We caught up with Madina Lake’s drummer Dan Torelli before his band hit the stage and blew a hole in it (not literally, don’t worry) with their infectious and uplifting brand of alternative rock at The Duchess in York. We chatted about the recovery of his bandmate Matthew Leone, new music and his ideal super-power.
“Matthew gave us the confidence to do this tour”
S] How was Sonisphere?
DT] It was amazing man. I think that was the biggest stage we have ever played on. We were a little nervous just doing it as a three-piece, and obviously it was our first show without Matthew and the stage was just massive. It would’ve been okay if we had been able to ease into it, but we literallly flew over, had a party at the Kerrang Awards and so felt like sh**, and then all of a sudden it was Sonisphere and the biggest stage we have ever played on. I spoke to a lot of people afterwards and they seemed to really enjoy it. It was very nerve-racking because Matthew is really the face of our band and so it’s difficult to do this without him.
S] Matthew brings a lot of energy to the band in general, how are you coping without him right now?
DT] It’s really hard, and touring without him is especially difficult because, not only is his live presence amazing and of course, he is always all up in the crowd, but he everybody knows that he does most of the press and the talking, so now that we have come over here without him, we are having to do all of this stuff that we are not used to.
We weren’t actually going to do any of this – we were going to cancel everything because we didn’t think that we would be able to tour. Matthew got out of his most recent surgery about a week before we got here and we talked to him about all of it and he said, ‘You guys should really go’. I think that he appreciates that all if the support coming from over here in the UK for him and the band is just massive. He gave us confidence to do this tour, because that’s the kind of guy that he is.
S] Can you tell us about the Through The Pain Benefit for Matthew that you guys are doing over in the States – are there plans to do more?
DT] I think so, a good friend of ours named Ryan Mano organised everything – he came on the last tour and did some documenting and stuff with his HD camera and became a really close friend to the band. It’s been crazy, I mean there’s been auctions and benefit show. If you go to the websites throughthepain.org, our website or the Pledge Music site, you don’t have to look very far before you find yourself immersed in all of these cool things that people are doing. It’s going to be happening for a while because those medical bills are ridiculous. It will take a while, but we are making good progress.
S] You had the Smashing Pumpkins behind you for a benefit show as well – tell us more about that?
DT] Oh man! That was the craziest thing ever. First off all, it was at our favourite venue in Chicago where we all saw our favourite bands. It was always our goal to play there while we were still a local band – it was our dream. So, the place itself is special but to see Billy Corgan [vocals, Smashing Pumpkins] perform on stage and then come out for an encore to do ‘1979‘ with Matthew was amazing, almost surreal. Billy Corgan didn’t have to do that – he was just being really cool.
S] So you guys are playing York tonight – can you tell us a little bit about how important it is for you to come and do these more intimate shows?
DT] I think that it is awesome man. We came to do Sonisphere and that was the main thing, but to have the opportunity to do smaller level stuff like this is the coolest thing. We are right up in everyone’s faces and the energy is so palpable. Of course it’s cool to play a festival like Sonisphere, but even between the stage and the crowd there is this massive front barrier – it’s like 20 rows back and especially from my perspective on the drum-riser, it seems really far back, so while it is cool – it’s a little bit disconnected. This is the completed opposite and The Duchess is a cool club.
S] You guys are back in the van?
DT] Yeah. It’s cool. The thing we are in right now – we did our first two tours here in that. When we were doing the smaller venues, we rented the van we are in. It makes no sense to spend on a bus when it would only be half-full as it’s just the three of us this time and a tour manager. It feels very nostalgic and we’ve got that excitement back that we first had. We’ve also come to the same kind of clubs too, and we really like that. It keeps everything real.
S] Tell us about some of the writing you guys are doing at the moment?
DT] We started writing in the Spring and we came up with about five songs that will be on the Codex EP which has been delayed but it will be out as soon as Matthew is better and we can get ourselves back together. Everyone who has ordered one will get those pretty shortly and then other than that, we have about half an album’s worth of material written. We’ve not been doing anything really for the last month, this is the first thing that we have done. Now, that we have these songs we will go back over the summer and make sure Matthew is okay and begin writing again.
S] How will the new album, tentatively titled ‘World War III’ expand on the Madina Lake concept?
DT] It’s going to resolve everything from the last two albums, the EP doesn’t really have that much to do with it but the third record will. The EP is going to be the bridge between the second and third record. We’ve always said that it would be this three record cycle, and it will be. It’s going to tie it up. I can’t really say too much obviously because Nathan still has to write the lyrics. We’ve run that risk before, then all of a sudden Nathan feels trapped because he feels like it has to mean a certain thing. We always want to put the music first and let him do his thing.
When we started and said that we were going to do this thing over three records, we didn’t know how it was going to happen, and now we are approaching the third record, we are all like, ‘What are we going to do next?’
S] What would you like to say to the UK fans that have supported Matthew and the band as well?
DT] Everybody has always been great and we have been hanging out with people. There seems to be this really heavy-duty energy. That’s the biggest compliment that we can have as a band is when people come up and say that our music has helped them through tough times. Now, this has happened to us, our fans our helping us through stuff. I feel like we are helping each other out. Everyone has been overwhelming.
Nathan was saying before that when Matthew was starting to recover and, he was sitting by his bed reading e-mails and letters – we know that the positive energy we have received has really helped Matthew to get better.
S] How will Madina Lake be developing sound-wise for the next album?
DT] It’s going to follow on from the last album, ‘Attics To Eden‘, but it will definitely change. It’s a bit early to predict though, because we don’t have many songs. A lot of times, things really come together at the end. Our last album, sounded a lot different from the first, in terms of the production and also the songs are a lot different. The third record is also shaping up to be like that. We wouldn’t want to re-hash the same songs for the next seven years. We are constantly inspired by new things. I think we are going to try and get a different sound from the new record as well. We will always incorporate all three albums into our setlist and hang on to certain songs because we love them. I think the new album will be pretty different.
S] A lot of rock bands have been through loss this year, and often they will have a difficult time carrying on – what has kept you inspired to keep going?
DT] We are just so lucky that he’s coming out of it. Before we came he had his last serious surgery before we came out here. They were talking about brain surgery and cracking skulls – so that was the last big scary thing that we had to deal with and now the doctor says that he is ‘out of the woods’ and on his way back. I feel so lucky that we are in that situation. If we were to have lost him – I don’t know. A lot of bands have carried on after things like that, and I honestly don’t know how. This really shook us. It’s just good that we are not dealing with anything else!
S] What keeps you guys passionate about making new music, touring and keeping Madina Lake alive?
DT] I think it’s all about re-inventing yourself and getting new inspiration. I think it’s amazing that I get to do this. As cool as it is, it can get really redundant. A lot of it is the same thing every day and it all blends into one. You have to keep doing new stuff like writing new songs, and that’s always just as exciting as it was when we were doing it in bands when we were younger. It’s also important to change up little things on stage so that it’s continually exciting.
S] What advice would you give to younger bands starting out that are going through their own troubles and trying to keep on creating new music?
DT] This means everything to us. We put everything into it. It’s the only thing we feel like we can do. So, if it’s as important to you, then you have to do everything that you possibly can to keep it going. You talked about doing things in the van – sometimes it might seem impossible to make it to a show, or do a session with this guy – you have to say yes to everything. That’s ended up in the long-run, helping us out. Even if these things end up being a pain, you just need to take every opportunity you can. You have to maintain the attitude that you are never too good for anything.
S] Is there a song from your back-caalogue that you feel defines the state of Madina Lake currently?
DT] Yeah, there’s a new song called ‘They’re Coming For Me‘, and we are going to release it as a single – it’s not out right now, but it is being mastered as we speak. We decided to put it out before the third record comes out, and with everything that is going on right now, it just seems right. We finished it about a week before everything happened with Matthew. It’s so bizarre because, we could never have predicted that anything like this could happen. Now, listening to the song and the way it sounds musically, emotionally and Nathan‘s lyrics – it sounds like we wrote it because of this. It sounds like Nathan is talking about this event. It’s really weird, but it makes me believe that we wrote this song for a reason.
S] If you could have any super hero’s power, what would it be and why?
DT] Flying! It just sounds like the coolest thing I could ever imagine and it’s always been the way ever since I was five and watching Superman. I guess for the obvious reasons that would be bad ass!
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