Interview: Lochlan Watt Discusses New Metal Project R U N

R U N is a new Australian project built on several collective decades spent toiling through success and failure within the Australian heavy music underground. A duo compromised of vocalist Lochlan Watt (former live member of Thy Art Is Murder/Psycroptic) and guitarist Mike Deslandes (YLVA/High Tension), they pull together extreme metal fury, hardcore accessibility, and the heady contemplation of post-rock into a sound that you’ve likely heard in various places several times before - just never quite blended together like this. 

Lochlan Watt is one of the most recognisable names in Australian heavy music. As the long running host of triple j’s metal program THE RACKET, Watt was the frontman of his own heavy bands Nuclear Summer and Colossvs, before stepping up as the live vocalist for Australian extreme elites Thy Art Is Murder and Psycroptic. We were able to have a chat with Lochlan about the upcoming EP, how this project came to be, his intense personal upheavals and much more.

Thanks for taking the time to chat today about your new and exciting project R U N, I really appreciate it. First things first, how are you doing right now? What's life like for you currently with the whole COVID-19 situation?

I'm pretty good in general, I've moved out to the bush I guess you could say with my partner out at her place. I still have a job, which is nice. I'm just excited about R U N, and where it has strangely landed in the scheme of all of this madness.

Are you able to give us a bit of a backstory for those who aren't exactly familiar as to how this new venture came to be between Mike and yourself?

Well, the short version is basically he and I have been making records together in some capacity or have just been around the same bands and studio for roughly the past ten years. I've always wanted to work with him, and more recently he's started expressing the desire to get into more sort of songwriter based production, to help flesh projects out and to help people like myself write music and pull things together. R U N was kind of the first major one of those things that came together, we kept pushing and pushing for it and everything just lined up and it was something we were both able to afford to deal with in terms of time with money. It snowballed pretty quickly creatively into and exciting and mutual venture, which I don't think either of us originally thought would happen. Then we made a record, and here we are.

That's awesome. Is this a project that you hope to take to the stage and perform live once restrictions are lifted and everything is back up and running again?

Yeah, eventually. We had planned to play shows this year in August, and then that didn't come through obviously. But, we've both played heaps of shows and have been in heaps of bands and I would like to keep doing that at some stage with Mike. Given the circumstances and given the fact that we really only kind of have one relatively short release so far, it sort of feels like an appropriate situation for us to maybe focus on creating more music for the time being. I guess, we've already diverted course towards that as opposed to putting out a record and getting on stage straight away. We're just going to focus on putting out a record, and then another record, and just making good music.I'm sure restrictions will start to life as the year goes on, and gigs of some kind will start happening. But we're not in any rush to train people up to speed and get in there and get up on stage as soon as possible. I think we've been given a rather unique opportunity, and that we should just take that for creative purposes, and by the time things start going back to normal, if they ever do, we'll hopefully have a pretty solid catalogue and a solid following which will justify playing some decent shows.

Totally, that sounds like a well thought out plan. In terms of your sound, I absolutely love the blend of metalcore and black metal crossover on this release. What was the intention behind the sound you guys ended up creating together?

Well, yeah basically the metalcore and black metal crossover was the main original idea. We knew that we wanted it to be a little more diverse than that, but the way it just came to be with the writing on each track would just end up with having a different little flavour sprinkled on it. We took things from other stuff we've heard as well, but the metalcore and black metal crossover was the basis for it. Both styles I really like and I just didn't understand why I couldn't find a band to listen to that really just straight up combined the two in sort of equal measures. Because it does seem like a really obvious thing to do, to me you know, the melody and the tones of Deafheaven and Misery Signals both have pretty big common middle ground. It just seemed like it was ripe for the taking almost, here's this perfect combination that nobody has really done and I'd love to hear it so why don't we make that?

Yeah, for me personally if you add the 'blackened' element to almost any style of metal, it instantly becomes better. Whether it's death metal or hardcore, there's just this rawness and extreme feeling that evokes you when listening to it, would you agree?

Yeah I wouldn't say it makes it better in all cases, but it definitely gives it that feel in all cases. It can definitely give it that more extreme edge and just some satisfying kind of like, grimness.

You mentioned Misery Signal and Deafheaven, were there any more bands, old or new, that you took influence from when creating the music for R U N?

Yeah heaps, Rosetta would be a massive one. The Ocean would also be another, those are a couple of post-metal bands that I really love and that we also looked to for a couple of points. I think unintentionally a bit of Killswitch Engage kind of ended up in there, with that melodic vocal on the third track which is very Killswitch. So many, there's a bit of Converge and Slipknot going on during the second track. Maybe a bit of a Hopesfall kind of post-hardcore thing in the fourth track and that whole double kicky, black metal feel from the final track, I basically just ripped off that Astronoid band. I almost feel like the EP is littered with little love letters for my favourite bands and just these little nods to music that has impacted my life in one way or another. I think Fit For An Autopsy and that whole world of Will Putney production and the records that he does also had a pretty big influence on how we went into it and how we thought about songwriting.

Did your battle with cancer and having brain surgery, and just everything you've been through during that horrible time in your life play a big factor when you were writing the lyrics for this EP? Was it a good creative and emotional outlet for you to have during that time?

Well, everything except for the second track was already written lyrically before that all happened, but I think if you read the lyrics to that second track "Will Never" then it's definitely very obviously about having a life threatening experience. The interesting thing was writing about life and death in a really dramatic and extreme way, and I guess before that I had been through some personal experiences in the last few years with loss and death which affected me quite a bit. Then having my own experience, being about as confronting as you can get basically. My personal experience with that towards the end of writing strangely just brought it all together. It wasn't like we were sitting there and thinking I'm going to have this experience and we're going to write about that. But it definitely gave the impetus for a whole songs worth of lyrics and then just it just all pulled together and I think it really made it seem like what I was writing about was real and worthwhile.

Is there anything else that fans can look forward to that perhaps you might have in-store for the release? Any words you'd like to say before we head off?

We're doing some pretty different stuff with the actual physical product side of things which I guess everyone will see soon, so I'm pretty excited for everyone to see that. We're actually putting out a cardboard 12-inch sized thing that's basically just an art product, like a fancy folder that can also fit into your record collection. When you open it up it's got each song with its artwork and lyrics but not an actual CD or vinyl. I'm excited to see how that goes because the music industry can be pretty wasteful when it comes to physical product and very expensive, and just with everything that's happening in the world right now with supply chains breaking down and labels struggling to get vinyl pressed, everything getting delayed. This is a bit of a different approach, so I'm curious to see how people react towards it I guess.

Definitely, that does sound intriguing and unique. It's just so great seeing so many people get behind this new venture that you're going on right now, and seeing people all over the world share your music and spread the word. I think most people know you both from previous things you've done and that's enough to get them on board with this new project, so congratulations.

Yeah it's been really rewarding man and hopefully it continues.

The surprise EP titled ‘For You Will Never Find Peace Within Your Quiet’ is available as of Friday 29th on streaming services and Bandcamp.

Listen to the single "Will Never" below:

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