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BANKS ARCADE // Joshua O’Donnell Chats Future Lovers, Touring And More

Banks Arcade are here to make history. In their short time together, they’ve released a stack of genre-bending tunes. 

MORE: BRING ME THE HORIZON: Damned If They Go Back // SUNK LOTO: No More Anxiety REVIEWS: THORNHILL: Heroine // ALEXISONFIRE: Otherness // GREY DAZE: The Phoenix // STAND ATLANTIC: F.E.A.R // DUNE RATS: Real Rare Whale  // BANKS ARCADE: Future Lovers

And now, they’re ready to make their biggest statement yet with Future Lovers.

Frontman Joshua O’Donnell ran us through what inspired the debut record, the band’s creative process and more. Read on.

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Hysteria: We heard you returned to New Zealand to create Future Lovers. Tell us about how that helped you and why it was important?

Joshua: The process was unique. The world was going through really tough and uncertain times, and it forced us to go back to New Zealand and our original homes. While we were there, we had a space and environment where all these pressures didn’t exist. We didn’t have the pressure to create something specific. The uncertainty became a good thing.

It gave us the space to collate our different inspirations and interests and express them in a way that I don’t think we would’ve been able to if we had been in Australia. The process was difficult, but I think things like that happen for a reason, and we’re happy with how it all came out in the end.

So how’d you all come together to create – did you have roles, or was it collaborative? We know you all have different musical backgrounds, so how did that shape things?

Before this album, we’d had some lineup changes. Jason (Meadows, guitar) and I are the band’s longest-standing members. For this record, the creative process was driven by me, and then the other guys would come in and have their various parts.

So I’d write a song, send it to the guys and then everyone would go in. We’ve grown as writers, but this process was us learning how to write together. It was a process of self-discovery and finding out what works best for us.

Even now, we were just over in the UK, and we’ve recorded our next project. It won’t come out until further into the future, but we’ve gone through that process, and you can see what we’ve learned. We’ve learnt so much about each other, how to communicate and use each other’s skills best.  James (Feekes, Drums) has started producing and writing more, and I think the process of the album drove him to that.

For me, writing the songs and knowing that I had a supportive team around me that was completely ok with decisions that others might think were crazy gave me a lot of freedom. In this band, I feel I have no boundaries as a writer. That I can do anything, and they’d support it and help mould it. When we’ve gone to do more recording now, it’s almost been less fun and explorative, but it’s because we know what we want and what limitations to put on things. This album was very formative to the band and taught us so much.

When you put your goals out so clearly to the world, there’s a lot of pressure that follows.
[ Joshua O’Donnell, Banks Arcade ]

Lyrically, where did you find your inspiration?

When I wrote this album, I aimed to capture a feeling instead of just writing stand-alone lyrics. I know some writers will almost write poetry, and it’s amazing, but that wasn’t my intention for Future Lovers.

I took inspiration from the hip-hop artists that I like. Often, if you read their lyrics, they don’t make sense, but you get the feeling they’re trying to express. I wanted to sit between that and really verbose, poetic music. A lot of the lyrics on the album sum up the journey that we’re on. It’s an anecdotal story about trying to make it and the struggles that come with it – the highs and lows of this whole journey.

When you put your goals out so clearly to the world, there’s a lot of pressure that follows. There are a lot of struggles people in the creative industry go through – mentally, in their relationships and with their perception of themselves and different anxieties. When I first started writing, I saw Future Lovers as a concept album. Like I was telling the story of someone else and writing from their perspective in all the songs. Then I realised it was about me (laughs). When that switch happened, I realised how personal some of the tracks were lyrically. As a writer, it’s been cool to do that. It’s taken a long time to get to the point where what’s coming out of the songs is what I feel as opposed to just doing something that sounds cool. It’s an amazing place to be creatively.

What struck us about the LP is how varied it is, so if you had to distil your sound into a few words, what would they be?

This is a hard one for me. I just call us modern heavy music. I feel that’s all we’re trying to do. Make heavy music, but with all the other influences we like.

I want to be the heaviest metal band on one song and the softest on another. I just want to do all those different things. And I don’t think a Banks Arcade fan would ever be shocked by one of those shifts.

You recently played Download; that must’ve been incredible. Tell us about it!

It was very surreal. The crowd was amazing, and the people were so kind. It was awesome to go to a place where we knew no one and be looked after the way we were. We made so many friends.

In a sense, we were there as punters too. We were camping and in with the crowd. We were meeting people, having drinks with them and handing out cards. We were experiencing the festival as if we’d gone over just to watch it. It just so happened we got to play it.

By the time we played, we’d already been at the festival for like three days. We were looking out to the crowd, seeing these friends we’d made and people we’d met, and it felt like the biggest show we’d played in our lives but also a local show because it had those friends. We felt like we were in a place we’d always tried to get to. And to be on the same bill as some of the other bands was insane. It was a crazy experience. We’re glad Harlen (Allen-Jones, bass) didn’t die when he decided to backflip off the PA monitors with his bass in hand – that definitely got our hearts racing.

All up though, it all came together well. And it was awesome to share the experience with the fans we had there.

Purchase and stream here.

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