart from names on the release schedule.
Perhaps it’s the instrumentation – Lanterns On The Lake are a seven piece, after all – or perhaps it’s the evocative songwriting. Whatever, the North East group have delivered a fully formed debut album which has a real sense of depth.
Asking the band to pen a track-by-track guide, Lanterns On The Lake delivered a typically fascinating introduction…
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This began life as a weird series of bleeps and glitches, everybody slowly adding little bits and pieces to it and it eventually turned into a song. It was the first time we’d ever attempted to do something with any electronic approach. I love Paul’s vocals on the very end and Sarah’s strings. I think it was the only way to open the album.
If I’ve Been Unkind
This was one of the first songs we wrote together, Adam brought a rough idea in to rehearsal which we all worked on together. It was the first time Adam sang on a song and I really love his vocals on this. It’s one of my favourites on the record. There is a younger and very different version of this song on The Starlight EP but the version on the album is more representative of the live incarnation.
Keep On Trying
Those creeks and shuffles that make up the rhythm of the song is built from floor board creeks, tapping on a table and some paper shuffling. I suppose it’s almost a Lanterns pop song.
Ships In The Rain
I guess this is a sad song and based on the very real event of a young boy from where we live that drowned at sea, he was missing at the time of writing this song. It was originally just an acoustic and vocals but we added some ‘ooohs’ and a bowed guitar and stripped off the acoustic. All the vocals were recorded through a hissy guitar amp which kind of gave it this other worldly feeling and suited what the song was about.
This is one of our favourite songs to play live. As with ‘If I’ve Been Unkind’ there is an earlier version of this on the Misfortunes & Minor Victories EP. Since then though the song has evolved quite a bit and we really wanted to capture the energy that it has when we play it live.
The Places We Call Home
This originally began life as a song Paul was working on on his own that he never intended to be a Lanterns song. Some of us happened to hear him working on this and we were itching to play on it and help him so he had no choice but to give in and let us turn it into a Lanterns song. It evolved quite considerably with everyone adding their own ideas and parts to it but it still kept the essence of the song that we all fell for in the first place.
Blanket Of Leaves
This was one of the first songs we started working on when we came to make the record. It’s quite a simple song and very fragile. Ol came up with the piano melody, I remember him playing it for me when I went over to his one evening, it was so beautiful and really put a lump in my throat. This song reminds me of us working on it in a freezing cold basement of a shop in Newcastle.
This appeared one day as we were setting up before rehearsal in this house we used to go to in Northumberland. I think we spent that whole night working on this song to get it ready to play at a gig the following day because we were pretty excited about it. We always refer to it as ‘Whitley Bay Song’ because that’s where we played it at the gig the following day.
You’re Almost There
Ol came up with the piano part and basis of this song and me and Paul helped structure around the vocal part I came up with. Another of my favourites on the record because I love Paul’s guitars on it and and Brendan’s bass line rules. It almost didn’t make the final tracklisting but I think it grew on people as the song evolved. Paul made the beats and glitches from chopping up samples of Ol playing his drums.
I Love You, Sleepyhead
So this is another song where we really tried to capture the energy of playing it live because people seem to really respond to this one when we play it. We recorded the drums at Brendan and Adam’s parents house. I feel bad because we banished them from their own home for a day and drank all their tea and ate all their biscuits. It turned out well in the end though.
Not Going Back To The Harbour
This song was written when we’d almost completely finished the record. It was never actually intended to go on the record. The recording is literally a demo of me playing the song in the spare bedroom into a mic one night just so I wouldn’t forget it. It came on the speakers by mistake when we had just finishing listening through to the album tracks. Brendan insisted it went on the record.
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‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’ is out now.