Recently signed to Holy Roar Records and just featured on the Radio 1 Rock Show, progressive post hardcore band WE NEVER LEARNED TO LIVE open up their new era with a bright future. The band have just unveiled their impressive debut album, adding more extraordinary tracks to their worthwhile discography, which included a 12” EP and a split recording with the band HUMAN FUTURE. I am extremely stoked to guide you to this journey and share my newest interview with the band, who already checked in for IDIOTEQ exclusively last year.
This really is a journey of a record – unafraid to be gloriously melodic, catchy and direct (‘shadows in hibernation’), spookily cinematic (‘you will sleep now, Yourko’) or serenely heavy (the dual/duel bass guitar driven ‘tasting paralysis’). Expertly woven together by Sean Mahon’s vocal delivery (alternating between brittle anguish and reflective melodies) and lyrics – ‘Silently, I Threw Them Skyward’ is an intricate puzzle that will hurt, punish, comfort and uplift. Like all the best music should.
Whilst some band spend their entire existence trying to convey emotion, We Never Learned To Live have harnessed an effortless emotional weight with their music. In a sea of bands desperate to sound more troubled and angst-ridden than the last, WNLTL have one simple advantage up their collective sleeve: sincerity. Sure, they manage to try and hide behind gloriously ornate, obtuse artwork and poetic songtitles, but at the beating heart of this band is a tangibly raw, universal emotional content.
“Silently, I Threw Them Skyward” is available NOW via Through Love Records (Germany), Holy Roar Records (UK) and Shock Records (Australia). Listen to the full record below and head over here to grab your digital copy.
Anwers by Seán Mahon (SM) (vocals), David Kane (DK) (guitar), and Mark Portnoi (MP) (bass).
Hi guys! So, how does it feel? Are you proud of your new baby? Tell us a bit about your personal feelings about the album.
[SM] We’ve been sat on this album for what feels like an eternity, so its a really, really exciting time for us to finally have it out there for people to hear in full. I don’t think we could have written a more organic record so we are really proud to display parts of our tastes that have otherwise been unseen. The initial feedback has been overwhelming and pre-orders in UK and Europe have been amazing. Life is good!
Has your set up changed since early 2014? How was the recording process comparing to your previous experience in this field?
[MP] I’d say the focus on our gear has been to capture the incredible studio sound in a live aspect. We’ve shifted our focus on to the use of Digital pedals in order to consistently recreate the recorded tones of the album, going for a kind of Vintage tone with modern reliability. We still find ourselves playing fairly basic venues from time to time so we strive for a huge, rich sound just from our backline as the skeleton of our live sound.
Truthfully the recording process hasn’t changed much as we have only worked with Lewis Johns at The Ranch. We’ve always loved the idea of tracking live though and this might be something we look into for at least one future release.
Do you want to drop us some fun facts or interesting stories about the birth of “Silently, I Threw Them Skyward“?
[SM] From early last year we had got into a habit of our rehearsal line checks turning into jam sessions. We’d really enjoy listening to them but didn’t really know what the end goal was, we would just enjoy jamming each week.
When we’d gone in to the studio to record our Marionettes live session we’d collectively listen to all the recordings of our jams and we realised a lot of them were actually already quite structured. We landed on the 8 tracks that became ‘Silently, I Threw Them Skyward’ and were really pleased with both the length and track order.
Turning those improvised sessions into songs was a process of recreating what we could pick out from the phone recordings and giving them a more defined structure. We tried to capture the essence of the original jams as much as possible and I’m really happy that we feel the album has done that.
Did you use any new gear, sophisticated pedals, etc. to make the sound bigger? Or did it come naturally along with further enhancement of your skills?
[DK] When we started to tour the self titled EP it was the first time we’d really had the chance to hit the road for an extended period of time, and I think we learned a lot about our gear during that period. We naturally started adding in new bits to our rigs especially pedals, so when we were jamming the new material for the album we already had more pedals and a slightly different set up anyway. I think the new sounds just came out pretty naturally through the jams.
We also had the luxury of having loads more time in the studio to work on the record, which we didn’t have for previous recordings. We had a lot more time to spend experimenting with guitar tones and effects this time around at The Ranch. Lewis has an awesome ear for tone and has some really great equipment, so Brett and I got to spend 5 or 6 days locked away just working on different guitar sounds with him.
What fresh influences played a huge role in your recent explorations and made you want to write for this LP an, I assume, more records?
[SM] I’m not sure there was many ‘fresh’ influences , but more the case that writing a full album and the way we wrote it allowed us all to express ourselves freely without being like ‘okay we should write a song that sounds like X’. We all share a lot of tastes but also have different influences too. Without sounding clichéd we have real trouble trying to describe our ‘sound’ in one sentence now because the album material is really quite varied. A lot of the time we get compared to bands in reviews that truthfully we haven’t heard. I’m really proud of the record in that regard.
By the way, do you have some additional tracks already written? How vast was your bags of ideas for this record? What is your outlook on the possibility for another offering sometime soon?
[SM] We have another bank of rehearsal room jams from the last year that we would like to start working on soon with exactly the same process in mind, but we don’t have any of it properly finished or structured yet.
We’ve been waiting to play material from ‘Silently, I Threw Them Skyward’ for so long I think at the moment we are just really driven to be playing these songs live. Lately we spend our rehearsal time to make sure they are as good as can be. However, we are feeling in a great position knowing we have a bank of more material to start work on. We’re very fortunate in the way we write in that there’s no one driving force or influence, its a true group effort. We really can’t wait to see how this band and our material progresses from here.
The release of “Silently, I Threw Them Skyward” was preceded with a great announcement of your cooperation with Holy Roar Records. How did you team up and what does this pairing mean for the band?
[SM] It was genuinely a real surprise when Holy Roar approached us to release the initial Human Future split and ‘Silently…’. I was always a huge fan of Holy Roar but always assumed we wouldn’t be their cup of tea. I think that massively worked in our favour, especially having read interviews with them and realising he likes to discover and approach bands on his own accord.
Holy Roar have been really supportive, and their confidence in releasing us and being supportive of the more melodic aspects of our material has really rubbed off on us. They’ve been going a long time but their drive and ambition for the label is as big as ever and its really amazing to be a part of a label with such a good ethos and belief behind it. Not to mention the affiliation with a lot of really amazing Holy Roar bands, both past and present.
You’ll be doing your record release show in one week , on my birthday, haha. It would be so nice to see you guys live in action with these stellar new compositions! What can attendees expect from the show and what other tours are you planning to book for later this year?
[SM] Happy birthday for next week! With the way we wrote the album we do now find it difficult picking songs for a 25/30 minute set, especially while we are yet to figure out the ‘fan favourites’. There aren’t any songs that we think we can’t or shouldn’t play and there are definite partnerships where the songs sound particularly good in order.
We are definitely all ‘album’ listeners and I think ‘Silently…’ reflects that. We aren’t sure when we would get a chance to play the album in full again so the show on the 28th seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
I hope that attendees will get a good insight in to us as a band by us playing it in full, and the flow and journey of the album will hopefully really come across in a live context. Sticky Mike’s in Brighton is a great little basement venue and has been a staple for us over the years. The sound in there can be devastatingly good. With any luck we will have videos from the show which we can share online for people like yourself who couldn’t make it.
Ok buddies, considering the artwork and the thematics of some of your lyrics, I simply have to ask… what space-related books and other forms of art have did you recently add to your shelves and collections? Are you heavy cosmos geeks?
[SM] if you wish to make an album from scratch you must first invent the universe! Huge Cosmos fans definitely. Though ashamedly I still haven’t seen the reboot series with NDT. I’ve been reading a lot of sci-fi over the last few years, I’m a big Philip K Dick and H.G Wells fan as well as more comical stuff like Pratchett and Adams. I’ve picked up a lot of sci-fi short story collections too, which I’ve made references to lyrically on the album. I love the way sci-fi can challenge you and raise really important hypothetical and moral questions about us as a species and how we would like to progress.
2001, Star Trek TNG, Battlestar Galactica and loads of other classic sci-fi films and shows have also been on mu rotation at home over the last couple of years which I’d say were also all inclusive to the inspiration towards the themes within ‘Silently…’.
.Thanks a lot for the update guys and, once again, congratulations on the amazing album! Cheers from Poland and see you on the road. I’ll do my best not to miss your next show in Warsaw! Adieu
Always a pleasure, thanks for inviting us!