LostAlone: The Final Interview

In less than one week’s time, LostAlone will be no more. During their nine-year tenure, the band have released three albums: 2007’s Say No To The World, the 2012 follow-up I’m A UFO In This City (co-produced by Gerard Way) and most recently, Shapes Of Screams. In October, the trio – Steven Battelle (vocals, guitar), Mark Gibson (drums, vocals) and Alan Williamson (bass, vocals, hair) – announced that they were to disband, alluding to circumstances that seemed to be out of their control. “This is not something that we wanted to happen, and not a decision we took lightly,” read the statement, “but unfortunately for us, events have transpired that make it impossible for us to continue the band we love.”

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. As Battelle looks ahead to their final shows which take place this week in London and Derby, the frontman explains that the band’s untimely end has not slowed his prolific writing streak as he’s gearing up to release a solo album in 2015…

What’s the mood like in the band at the moment?

“Strangely calm and relaxed. After the initial devastation we all felt, I think collectively we’ve evolved into a position where it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders and we‘ve begun to enjoy being in the room playing together. All the pressures we’d been experiencing have gone and it’s just three friends doing what we love.”

The band formed almost 10 years ago. What’ve been your highlights during this time?

“The first time we played sold out shows in a different country and hearing a room of people singing my words is something that never fails to amaze me still. At every subsequent show, it’s something I’ve never taken for granted. Secondly, is making the records. I liken the recording studio to a hospital and I’m a mother in labour – that’s the point where the songs I’ve been nurturing and feeding for months are finally born into the world. It’s always a natural birth with Mark and Alan acting as the midwives.”

You’re a prolific songwriter. How many songs do you think you’ve written for LostAlone?

“Looking at my iTunes now, I’ve got 3229 songs under the title Dr. Battelle, which is the title I use as an umbrella for everything I write. I have a good few hard drives of older songs and I’ve also got multiple playlists and albums. Under LostAlone, I have 68 albums which includes 627 songs.”

What gives you that creative spark?

“I hear music in my head constantly; it’s like a soundtrack playing along to my life. I don’t need any spark. I’ve never once tried to write a song; in fact most of my time is spent trying not to write. When I allow a song to drop out of my brain, it’s always a victory for melody.”

You recently went to Berlin to write material for your solo album. What made you decide to go there?

“I guess the constant soundtrack I hear in my head changes like music changes in a film, but if you stay in the same place, the theme stays the same – so it’s essential to change the environment. I’ve always liked to travel while focusing on an album to let the moods influence each song. After we made the decision to split, I first traveled to my favourite place on Earth – Montreux in Switzerland. I went alone, armed with some recording gear. So after this short trip spent clearing my mind and mourning the loss of the band I’ve worked at my entire life, I decided to go for an extended period to Berlin, another city I Iove. I spent every day from 10am until 11pm walking the city and letting songs come to me, then I recorded all night. I’d say I’ve completed half my album during this trip –including a song inspired directly by the atmosphere surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down.”

So when do you hope to release the album?

“As you can probably tell, I’m not one for relaxing or resting. I’m hoping to be in the studio early next year and have the record out for the summer. I hope to release something sooner, like a single or an EP.”

Can you give us a hint at what the album will sound like?

“I’m very bad at describing my own music. Yesterday, I multi-tracked myself applauding a guitar solo I’d just done as I felt it deserved recognition mid-song. So you can expect that level of ridiculousness. In fact, that’s a label that I wear with pride – I’m just documenting the music I hear in my head so anything can happen.”

You’ve met your hero Brian May again this year. Here’s a dilemma for you – which one piece of your extensive collection of Queen memorabilia would you rescue from a house fire?

“I’d grab my vinyl box which houses all of the original records. I have some incredible pieces, but at the end of the day, it’s the music that I love.”

What do you have in store for fans attending the sold out shows in London and Derby?

“I guess we’re aiming for the same vibe you’d get at a wake. It’s a celebration of the band’s life, but it’ll also render you emotionally dead by the end. In fairness, I’ve not put this concept to the guys, so it might not work out this way. I just think we want people to leave the shows saying, ‘Why the fuck are this band splitting up?’…”

What will you all do in the coming months, then?

“Writing, making another trip to Montreux, demoing and recording.”

And finally, what will it say on LostAlone’s epitaph?

“I honestly can’t answer this right now. My mind’s been wandering through all the years, back to when myself and Mark formed our band at age 11. It’s too raw…”

LostAlone play their sold out farewell shows at the following venues:

December 18: Barfly, London

December 19: The Venue, Derby

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.