Rushonrock was able to get some time with lead singer Steven Battelle to pick his brains about the record, lockdown and what comes next…
Steven, you say that he barricaded the doors to his LostAlone self after the ‘final’ show. How long did you feel that other self knocking at the door before you let it in?
The faint knocking started the day after the “final show” and it steadily tormented me for years, forcing many furious note making sessions on how it could work and then discarded.
The songs were always coming but I forced myself to not allow them to go any further than the deepest part of my mind, never bringing them to the guitar.
I finally felt overwhelmed in November 2019 while traveling to New York on the QM2 and everything suddenly felt possible, the disconnect from reality that being in the middle of the Atlantic was exactly what I needed to take the leap.
Was it a smooth process to get the band back together again and jump into the recording studio? Was the old chemistry still there or did it take a while to click?
I think we were all a little nervous the first time we got into the rehearsal room together and we sat talking a lot before one of us suggested, should we actually play! The nerves we were sharing were of the expectations we have of ourselves.
The most satisfying and maybe surprising thing was how it just felt like (and to paraphrase Bowie) The Next Day.
It very quickly became apparent that right then we could probably play a show consisting of any song from our first three records and that all those years of rehearsing all day every day or touring had fully installed like a hard drive within us, it just hadn’t gone away.
The thing that needed work was building a set list and become gig fit!
With two albums and an EP, your solo career was productive. Did you need to be surrounded by more people to unlock the next stage of your musical life as you came out of the pandemic?
My solo records are like diaries of such a transitional, strange time in my life. My band ended, I left my hometown for London and I spent a lot of my time in America writing songs for other people. So although my solo records are just me I actually felt more surrounded by people than I ever have before. Coming back to LostAlone just felt more secure and safe in the most UNSAFE way.
Can we expect more from LostAlone after The Warring Twenties is released?
Definitely, I’ve already written a bunch of songs that we will record before the end of the year for release in 2023. I have a total desire to keep LostAlone music coming now until I expire.
I’ve had songs like Blood Is Sharp, Vesuvius and The Bells! The Bells! on repeat recently. Can fans expect songs as heavy as those on The Warring Twenties?
Oh cool, love to hear that! I think The Warring Twenties is the most relentless and probably heaviest collection of songs we’ve done.
Maybe it was the times in which it was written but the heavier, riffier side of me is a lot more prevalent on this record whereas on the first three albums I always allowed and loved to have ALL my moods represented across an album this record is more focused on heaviness.
The record owes its existence to remote work, was that difficult to adjust to and what challenges did that throw up?
It actually strangely felt natural, almost like the way this was meant to be. It gave it a bunker mentality, sending out parts to Mark and Alan for them to play, receiving them back to pack them off to mixers based all over the planet.
I think because of making my solo records very much alone this way of working had become very normal for me, the only thing that felt different was that we never played the songs in a room before actually recording them and the first time we played them together was rehearsing this year for shows!
Following on from that, how did the pressures of lockdown living influence the material?
I have asthma and so I took lockdown very seriously. I didn’t leave my apartment in London for six months at the start of the pandemic. The isolation informed the record hugely and really was my meditation and my reason to be during that time.
I’m sure for all of us it feels like 2019 was last year and the twenties so far have been a blur and almost non existent. For me they were full of making a record that I had to keep reminding myself would see the light of day, someday!
On Punchline Punched Back, what are you punching back against?
It’s a song for a younger me and for all those people who think that it’s never going to get better. It’s a song about turning toxicity into sweet victory while never compromising your ethics or morals. It’s karma with a little Arnold Schwarzenegger references.
The Last Drop of Forever is about trying to make the most of the moment. What other themes do you cover?
The lyric “ambitions an affliction every moment is a mission” sums up a lot of the album for me. The record and the way it was written was like a therapeutic and indeed a therapy session for me. Coming to the songs every day and being able to work out all the confusion, happiness, frustrations, euphoria highs and low lows made these songs my best friends and I’m still grateful to them for helping me get somewhere to understanding my brain.
And have you got any more messages to yourself threaded through the album?
Every song I write seems to hold the answers to questions that I need answering six months or a year in the future, sometimes it can be playing the song in rehearsal or on stage when suddenly it hits me and I know exactly what I was telling future me. It’s gotten to the point where I think it must be quite obvious to those around me when these moments happen because I totally zone out.