"Music is another form of counselling, right?” – Adrian Fitipaldes of Northlane

On a busy night in Sydney, Northlane singer Adrian Fitipaldes found the time to talk to us about staying humble in the face of success, the evolution of the metal community in Australia, and the audiobooks behind his lyrics.

When their second album Singularity was released in late March, Northlane was suddenly the name passing lips in the Australian Metal scene, and many people had an opinion. Now it looks like many of their Australian shows on their upcoming tour will be sold out. When I call through to singer Adrian Fitipaldes, he’s getting calls left, right and centre from media who want to know more about this metalcore band from Sydney. Founded in 2009, this five man act are one of the central contributors to the current popularity of metalcore in the Australian heavy music scene, but they’re keeping humble about their success.

On release, Singularity hit number 3 in the Australian ARIA charts, and #1 on Australian iTunes. The music video for the single Quantum Flux has had over 400,000 views on YouTube. Fitipaldes recognises that Northlane’s  fan-base has grown a lot since their first album, so was expecting a bigger reception to the new release. However, he did not expect the extent of the impact the record’s release had, "A lot of stuff happened that was a nice surprise. Through this whole experience I'm just really trying to stay humble, because it is a time of success and a lot of people can let it get to their heads. We're trying our best to make this dream a reality and we're working with some good people in the label. Our guitarist Josh [Smith] is the business head of our band, and we're working day in and day out to make this move as quickly as possible. "

Metalcore, as a genre, has experienced a boom in Australia over the last five years. The heavy metal scene has grown exponentially locally, but in particular the metalcore and related punk/metal hybrid genres have experienced notable success locally and overseas. "I know for a fact there was a period between 2008/2009 where the heavy music scene was a bit stagnant and not really moving.  That changed in 2010/2011, I just think a bunch of good CDs got released in those years,” Fitipaldes explains. He also feels Northlane have had a contribution as part the Metal community in Australia, “I always wanted to help the Australian heavy music scene pick itself back up again. In light of Northlane dropping our first album in 2011, I think it really just helped create community. We've been working closely with a lot of bands across Australia. The sense of community has really evolved, ever since Parkway Drive really became the big Australian Metal band. A lot of labels started up, a lot of management companies started up, a lot of bands started up, and a lot of local scenes started. It just created the environment for bands to tour, and be bigger and play more shows.”

When surrounded by an evolving music scene, many bands coming out of the same region begin to sound similar. Examples of this would be the melodic death metal of the Gothenburg Scene, or the eponymous Bay Area thrash scene. Fitipaldes doesn’t think this metal milieu in Australia has impacted too much on the sound of Northlane though, and isn’t the reason for their success. "The thing any self-respecting bands are trying their hardest to do is to stick out from other bands. Have a more original sound, have a different sound or a different message. I think being in the midst of all the intense evolution of heavy music in Australia, the guys in Northlane and myself are really mindful of trying to do something really original and really creative and different,” Fitipaldes pauses, trying to find the right words to explain. “You always notice that the artists who are truly successful are the ones that are doing something different, and the ones that are doing something original. That’s why I've always thought Linkin Park got popular because they were one of the first bands, alongside Limp Bizkit, to do the whole rap/metal/nu-metal style stuff. It's just an example, but I really think that evolving a different sound and trying to stand apart from the rest really helped our success."

And Northlane have stood out. However, I could not help but notice that in several places they have been declared as a ‘Galacticore’ band. When queried about this, Fitipaldes laughs, "That was an old term we coined a couple of years back. We don't really like labelling ourselves as any particular genre, but something all of the boys in the band have is a deep sense of awe and wonder for nature and the universe. And that’s what really binds us together as brothers and musicians.  It was this spur of the moment word off the top of our heads during an interview for a magazine and it sort of stuck. It actually stuck really hard, because when they released the issue they had GALACTICORE in big bold letters in the article and kids just started calling us that. I would hate people to take it too literally."

As the singer and lyricist of the band, Fitipaldes is trying to do more than just shout words at the audience, he wants to communicate. "I guess the simplest way I can put it is that we really stand for a message of truth. A lot of the truths are about corruption in the world that we don't necessarily see on the TV or news. [It’s] trying to bring the more esoteric truths out into the world. On Singularity, there is a continuing theme of truth as well, but this time it shows it from both perspectives. Not just the dark and negative, but also the positive side of life. I think the truths that we're really trying to get across on Singularity is how wonderfully awesome life is.”

Fitipaldes continues passionately, trying to explain what to him is a driving force over the phone to a stranger. “It's very easy for me to say how wonderful life is, because I have a roof over my head and food in my stomach, and I live in a good country and whatnot. I know there are a lot of people out there who aren't necessarily happy or content with their lives, and by all means if there is something out there that you want, I hope you get what you want. Whether it's something inside of yourself changing, or something outside yourself changing. I hope whatever you desire you attain. But something within me, just learning to be really content with how life is, how things are and the way the world is. Because when you have that realisation you can really be at peace in your own life and with the world. You can truly realise we're a part of the most wondrous miracle, and the most wondrous  mystery of all, the universe and life. Human life in specific. That’s something I really wanted to get across in Singularity. The main truth of how love filled, and blissful and happy life really is.” He starts to apologise at this point, confessing that he could take about this for hours.

So I steer him back to the music, to find out what Northlane were listening to while they were writing and recording their new album. "I assume Jon [Deiley], and all the boys in the band, were cranking this artist Cloudkicker. He's a sort of closet musician who records songs in his bedroom, and puts them up on the internet, but that's one thing we all listen to” Fitipaldes tries to remember, ” I think the Architects album Daybreaker came out at the time and we were all giving that a whirl. We were listening to a lot of Structures and Stray from the Path, two bands that are coming out with us on the Singularity tour. They're our mates' bands and they've also recorded with the same producer, so naturally we were listening to their stuff, sussing out the production, the song-writing and things like that.” Fitipaldes also has a confession to make, “Honestly, because I write the lyrics I listen to a lot of audiobooks and audio lectures and things like that. I know it's not necessarily music, but that helped influence the concepts and lyrical topics I was exploring throughout Singularity.

Before Northlane began to find any success, Fitipaldes was studying a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology at University. In order to dedicate himself to his music. “Back then I really wanted to help people with issues, because I've always been a good listener and a good talker at the same time. I thought if I was going to spend the rest of my life working, I'd rather do something that helps and benefits people.” Dropping study to be a full-time musician may have been a tough call, but Fitipaldes has found it has paid off. “All I ever want to do is make my parents proud, and my family proud. Like any son, I'm a human being. I've let my parents down before. Back in the day, when I was a bit younger and the band wasn't really moving anywhere, they were a bit more anxious about the whole situation. Now that everything is going pretty well, they've really understood that the hard work does pay off and bigger and better things are on the horizon. If you pay attention to what's happening in the band, and our level of success, it looks like it's only up from here." 


Northlane are touring with Singularity tour in Canada from May 3rd to 25th (see here for more information), and in Australia from May 30th to June 15th. 

Remaining Australian tickets available from: http://weareunified.oztix.com.au and OzTix outlets.

Thursday 30th May – Tempo Hotel, Brisbane (18+)
Friday 31st May – Eagleby Community Hall, Brisbane (AA)
Saturday 1st June – The Annandale Hotel, Sydney (18+) SOLD OUT
Sunday 2nd June – The Annandale Hotel, Sydney (U18) SOLD OUT
Sunday 2nd June- The Annandale Hotel, Sydney 18+ 
Tuesday 4th June – HQ, Perth (AA) 
Wednesday 5th June - HQ, Perth (AA) SOLD OUT  
Thursday 6th June – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)
Saturday 8th June – Fowlers, Adelaide, (LIC/AA)
Sunday 9th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+) (Tickets also available from: http://corner.ticketscout.com.au)
Monday 10th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (U18) (Tickets also available from: http://corner.ticketscout.com.au)
Friday 14th June - Hotel New York, Launceston (18+)
Saturday 15th June - Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (AA)
Saturday 15th June - Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (18+)