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Interviews : “It feels really good finally getting it out there for people to listen to” – An interview with Lochlan Watt (R U N)

By on June 10, 2020

There is good music, and then there is music that taps into the deepest parts of you, almost being an astounding aural life lesson and new Australian project R U N, featuring Lochlan Watt (The Racket, former live vocalist of Thy Art is Murder, Psycroptic) and Mike Deslandes (YLVA, High Tension) definitely falls under the latter. The duo has been working hard over the last couple of years and has finally released their debut EP ‘For You Will Never Find Peace Within Your Quiet’, an incredibly moving record filled with moments of grief, anger, and joy. Those emotions are brought together beautifully, by combining the fierceness of extreme metal, the aggressive yet accessible nature of hardcore music and that certain euphoric beauty of ambient post-rock. Prarthana from Metal Obsession had the honour of having an insightful conversation with Lochlan about his new project, what it means to him and his journey before, during and after.

Congratulating Lochlan on the release of the first R U N EP, it was wonderful to hear the pride and certain sense of relief with which he spoke about it. “It feels really good finally getting it out there for people to listen to. I knew that it would be received well but it seemed to be received really well – we’re quite happy with it, people are picking it up overseas and stuff too so I couldn’t really ask for that much more.”

An old friend and one who I look up to, I expressed how happy I was that he had finally released music of his own, something I know he had been looking forward to for a long time. We talked about where R U N began and how it initially came together. “ I’ve been trying to get a project in this sort of sonic realm, up and running for a while now – with a couple of different guitarists over the years. But in the last five or six years, nothing ever really came together until this one. 2018 was when things started coming together – personally, it was just a very emotionally brutal and cathartic year. There was a band break up, a suicide, I fell in love, and I had my heartbroken. It reached a point where I was like ‘alright, this has all got to go somewhere, let’s fucking go’.It was only around that year when everything sort of just started lining up after I’d suggest starting the project to Mike several times over the years.”

Guitarist, Mike Deslandes who also plays in Australian bands YLVA and High Tension, is a renowned musician and recording/mix engineer, and a close friend of Lochlan Watt. On first listen of the new R U N record, you can undoubtedly hear that collective experience and emotion of two great minds come together, creating music that is a deeply sonic, personal experience. “ I’ve always wanted to make music with him and he sort of started talking to me about wanting to get into more of a producer kind of role as opposed to just being the guy that presses the ‘record’ button. He was looking at getting into more projects where he would be the person to help build stuff from the ground up and help people like me bring their musical ideas to reality. There was never a second option for me once I started talking to Mike and once the idea crystallised, I thought I would just see if Mike wants to do it as a job. It all went forward from there.”

When I first heard about this project, I was most intrigued by Lochlan and Mike coming together to create something new; given that I’ve only seen them work individually, on their respective bands and projects. In addition to this, the collective experience of both, in life and in the music industry is a treasure in itself and one that is reflected in R U N. “After everything that we’ve both been through, we needed to have some kind of release. Mike’s been through some dark times and was going through them around the same time that I was going through everything. Even though the music is my story, I think we were both in a dark place and it’s definitely come through in the emotional output of the music. I’ve put so much emotion into this – there were times when it got difficult as neither of us are of completely sound mental health all the time, so, sometimes when you’re trying to write music with other people, there are those little molehills that turn into mountains. Addressing deadlines, putting together the music, artwork etc, we were actually supposed to get it all finished about a year or two ago.  However, despite all the struggles and everything we went through to get this record done, it somehow feels like we accidentally landed in the perfect spot.”

Around the middle of last year, Lochlan shared with his fans and friends that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, an experience that has deeply impacted him as well as his music. While most of the writing had been finished before he went in for his surgery, the recording hadn’t. We discussed the process of recording the music during this trying time and how both Lochlan and Mike got through it, as well as how it inspired the writing of the second track ‘Will Never’. “Most of it was done before my health went to shit; one song that didn’t exist at that point was ‘Will Never’. But writing-wise, we just sat down and built it together, deciding how each song’s going to be, what each one needs. We were efficient in that way. However, my health just put a deadline on it. There was a point where I was like ‘Shit we have to finish recording and soon because I’m going to have my head cut open and it might not ever be the same again.’ It was scary, of course, but also strangely fitting because the song that hadn’t been written yet was supposed to be the angry, frantic and nasty kind of black metal track. Initially, we couldn’t find the groove for it but when everything started happening the song just came together. I remember I went to Mike’s place one weekend just to do a few more sessions when there was a phone call that a spot for my surgery had opened up. That weekend was it – we had to get the recording done and so we did. From there it took a while to finish the guitar, drums, mixing etc but we got it done.  If anything, dealing with my health while trying to release my music was complicated but it was my path. It’s taught me a lot about patience.”

Musically, R U N brings together elements of different styles, the end result being an intense, diverse and captivating blend of black metal, extreme metal and metalcore. ‘For You Will Never Find Peace Within Your Quiet’ is a unique consolidation of not just these styles but Lochlan and Mike’s many years of musical artistry and experience. “ I’d like to think that – I wanted it to be a patchwork quilt of everything that I’ve ever done and there’s definitely more recent life events that have guided the lyrics but at the same time I think they’re written from a perspective that has 32 years of experience. Even though it’s more about looking forward I can definitely see the strong roots that it’s got laid into every aspect of my past. I think the main two examples I keep coming back to in this are MIsery Signals and Deafheaven – two of my favourite bands. Their level of musicality and the way that those bands use melody and a just a bittersweet kind of approach that they have to their tone – there’s a lot of crossover there that no one had really done before. There weren’t a bunch of bands with that style that I could really go and listen to and a lot of people like those two styles and those bands so that’s where I thought to myself ‘I guess I need to make that band’.”

An absolutely beautiful name for the EP and a rather thought-provoking phrase, I asked Lochlan to give me a little more insight into what it meant to him as well as what R U N stands for. “Honestly, it just popped into my head one day when we were walking home from Mike’s house one day and I think it was right after we had worked out that there was going to be five songs. It made sense to me. It’s a reflection of feeling unease unless I’m doing something. There’s a lot of stuff on the record that has double or different meanings and layers. But I think it also has to do with keeping things inside or getting things off your chest. The whole thing about running, I guess, is that people have a tendency to avoid situations so that’s on one level but on another level, I think it’s about momentum and tackling things head-on. There’s definitely some personal reminders in there for myself but I’m hoping that others can also gain something from it.

R U N had a special way of revealing their music to their world – they dropped one single every day up until the release of the full EP on May 29th. Along with the tracks, came a series of beautiful animated videos and Lochlan shared his thoughts behind them, the artwork as well as what inspired the concept. “ It was just an idea I had because I thought to myself about doing things differently with R U N. We didn’t want to do the traditional lyric videos and wanted to come up with a way for people to experience the music differently. The Ocean is a band that I’ve always loved and am so influenced by. They’ve done some similar things with their music, that is having a visual component so I sat down with Pat Galvin, the legend behind our artwork and the videos to flesh it all out. I started getting really deep with the ideas, working out the different layers of art and colours, what belonged to which song and getting quite carried away with how far we could take to make an outstanding, top to bottom audio visual project.”

“With the art, the concept is basically mine but Pat put it together.  It’s what I had visualised. Something that greatly impacted me was when Chris from We Lost The Sea committed suicide and it still affects me to this day. Following that was another suicide of a close friend in early 2018 and those two incidents were something that I wanted to incorporate into my art. Mike and I are just both really into plants and we love our gardening and so the tree is sort of an in-joke – the idea of a bonsai represents those who are having a crack at playing younger peoples metal or a younger style. It also represents a bit of immaturity I guess. The mountains are the challenges that we face and the space of infinite nothing is just that; representing life and death. All of the colour in the middle, which is only there for a little bit and then it’s gone. There’s a lot to it.”

Before the world delved into chaos and a pandemic, R U N had a plan in mind that involved bringing their diverse sound to the stage for live performances. But that changed rapidly in the early months of 2020, resulting in a change of plan for the duo and Lochlan’s thoughts on those changes were discussed as well as what’s in store for R U N’s future. 

“I had basically started booking shows for a full-fledged tour that we were supposed to be doing in August. But we only have five songs and knew that we were going to need to write a little more – at least an intro and outro to fill in the gaps and make a full half-hour set. In that regard, we may have been rushing to get out the gate because playing live seemed to be the only logical objective but now that that isn’t an option, we’re rethinking how to go about things. I think we’ve been handed a pretty unique opportunity here, to establish a little bit more of a catalogue and a reputation, get our name out there before we worry about taking it to the next level.”

“As for R U N, moving forward after we’re done with all the work and merch for this release,  I’ve started that process and have the concept for the next EP in my head at the moment. I’m not 100% committed to it yet but it’s there. So once everything for this record is done, I’ll get  stuck into writing the next one; we’re going to try doing it a bit differently now that we’ve got the momentum.”

Lochlan Watt really is a true role model and inspiration for many in this industry and otherwise. Having come back post cancer-surgery with such gusto, to his show The Racket, and releasing a powerful new album, living his best life, I asked him to share some words of wisdom to those that will listen and the message he is trying to convey through R U N. “That’s a big one. The truth is, everyone’s situation is different but I guess what I’m really trying to convey with this record and with the way that we’re putting this music out is you don’t have to do everything by the book because the book is quite visibly broken and the book is not always right. So you don’t have to do certain things a certain way just because that’s how it was done yesterday. We need to move forward in this industry because there’s so much room right now for things to change. I think if we take that into consideration, things will be easier in the future.”

To find out more about R U N, head to the band’s official Facebook page. Pre-orders for the forthcoming release available here.

About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.