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2 bands, 10 guys and one incredible EP. We chat to Northlane and In Hearts Wake about the making of Equinox

There’s nothing like a little sibling rivalry and these two bands have spent so much time together, they’re practically brothers.

With both of the bands dropping their joint EP, Equinox you can imagine the stories that could follow. We had a chat with In Hearts Wake and Northlane about their recent activity and the mischief they’re getting up to together.

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Artwork by Chris Bradley

10 guys, thousands of fans and one incredible EP. How the hell did they pull it off you say? We got the boys chatting to find out.

In Hearts Wake and Northlane

HAPPY: Recording in secret with Will Putney is a huge feat within itself – were you guys literally in lock down that entire time?

IHW: We were in Melbourne for, I think it was a week, us and Northlane shared a little Air BnB together. It was like 3 bedrooms and a couple of people sleeping on the couch about a five minute walk from studio and we all lived there for a week together. Every day we’d wake up and make our way to the studio together and that was it, straight form the apartment to the studio all day then come back, sleep and do the same thing every day.

NL: Obviously it was a secret to the general public. Our manager Luke Logemann also manages In Hearts Wake so there were people that knew. Being in the same music scene, and ‘cause we kind of grew up together, we do share a lot of the same friends so there was a select bunch of people who knew that we were there and Matt from Ocean Grove actually came out and hung out at the house a couple of nights.

It was a little hard because we wanted to post about it, but then we thought let’s be a little tricky here, and we posted photos hanging out with each other, but when people asked we were like ‘they’re down for Unify, we’re down here for the start of our Australian tour and it just kind of fell into place that we’re in the same place at the same time.’ We kind of palmed it off in that way.

HAPPY: Who aside from the label actually knew about the release?

IHW: Not many people actually, even some of our closest friends we didn’t tell because we know how a secret can spread and we were definitely good at keeping it with Earthwalker and Skydancer so we thought we’d stick to the same formula and hopefully the same thing would happen again. No one really found out about it before hand, it was all very secretive and, you know we put so much time and effort into the project that we really did want it to be a surprise so we didn’t take any risks with that.

NL: All the guys in the band but myself are all in relationships so family knew and girlfriends all knew, which is usually how everything happens. A couple of close trusted friends knew what we were doing.

HAPPY: You guys have had Equinox in the works for about three years – how did the concept come to be?

IHW: Yeah, as far as the idea of working together in some way on a song or two songs or something like that came up between Josh and Jake a few years ago when we were touring and it was always in the back of our minds. More recently they got the snowball happening and then it led to January in the studio.

NL: We did a tour together back in 2011 when we released our album Discoveries and we took IHW as a main support on that because, like I said, we’re mates, but on that tour and in multiple shows and stuff after we’ve always got along with those guys… but being that both of our bands at home in Australia were trying to kind make a footprint on our own it was like, when it’s the right time we’ll know and we’ll revisit it then.

We released Node and we went and did a North American tour for that, and we always get to pick our line ups so we thought who better to come over, let’s see if IHW are free. It was just one evening after a show we did a couple grilling BBQ sessions in car parks of the hotels we were staying at, and Josh and Jake were just having a conversation and Jake was like ‘remember when we were talking about this on the Discovers run, this could be our time, let’s think of something, let’s do something.’

Technically it was something that was spoke about a couple of years ago but it’s not like we were planning it. We felt like the time is finally right where we both have a strong fan base on our own so why not bring that together and let’s do something that’s not just a tour, but do something that will make people go ‘fuck, remember when Northlane and In Hearts Wake did this’.

HAPPY: The EP features all 10 musicians from Northlane and In Hearts Wake, how did you guys approach the writing process and deciding who played and sang what parts?

IHW: Yeah (laughs), you always have to start off with less people, so John sort of had a bass idea for one of the songs and then I had an idea for the other one for Refuge, just off doing our own things. Then we brought that to the studio, those songs, for everyone to work on and have an input and have their say in as far as vocals and lyrics and harmonies and all that kind of stuff. Within the actual studio there was a few different rooms as well as the main room and we’d have little groups off working on guitar riff and someone else working on vocals and melodies. Everyone had their part but there definitely wasn’t 10 people standing there saying ‘play this note or play that note’.

NL: The original thought was to try and get Ben and John [together] because they’re like the two main song writers of both bands, but when you’re writing music, well I know with both Ben and John, it’s a very personal and introverted experience. I know John for us, he’ll write a skeleton to a song and we’ll come together and collaborate. They tried to kind of sit down and do something together, I’m not 100% if some of the ideas from Refuge ended up making the song, but I know one of the riffs John came up with in that session was actually used in the song.

HAPPY: The fact that you guys will be playing the EP in its entirety live with all 10 of you guys on stage is another huge achievement and it means you’re literally writing history, how do you even begin to logistically make this work live on stage?

IHW: I haven’t had much of a part in that. Evan, our other guitarist, takes care of a lot of the live set stuff. He’s been talking to John I know, I’ve heard a few things and we’re actually heading to down Sydney in a few days. We fly down and we’re gonna’ rehearse for a few days with them and that’s when it’ll all really come together and we’ll really refine the whole 10 people on stage idea.

NL: I’m not really sure, it’s something that we have to sit down with all 10 of us and kind of have a discussion about. We just got off a tour and we haven’t really had time as a collective to sit down and go ‘okay let’s do this’, so I’m not really sure as of yet but hopefully we’ll manage to come together and give the viewers an intricate experience.
HAPPY: There’s definitely a lot of people talking about it. You’re playing in a space where if you love In Hearts Wake you love Northlane, which is awesome because I guess you guys are best friends. It’ll be cool to see that come to life and watch that dynamic. It’s one thing to do an EP together but to bring it to the stage is such a cool concept.

IHW: It’s just as exciting for us as it is for the people who are excited to see it. I can’t wait to be up there with the other guys having a good time. It’s gonna’ be fun all round.

In Hearts Wake On Northlane

HAPPY: Is there a plan to one-up Northlane given they *just* beat you to the ARIA? Perhaps some tour pranks are in order?

IHW: (Laughs) Well now that you’ve mentioned it… maybe we will have to! I actually didn’t have anything in mind. No, not at all, we don’t hold anything against them, I don’t know if they’re the right words, but it doesn’t make us feel bad. We’re so stoked for our friends. We couldn’t be happier that a bunch of deserving musicians got it, and it only pushes us to work harder on our music. No hard feelings or anything like that, but I’m sure we’ll be playing pranks regardless of anything like that.

HAPPY: We look forward to the Snapchat and Instagram videos! I guess speaking of the fact that you guys are best mates, one of the solid things UNFD do as a label is that they create a really solid community where people aren’t just fans of the band but they’re fans of the label, and fans really do seem to love you guys and Northlane equally. What’s the best part of being on the same label as your best mates, aside from getting to release a killer EP together?

IHW: Yeah, I guess it just means that whenever either of us are touring we’ve always got the option to go hang out at a show. You know, because we’re so close we’ve had them stay at our houses up here before with our families and we’ve taken them to some cool waterfalls and the beach and things like that. I guess there’s that side of it where it’s a lot more personal and we’ re really close. And they’ve brought us into their homes with their families. Being a part of the label together makes us feel like family, as well as everyone at the label that works there.

HAPPY: Did you personally have a favourite moment of writing Equinox?

IHW: I think when we had both Kyle and Marcus in the studio working out some harmonies to sing over each other. When we’ve toured before, Kyle has sat down at a piano in a dressing room and they’ve sung harmonies and things together to some funny songs and they sound really good together. It was really cool hearing it once we’d laid down all the bass and the drums and guitars and stuff and getting them to come in and sing over the top of each other was just… they really compliment each other really well and it was great to hear those first harmonies. Everyone was really wow’d by that.

HAPPY: Did you guys take some behind the scenes footage in the studio that you’ll be releasing, because I can imagine there would have been some pretty fun times of you guys together.

IHW: I’m not too sure actually. I think Neil that was filming, he made a little documentary. I’m sure there was plenty of little funny bits that he’s got lying around so maybe we’ll have to release that. There were definitely some funny things that happened in the apartment. There was one night when Milo from Northlane had a little macaroni and cheese packet that he bought downstairs from 7/11 and put in the microwave for something like 10 minutes, and it literally caught on fire and smoked our entire apartment out. The whole bowl was just left full of charcoal.

HAPPY: Most annoying member of Northlane after spending a solid week of recording together?

IHW: There was a little game console and it was like Cricket 98 or something and everyone just kept on losing, and Milo from Nothlane kept on beating everyone. No-one else could win and he kept on beating us all so that was pretty annoying.

HAPPY: Best and worst moment of being in studio with the boys for a solid week?

IHW: Actually the dinners we had were really good. Josh Smith from Northlane was good at sourcing out a few places. We found this really good Thai Place and he ordered all of our dinner for us and got it delivered. That was really nice, that was a good moment.

HAPPY: It wasn’t in the studio, but I’m gonna have to say Milo burning the mac and cheese because we had to go outside and it literally smelt for the rest of the week and the microwave was literally back inside so yeah, that was the worst moment.
1 thing you would change about each member of Northlane?

IHW: Milo shouldn’t cook, that’d be a good one.

Nick needs to be not so good at real cricket because we play a lot of cricket on tour and he’s got a good arm.

I dunno, I’m really stuck with this.

1 thing you love about each member or Northlane?

Milo and Josh when they have conversations as Lebbo’s is very, very funny, if I’m allowed to say that. They put on like ‘fully sick’, it’s really funny I crack up every time and I can’t stop laughing.

Marcus is always so happy, he just never seems to be down he’s always stoked about everything.

Nick and his love of cricket. We always have good conversations about cricket.

John, let me think. John, John, John, best thing? There’s so many good things about John. We call him the praying mantis on stage because that’s what he looks like, that’d be the best part about John.

HAPPY: Favourite tour story with Northlane?

IHW: We’ve had so many crazy times. I mean the whole Canadian tour that we did with them last year was amazing, we got to see some really cool places together and there was actually one night in particular they had a hotel and they invited us over for a big cook out, and the hotel staff actually allowed us to use the barbecues after hours. We cooked up until about 2 o’clock in the morning. There was big pool and we were swimming the whole night, drinking beers by the pool and we just had a really, really good night so that was probably a highlight.

Northeart

Northlane on In Hearts Wake

HAPPY: Congratulations on winning an ARIA, that’s a huge achievement. Does winning an ARIA over your best mates lead to some good banter? Is it the ultimate card to win an argument?

NL: I can’t speak for everyone but for me winning an ARIA doesn’t really mean anything, it just means ‘okay cool you won an ARIA.’ It doesn’t really prove anything because it’s just an award, it’s never like ‘nah we’re better we won the ARIA.’ It’s an award that’s gonna’ sit on the dresser. We’ve always been very supportive of each other, that’s why whenever they’re in Sydney and we’re free we’ll come down and watch them play, and that’s why we did the first tour together and that’s why we went to North America and we thought, “fuck, we can take some friends why don’t you guys come with us?” It’s always been a friendship. You have a bit of banter, everyone will bring up the mac and cheese and it’s funny, but that’s probably the card that will win an argument over an ARIA if you ask me.


HAPPY: Did you find being in the studio with your best mates made it hard to get straight to work? I know if I was in the studio with my best mates I probably wouldn’t do anything productive.

NL: I guess both of our bands have a very good work ethic, there was definitely some messing around and banter and fun times as there always is, but when it’s time to work, vocals are being done so the vocalists are there writing lyrics or I’m practicing my parts, Ben’s in another room writing a part of the song or him and John were, like, locked away in one of the lab rooms working on the transition of a song. We know when to have fun and we know when it’s time to work, but as soon as it’s back at the house it’s all on.

HAPPY: Most annoying member of In Hearts Wake?

NL: Ooohhh, that’s hard to say. I haven’t found an annoying thing in any of the dudes. Maybe the most annoying is Connor because he has a better Subaru than I do.

HAPPY: Best and worst moment of being in studio with your best mates?

NL: 100% the best moment was [in the studio], standing in there, everything’s tracked, all vocals are done, and listening to it. Y’know, you come together with a whole bunch of people and you create this piece of work and then you sit there and listen to it as a whole and it’s mad. It’s inspiring and you have this good feeling because you’ve achieved something.

Obviously the worst moment for me is the fucking mac and cheese. The thing that sucks about it is I was just following the instructions on the packet and I’m not a bad cook. I know a couple people that have vouched that I can actually use a kitchen. Until we get together and do another joint EP I’m not gonna’ be able to cook for everyone.


HAPPY: Give us your favourite tour story with In Hearts Wake.

NL: I’ve got two. The first one definitely isn’t a tour story but probably like six or seven years ago when they did their first tour outside of Byron and played in Sydney, the band I was playing in at the time was like a small little local band but we opened a show for them in my friends garage in Baulkham Hills. That was my first time being exposed to their music.

Wait, I have three!

The second one would be we were doing the Discovers tour in 2011 and I don’t think any of us had a place to stay so we ended up staying in the van on the beach in Coffs Harbuor, or Port Macquarie I don’t remember which one.

The last one would have to be the North American tour that we did because on those nights that we were able to stay in the same accommodation we would just get the cricket set out, get the beers, have some grilling in the car park. Five years ago when we were playing in Sydney to 50 people a night, I don’t think any of us really realised that what we were doing was gonna’ turn into 3 years later being in Canada, grilling in a car park.

HAPPY: What’s one thing that you love about In Hearts Wake as a band.

NL: When you see bands that start to get successful and start to get a bit of momentum, sometimes the members of the band or the music will start to lose its integrity, but from the first time I met Ben and Evan they sold me one of their EP’s and I didn’t have enough money to buy it, so they gave it to me for like $5. And four or five years later, they’re still the same people that I met. Nothing’s changed.