It’s been a lovely little story so far, and if you’ve been following us on Twitter you can’t have missed it. Hoping for a couple of listeners, Manchester duo Jack and Adam set up a Twitter account and started throwing a few Tweets into the world. Just a few weeks later and they’re excelling all their expectations, making fans in high places, getting their music shared by Begbie from Trainspotting, and pretty much killing it every time they turn a corner. Lossline have taken off in ways they definitely didn’t predict.
Fran thought he better talk to them before they get too big for Bastards like us:
Fran: So you guys have been friends for a long time, right? But you only really got together as Lossline about halfway through lockdown 1. What was it that led to you getting together and starting to make music? How did that happen?
Jack: Well Adam wrote a song and sent it over… Actually, before that I’d bought myself a piano and decided to reteach myself just for something to do during lockdown and then when Adam sent the song over I thought it sounded really good, so I just asked if I could try and put a bit of piano to it. And then I sent it back to Adam and we just started working on it from there.
Adam: Yeah. And before that I played a gig back in 2019 and Jack and his partner Lucy came. It was really funny because Jack said ‘some of your songs would sound really good with drums’ and I said ‘yeah, I just don’t know anyone that plays them’ and Jack said ‘I play drums.’ I mean, I’d known him for about seven years and I just had no idea. We’d just never spoken about it.
And then I guess life just gets in the way and you just never get together and do it. Then suddenly everything just stopped and it just kind of happened I guess…
F: Sounds to me like Jack has been hinting for years and you’ve finally let him in during lockdown…
A: Ha ha – yeah, he’s been trying to woo me. But no – it just started as a hobby for us really.
J: Yeah. And I hadn’t written a song in about 8 or 9 years and after putting the piano on his song I just thought I would try and write one and send it back to Adam. And then the floodgates kind of just opened.
I think it fell in line with a lot of things. I’d stopped drinking and all that and I just had this weird energy that got focused towards writing music.
F: So you’d both written songs and made music separately but you’d never written anything together before?
J: Yeah, we never had.
A: I think that has been a really key thing in why this has worked, too. Because when you’re just writing on your own it is so easy to give up on things and just think they’re shit, but when you send it to a mate and they say ‘mate, this is a banger’ you think about it more and decide to work on it more. I think you jimmy each other along and keep each other going and the enthusiasm stays because you’re finding things about each other’s writing that you like.
I also found that I got more out of working on the songs that Jack had written because I felt more like I was allowed to like them – they weren’t really my songs. So it’s been really good to collaborate like that – it just gives you confidence I think.
F: Okay, great. So obviously you’ve touched on this a little bit – but can you tell me a bit more about what the writing and recording process has been like during what’s been happening over the last year?
J: I think the first couple of songs we wrote didn’t even make the album in the end – but they were entirely back and forth over email. And then Adam’s mate Daf – who was in an amazing band called Dancers – he’s really into his production so we sent a few to him and he started doing some production on them.
We just kept sending these songs back and forth and adding things to them, adding layers. I think that’s mostly how we formed the songs – and I think that’s why most of them are pretty multi-layered.
A: There was a small amount of time when you were allowed in each other’s houses, too – so we did a very small amount of that. Which was good. And I think pretty much everything that we did in person ended up being on the album. But sending stuff back and forth was really fun because I think you can just experiment more and try weird things that might not work. And having Daf involved was really good because he was kind of an independent adjudicator – so we’d send stuff to him and he’d say what worked and what didn’t. It was a really good process.
J: I think maybe once the pandemic is over we’ll still want to keep a mix of writing on our own and sending stuff between us over email and doing some writing together in person. I think when you write something by yourself it gives it chance to become something without there being too much pressure.
But we’ve been working on some new things already and we’re wanting a much more live sound. A couple of Adam’s mates have decided that they’d really like to join the band now – so it would be good to get together in a room.
A: Yeah, that was really nice. I messaged them thinking I was going to be selling it to them and they were like ‘can we please be in your band?’
Lossline Live https://t.co/cKoeBmQHfm
— Lossline (@losslines) March 27, 2021
F: Lovely – that’s what you want to hear. Well while we’re talking about your friends, I think there’s a really interesting line in your Spotify bio where you say that you didn’t know you’d written an album until your friend told you. So what’s the story there?
A: Ha ha – yeah, I mean that’s pretty much the whole story. It was Daf actually – I don’t really remember what we were talking about but he just said ‘guys, you’ve written an album and it’s really good.’ And we just said ‘have we?’
But then we just thought ‘shit – we have’, and we had to start deciding what the content was going to be.
J: I think we’d just been sending everything we wrote to him and we weren’t thinking of it as an album at the time, so it took him to tell us that it was for us to see it. And there were also a lot of shit songs that we sent him – and he was really honest about that, too!
F: So in your heads you weren’t writing to create an album – you were just kind of doing something to get through lockdown?
A: Yeah, one of the first things we said to each other was that we weren’t releasing these songs and that they were only demos. That we were going to get in a studio later. And then obviously it didn’t happen like that…
F: Maybe that took some of the pressure off in a way, though. Maybe if you aren’t thinking about other people’s opinions then that makes better songs in some respect…
J: I think so, yeah. And I think some of the choices we made – definitely some of the lyrics I wrote – we might not have gone with if we thought people were going to hear the songs. There are some pretty dark lyrics about drinking and stuff and I sometimes wonder if I really want people to think these things about me. But then I think it works on the album.
And some of the musical choices – like some of the tracks just ending with these huge, distorted, horrible, discordant sounds – we probably wouldn’t have done that if we’d known.
A: Yeah, I completely agree.
F: And I’d imagine that those lyrics that did make it, and the darkness in some of them, is similar to some of the bands you love, right? And that’s why you love them. So maybe that’s why you’re seeing the great reaction you’re seeing…
A: Yeah, I genuinely think that that has a massive role. I never thought that anyone would listen to those songs or listen to the content and I think that people have reacted to the honesty that has ended up in the songs because of that. And from my point of view, I never would have written some of the songs that I did if I’d have thought that my mum would hear them.
F: What’s your mum had to say?
A: She loves it. She thinks I’m cool.
J: It’s not his mum who had the best reaction, though – you should hear what his granddad had to say…
A: Ha ha, yeah. So he’s a Geordie and he called me the other day and left a voicemail that was just amazing – he was just shouting with excitement in his Geordie accent saying ‘ahh, it’s the best thing – the guitars, man’ – it was just amazing.
F: Brilliant. That kind of leads on to my next question, too – I just wanted to ask about the reaction you’ve had. Which has been amazing. How has that felt? And what were some of the highlights?
J: Well it’s been way, way more than we expected. We put out ‘Streetlights’ as our first single and that got picked up pretty quickly and got put onto a playlist that’s trying to get songs to get a thousand plays. And we’ve had people saying ‘ooh, I got goosebumps listening to that’ and ‘the hairs stood up on the back of my neck’ – and that’s just ridiculous. I didn’t think people would be saying anything like that.
A: One of the biggest things for me was when the lead singer of one of my favourite bands from my hometown, a band I loved as a teenager, got in touch and said it was the best thing they’d heard in ages. Fifteen-year-old me was thinking ‘fucking yes!’ It’s a band called Gintis who are just great – so that was an amazing feeling.
But the thing that was astonishing to me was when people started buying it on Bandcamp. Obviously you can get it for free so the fact that people were willing to pay for it just meant so much. It was a really unusual, lovely feeling.
J: We found out that an American radio station called From The Holler is going to be putting out an LP, a proper vinyl, of artists they really love and we’ve made it on to that. Which is just unbelievable.
A: That’s just so exciting. And again, that’s just someone from Twitter – they could have chosen anyone and they chose us. So that’s just a lovely feeling.
J: And there was the time me and Lucy heard ‘Streetlights’ on the radio for the first time, too. The weirdest thing was hearing the song when I hadn’t pressed play – it was just coming through the speakers when people were talking about music. It was surreal. But really cool. I think I couldn’t really process that I was hearing us on the radio so I just carried on doing my jigsaw while standing up.
A: I was hoovering when I was listening to it. It was the best hoover of my life.
F: Amazing. Okay. So you’ve said you’re already starting to write some new stuff. Have you got plans for what’s next? Is there more music in the works? Any plans for shows?
A: So we’re not going to release it… that’s what we’ll probably say again.
But yeah, we’ve got a gig booked in in Manchester in October supporting a friend of mine so fingers crossed that will happen. I should really know the date but I can’t remember. And then we’ll just see how that pans out. But I think the priority now will be getting together with the others and working out how we’re going to play these songs live.
J: I think the sound will have to change a bit. With only having four of us we can’t have the same amount of layers so it will be quite interesting to see how a more live sound works out for us.
A: The idea of playing shows feels quite weird though. Because even though it doesn’t deal with it directly, it feels like quite a lockdowny album – you can feel that the people who had been writing that album had been locked away somewhere ruminating on their lives. So it will be odd taking that out into the world and playing it to a room full of people.
J: I’m absolutely terrified to be honest with you. I’ve only ever really played a couple of open mics in London after quite a lot to drink – and then some gigs before that as a drummer. So being at the front is going to be scary.
F: I can’t help thinking a bit about how this must be for you two doing all this together after knowing each other for so long. Can you tell me a bit more about how that’s been, interacting in this new way through your music?
A: Well there’s a funny story about that. With the song ‘Alice’. I never really broached this with Jack but I felt quite uncomfortable about it – I kept thinking that his partner Lucy must really hate that song because he was basically writing about being in love with his ex. And at some point he asked if I wanted to sing on it and I said no – I told him it just seemed so personal and I didn’t think it was right. And he just said ‘it’s not a real story.’ And I just thought ‘thank god’ – I’d been feeling really awkward about that one.
But I think, from my point of view, I remember thinking about halfway through that I’d just learnt so much about Jack and I just felt that even if nothing else happens then our friendship has definitely got closer through the process. You just learn about how the other person thinks. And we were just constantly talking – more than with anyone else, so you get to see how they think and all that. For me, that’s the most positive thing that has come out of all this – just sharing something with a friend and creating a little world. And then just kind of living in it.
F: Sounds perfect. So what about some of your influences, then – I think I can hear a few but I’d love to hear your thoughts…
J: Well I think you’ll definitely hear some The National influence on some of the bigger songs, and we’re both big Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes fans. And then for some of the more story based songs I had people like Leonard Cohen in my head – just trying to do a song a tenth as good as any of his.
At one point my dad said that we were like Coldplay but with better lyrics – I think there was a compliment in there, but I’ll just strip away the Coldplay part.
F: Is he a Coldplay fan?
J: No. Not really. I don’t know if he was having a go…
A: For me it’s much the same as Jack. I love The National and Conor Oberst, but also Elliot Smith and some more country stuff like Neil Young and John Prine. But to be honest, when I was writing, I tried to not have anyone in mind. I think in the past I have written with a particular band or singer in mind, or a particular type of music or a person who might like it, but this time I wasn’t thinking of anyone and I think that’s worked really well for me. It’s just what it is.
F: Yeah, that’s interesting – I think it’s that thing of are you being influenced by people or are you being derivative and I think in your case you can tell that you listen to these artists that you’re talking about but it doesn’t sound like a rip off of any of them.
And what about any music you’ve been listening to recently? What’s been getting you through the many lockdowns?
J: I really like the Adrienne Lenker album Songs and Instrumentals – I heard it once on Spotify and immediately ordered it on vinyl. That’s incredible. And there’s the last Nilufer Yanya album if I want something more upbeat – that’s about as upbeat as my listening goes.
A: I’ve been listening to a load of playlists and trying to widen my horizons a bit – some world music. Ethiopian Jazz, which is fucking mental but great. But really it’s been a year when comforting music has been essential and songs you know well have been quite nice. But obviously there was the Bright Eyes album this year which was great. Oh, and Christian Lee Hutson – I think that album is incredible.
F: It is – that record just arrived on my doorstep a couple of days ago…
A: It’s a stupendously good record – and he’s an incredible guitarist. I’m very jealous. And I think I saw him supporting Better Oblivion Community Center before I knew him and I didn’t really watch, so I wish I could go back and pay attention to that one.
J: Oh, and can I add one more? I first heard this through one of Tim Burgess’s Listening Parties – the Anna B Savage album. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it. It’s amazing.
F: It is indeed – such a good album. Listen to the Keeley Forsyth album from last year if you like that one…
So I only have one more question for you – and I like to throw in a little challenge at the end. So how would each of you describe the sound of your album in a single sentence?
A: Hmmmm – it might have to be a long sentence. I’ve got an answer but I might have to cheat a little bit, but it’s something I have been thinking about a lot. It feels to me like an album that is yearning for a world that doesn’t exist and although it’s sad in places I think there are parts – like the line Jack wrote in ‘Alice’ that says something like ‘you leave me breathless at bus windows’ – when it is really yearning for a world where you can just bump into someone who leaves you breathless. I’ve definitely gone over a sentence now but I think it’s an odd thing because there’s a juxtaposition between it being songs about someone’s internal life, but it feels like it’s reaching out as well. That’s what I think anyway – if that makes any sense.
J: I’m trying to sum it up – I think it sounds like two men going through therapy in their bedrooms.
Right everyone – if you haven’t heard Lossline yet, it’s time to give them a listen. Get their album Fading Affect Bias in your ears immediately.
Interview by Fran Slater.