on the frontline of intellectual youth
Seek Warmer Climes is a defining moment for Lower. A debut album, a crystallising of their obvious talents, they are no longer lunkheaded teenagers. They are a formidable post-punk band.
Death rock, jangly lo-fi, intelligence and scathing; intense personal experiences permeate the poetic lyricism that lies beneath a calculated, reflective hyperrealist aesthetic. Each track tangles with tension; relationships gone awry, African travelogues gone awry and, well, life gone awry. The album has landed them a spot on a tour with hardcore titans Fucked Up and a place on that hallowed indie Mecca; the Matador Records roster. We caught up with them before their show at Scala to talk about coming of age and how it feels to be batting in the major leagues.
“We didn’t have any specific goal as to who was to put the record out”, guitarist Simon Formann says of that pivotal signing. “We decided to finish it completely and then see who would be interested in putting it out, rather than signing and then having to work for it to sound how a specific label would want it.” “It was like a natural progression, it’s not anything we decided” singer Adrian Toubro continues when we suggest their success may have been impacted by their evolved sound, a reproach from their earlier hardcore influences. Simon meditates on this new approach: “When we started we didn’t agree on being a hardcore band. One thing we did agree was to play loud and fast, and we did that. This time round we just kinda played what we felt like and developed it from there.”
Adrian’s deeply introspective lyrics are a key aspect to Lower’s appeal. “Life experiences, relationships, the human condition, lyrics about being a human being, you know? I’m sure the issues I approach are things everyone has approached, or at least that’s the goal.” Simon quickly adds, “it’s poetic without being mysterious.”
Aesthetic is clearly important to Lower, it’s essential to them that their image reflect their sound. The band’s bassist Kristian Emdal is dressed impeccably, intimidatingly, head to toe in white as he talks about his vision for their recent music video Soft Option. “The basic idea was to get the four of us round a table and discuss something that would inspire some degree of frustration or aggression” he says, emphatically. “That was my romantic idea of us sitting round a table like you’d see in a movie about an Italian family or something…” A Michael Haneke film, we suggest. He smiles. “Yeah, definitely! Like in a Haneke film, you see not the actions but the reactions.” Simon nods in agreement. “We wanted to avoid all the normal things you’d have in a music video, like leaves falling or a horse running or whatever. We wanted something that just shows us.”
Simon explains that the reality of their success hit home when they recently played a show at LA’s Church on York along with 14 other bands from Copenhagen, “It was a lot of fun, very chaotic.” He glances at Kristian who holds back a smirk as he tells us, “it was like … an avalanche of Danish people.” Their recent touring schedule has been relentless – and their set that evening at Scala displayed an intensely committed live band – but when they do get a chance to rest, they’re never resting for long. “It’s important to keep doing different stuff”, Simon sounds off on his own techno side project Yen Towers and Kristian’s noise output as Age Coin. “You learn from what you’re doing, if you do something down one lane you might learn something you want to take into another. It’s like in life: if you can function in a certain situation then you can take that into another relationship or social context.”
Lower are deeply confident young men and rightly so; they are, along with a handful of other young bands (Perfect Pussy as role models for feminine rebellion, or Copenhagen’s other princes of intellectual confrontation Iceage) deconstructing punk. As the band pile out one by one to soundcheck, we ask Adrian what’s next. “I guess we’ll tour” he says, “then we’ll record another album in six months or so and it will sound completely different but it will work…” A wryness crosses his face. “Perfectly.”
Seek Warmer Climes is a out now via Matador Records.