Jon Deiley started messing around with songwriting on his guitar, by himself in the beginning. “I just started writing music in the old bedroom..and now we’re here,” he says of his history as a musician. “No previous bands. This is my first band.”
Adrian Fitipaldes, like a good frontman should, interjects where appropriate. “Everyone wants a part of his music. That’s why we’re in his band.” This instantly sends the mood goofy.
“Yeah, I brought everyone together and now we’re a happy family,” grins Deiley. It’s obvious these dudes have plenty of time for friendship amongst their more serious business.
“He is the creative genius behind Northlane,” adds drummer Nic Pettersen, with a smile expanding at the same rate Deiley’s face is turning red.
Pettersen was poached from his original band, Mace, after they supported Northlane on their very first tour. (Not during that actual tour, but he joined the band on their next tour as a result of the initial meeting.) Not bothered about small details though, Pettersen leaps to continue the joking vibe they have going. “I’ve been drumming for 15 or so years. I also play a little bit of guitar…I can give a bit of a ballad. Bar that I play percussion, bongoes, maybe a wind chime, who knows…general percussion. Why limit yourself when you can play every instrument at the same time?!”
In all seriousness though, the band definitely don’t place limits on each other where songwriting is concerned. Though Deiley and Petersen compose most of it to begin with, it doesn’t stop with them.
“He [Adrian] handles the lyrics, [Nic and I] sort of handle the music. But then we’ll also ask the other guys in the band as well for suggestions.,” explains Deiley.
“I’m the main lyric writer of the band…but I respect every opinion the boys have and I’m always open to their ideas as well,” confirms Fitipaldes.
So there’s hardly ever a disagreement then? That question is met with belly laughs.
“There’s always disagreements. But it’s definitely friendly,” says Deiley.
“Definitely. Constructive,” continues Pettersen. “Everyone has their own view on what should happen, and I think that it comes down to listening to what everyone wants to do and then finding the best…”
“…sweet spot,” concludes Deiley for him. They all agree on that description.
From this point, the conversation takes a slightly different turn. As the Northlane boys open up about their approach to collaboration, the unique energy between them starts to become apparent.
“We’re definitely open to what other people feel, and what other people think,” says Pettersen. “You know, something in the music, whatever it may be. Of course there’s an idea that needs to be laid down and the path needs to be there. Collaboration [comes] in on the way through that path and fills out the gaps.”
“We just experiment with different sounds. Different guitar sounds and whatever,” says Deiley. “You’re experimenting with the unknown, and I suppose that’s where the good stuff comes out.” He also cites a diverse range of influences like Flume, Incubus and other bands who’ve done “a lot of trippy stuff… weird guitar effects.”
The other two are like minded on the subject of influences. “We draw influence from a lot of styles that you’d never expect,” smiles Pettersen. There’s truth in that, given the loyalty that so many metal fans swear to their one chosen genre. “Our musical influences aren’t just from the metal and hardcore aspect. We’re reaching from all sorts of different genres.” If you can’t hear it in their actual music – that’s not what he’s getting at. For example, Pettersen explains the influence of late 90s favourite Limp Bizkit, who were at the forefront of the rap-metal style.
“Even though we don’t sound like Limp Bizkit,we try and make the crowd bounce, and we try and get the crowd involved as much as possible. I think that’s an important aspect of live music these days.” The evidence of that followed just a few hours later. For such a young band, Northlane drew one of the most enthusiastic mosh pits on the day, laying down serious energy for the bands on after them.
Fitipaldes undoubtedly brings a huge amount of the aforementioned ‘bounce’. He has an impressive vocal range, which he uses his whole body to project: a high point of the band’s powerful live sets. It’s no co-incidence though; he’s passionate about a range of lyrical styles, and treats every aspect of being a vocalist professionally. “Sometimes you don’t need words, sometimes you only need music. But I like poetry as well – sometimes you don’t always need music. You can just have the words.” Again, throwing diversity of influences into the mix, Fitipaldes cites rapper Immortal Technique, and even philosophers such as Terence McKenna as some of the inspirations behind his lyric writing.
He also has no qualms being open about the experiences that paved the way to his eventual recruitment into Northlane.
“I’d been playing in a few different bands over the years. I started off in a local band called Definition of a Dead Man, which was short lived. I played in a school rock band called Dynamite Kid…it was very pop punk, with break dance and heavy moments.” Even so, he’d also been working on his “screaming voice” which he would present at a Northlane audition. “One thing led to another…they needed a vocalist, and they liked me enough to keep me all these years.” None the less, he’s always working on expanding his repertoire of musical talents, both vocally and instrumentally.
Though Northlane defines no boundaries for themselves, they have a strong direction which saw Triple J describe them as “one of the hardest working, fastest moving independent bands in their genre” in 2010, and a strong fanbase hot on the heels of their two albums, Discoveries and Singularity that have been released so far. Fitipaldes’ vocal style varies on the records, and it’s all part of the plan in the making of each of record.
“Our first record [Discoveries] had a bit of clean, normal singing on it as well [as the most recent record Singularity]. I guess we just collectively decide…like if we should be experimenting with that type of stuff. We try and do it only where it’s tasteful, and it’s called for. We do have our own sound and we try not to stray too far from what that is.”
And it seems that Northlane‘s deep assuredness of their style comes from somewhere more genuine than record sales figures : a strong gut feeling.
“I think it comes from somewhere within you. It’s not like something that can be taught. [Writing music] comes from somewhere else in you. It’s an instinct,” says Jon.
“That’s it,” continues Pettersen. “Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves, to express the emotion they’re feeling. I think that everyone has the opportunity to do that.”
Fitipaldes puts it simply, as only a wordsmith of his calibre would. “Yeah…It’s all art.”
Northlane have just begun a headline tour of the U.S.