On the upcoming release of their third studio album entitled ‘The Hope List’, Lucy caught up with Jack Bennett, the front man and newest member of the Cambridge alternative rock band Lonely The Brave. Teasing of a promising reception of their latest record due to be released in the new year, they discuss the album’s sensational singles, changes in their group dynamic and the trials and tribulations of recording during a pandemic.
With the run-up towards the end of what has been a turbulent year for the music industry, there is no doubt that artists everywhere have felt an overwhelming sense of demotivation in trying to salvage their craft, with the loss of live performance at the heart of the industry. However, this has not stopped Lonely The Brave from pursuing their artistry, since this year has offered the five-piece a chance to reflect on their ten-year journey and the gradual creation of a new record. Thriving off their enthralling and passionate live performances, not only have the band had to face the challenges that 2020 has presented for musicians, but this is also the first album that will feature their new frontman Jack Bennett after the departure of their formal lead vocalist in 2018.
“I’ve done a lot of gigs with them at different festivals – not with them but supporting them,” Bennett explains describing his induction into the band, “so Mark, that’s one of the guitarists, messaged me and was just like ‘Would you be free to come down to check out some songs and just try and rehearse, we’ll see if we can come up with something whether it’s a band or a new thing?’ basically.” Following this conversation with the group’s lead guitarist Mark Trotter, Bennett’s venture into the world of Lonely The Brave would begin as he admits: “From my understanding of it, I don’t think they had too many sort of people lined up for who they wanted to sing. So, I guess I was lucky in that way…I can’t imagine auditioning for anything, or certainly I can’t imagine if I’d have gone in and said ‘please like my voice!’ (laughs).”
Stumbling across a band like Lonely The Brave in such a vast industry is something that should be treasured, as the band take inspiration from the likes of Kings of Leon, Biffy Clyro, and Kasabian. Perhaps what produces the musical chemistry between each band member is the influence of a plethora of artists and genres across the board as Bennett describes: “There was loads of stuff like they all have their own ideas…I guess I’ve always listened to a lot of pop and hip-hop and R&B because that’s what I grew up with my brother and I playing a lot of the time.” Whilst for the majority of bands recording in a studio with a professional producer may be the right direction for their sound, Lonely The Brave took a different approach as Bennett produced the record from the comfort of his own home to an exquisite quality, demonstrating the power of home recordings. “We’ve not even played the songs, which feels ridiculous like you would sometimes know what your format is and I’ve certainly done this in the past where we’ve actually written a full song, everyone’s song and everyone’s done everything on it and then you go and record it but for us it wasn’t like that – it was quite a different experience,” Bennett discusses the almost unorthodox approach that the group took towards building each song on the record.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to record stuff,” admits Bennett as he explains the challenges the band faced whilst balancing their work life with their music career to create the album, “I’m lucky enough to have a studio here, so it was a recording and rehearsal space – I would just demo stuff, set up a microphone…we did a bit of pre-production from that…because the guys have their full kind of schedule since they all work full time, we’d only really have weekends.” Gifted not only vocally but also technically, Bennett’s production takes influence from the works of artists that lie outside the pool of alternate rock for example the likes of Zedd, Allan Stone and Charlie Puth, and despite the heavy differences between the genres, it is explicit that Bennett is mastering his craft when it comes to producing a sonically stunning masterpiece like ‘The Hope List’. “The last bit of the album was actually luckily January this year…I think Mark was joking about the fact that they came in and did these guitars on like a Saturday morning because we didn’t have the time to really sit with it,” Bennett elaborates on how the band pieced together the last parts of the recording procedure, “I spent as long as it needed basically to get it to sound right for everyone – having the idea of what I thought they wanted to hear from the songs was like I’d already won half the battle – you go into production and you just try to work it out.”
Whilst the new record expresses the Lonely The Brave’s private experiences and centres around the theme of hope, Bennett makes it unequivocal that although the band want their audience to resonate with the record, for him “it’s always been about performance and melody”. Undoubtedly, they are not striving to be an internet band, but instead musicians that live and breathe for playing to live audiences. Bennett’s favourite song on their new record, entitled ‘Heavy Heart’, evokes a wave of nostalgia for him as he states: “It just always reminds me of ‘Only By The Night’ by Kings of Leon. I love the idea of less is more and having to strip back something where it sounds good, but it doesn’t usually seem to come across in a band where there’s two guitarists and a bassist. A lot of the time that there’s less than that, there’s fragility coming out of just singing softer stuff…in this way it sounds more exposed.” Throughout this song, Bennett’s best attributes shine through as the chocolatey velvet of his voice intertwines with the transient sonorities of Trotter’s guitar lines to create the most stripped back track on the album. There is undeniably something for everyone on this album, which is why it has been so highly anticipated by fans of the band that have continued to support them despite the change in band dynamic.
Prior to the release of new material and the new line up, Lonely The Brave have an impressive following with over eleven million listens on some of their top songs. When talking success, Bennett only wants the best for his band members as he claims, “I don’t care how many albums we sell, if the band are happy with an album that I’ve literally jumped on…that’s all I can really do.” On behalf of the band, Bennett’s attitude towards taking criticism is inextricably mature as he admits: “Sometimes with people it’s been a case of already having a comparison before anybody’s heard anything because they don’t like my vocals…It’s so hard to not be judged. So, I put it to that – I don’t really care about that being a thing. Like I actually find it quite funny now because people love to rip so hard into things that other people love so I love putting effort into anything, whether it’s film, whether it’s music, whatever art. Anything like that is incredible.” This positive approach towards the musicianship of Lonely The Brave is what has kept them motivated in such dark times and mirrors the main message and purpose of their upcoming release perfectly.
With a supportive following, comes great responsibility and for fans of the band striving to be as dedicated as them to their artistry, Bennett stresses not only the advantages of a fantastic musical knowledge but also the importance of a handful of connections in the industry. In fact, one of those connections that nurtured Bennett’s musical journey was Kerrang!’s very own Alex Baker, known for his talent-spotting as he admits, “Baker is one of the reasons that I regain faith in the music industry, in general, because I just sent him some stuff one time and he was like ‘Yeah – absolutely – this I’m gonna play on and on and on!’ and that’s where my PR got involved.” Perhaps if it was not for this particular connection, Bennett would not have unearthed his entrance into the music industry and Lonely The Brave. It seems that his venture into the band and their sonic journey has been met with great support from the existing following as he expresses: “We just worked hard on it and the people are really responsive to that so there’s definitely a level of success because we’re happy with it…at least if you don’t have to do anything else, you can just do music full time and I’m lucky enough to do that anyway. That’s thanks to my parents – that freedom to just be able to do that…I would love to give that to any kids or any sort of family.” Bennett’s outlook on his experience in the industry is something to be admired as he says, “It’s way more inspiring to create music when there’s no f**king barriers, and you know it becomes less and less of a job.”
Lonely The Brave’s third album is set to enthral their expanding audience as they plan for a release early next year. With a tour also on the horizon in April, it will be an incredible adventure to witness as a follower of the five-piece and their new sound. As Bennett makes his stunning debut on the album, it seems that this new line-up is like a breath of fresh air for the band as they keep pressing forward and stopping at nothing to produce music of an impeccable quality that demonstrates their commitment to their artistry. Expectations are certainly set high for what these determined and beautifully gifted musicians will achieve in the next year. Perhaps their new and enticing record, ‘The Hope List’, may prove to be exactly the hope we need stepping into a new year in the music industry.
Interview and words: Lucy Tessier