Steven Battle is a man who loves creating music; the ex-LostAlone frontman has spent the past year throwing himself into his debut solo record (save for the occasional coffee morning). Today sees ‘Exit Brain Left’ finally land in all its glory.
Hey Steven, what prompted you to start creating music solo?
I’ve been pretty relentless since the age of 11 when football was exchanged for music. Since then writing has just become my reason to be. So a more direct answer to this question would be the following. As soon as the decision was made to end the band a feeling of directionless fear overcame me. I booked a cheap flight to Geneva then took the train by the lake to Montreux (a trip I’ve now managed to do almost twenty times since 2008) and began what became this record. Many more trips alone either walking cities or sitting looking at mountains followed over this past year.
How have you found it so far? Is there anything you’re especially enjoying?
The main thing really is the lack of business interests to deal with. I LOVE this! The thing I miss is the camaraderie of getting in the bus and heading off on tour with the guys. You band mates and crew become a real family.
Do you still see the other guys from LostAlone?
Yes all the time. We talk most days. Myself and Alan have “Steven & Alan’s vinyl Saturday” once a month where we sit in my front room (where no modern technology is allowed) and we listen to records and drink coffee / eat biscuits (no chocolate for me – as of writing I’m 27 weeks choc clean) and me and Mark go back so far that even when we don’t see each other we just know that we’re okay, he has a brilliant job working on Aston Martin cars now so I’m really happy for him.
Where did you look for inspiration for ‘Exit Brain Left’?
I’m a relentless writer so songs were always being stockpiled for the record. I did however choose to make this record in a new way for me. I scheduled twelve individual weeks across 2015 with Dan Weller for recording and then took a trip the week before each recording week with the goal of writing the song which would be recorded the following week. So other than Nine Miles of Light” and “the Jump” this is how I made the record. It’s fantastic to be able to associate a song with a specific week / trip.
Was there a key moment when you felt the album was coming together?
I very clearly remember sitting in the kitchen of a beautiful pink house in Hastings and myself and Dan Weller (producer) listening back to the song ‘Powers Of Denial’. It was a huge moment for me. Up until that point it was all in my head, I knew what I wanted to sound like but when I heard that song in its rough mix form I realised that I could make a record which would sound completely as I wanted and not just LostAlone part two.
What challenges did you need to overcome making the album independently?
After experiencing some incredible highs and extreme low points signed to both a major and then an independent label the decision to do everything myself was hugely liberating. A major part of being able to do the has been moving into writing songs / music for other artists / films. So I feel really proud that my record is funded by my music.
Do any of the songs on the album particularly mean a lot to you?
‘Nine Miles of Light’ – Every time I hear or play it in rehearsal I’m transported back to the most incredible therapeutic week of my life. I spent some time alone in Berlin and accidentally managed to be in the city during the 25th anniversary of the Wall coming down. I wrote the song walking the nine miles of illuminated wall they had reconstructed and then watched the illuminated balls float away into the night to the soundtrack of the Berlin state orchestra playing Beethoven’s ninth symphony. Being on the street with a million people that night was a real moment for me, so much emotion.
Are you nervous about playing live solo for the first time?
YES! It’s a very different animal to LostAlone with much more going on technology wise. My only fear is something going wrong that I can’t control. I did an acoustic set recently to benefit a studio back in my home town and so that was a good way to dip back into being on stage. I think it went okay although I’d estimate it was 75% me talking about the songs and 25% actually playing.
How are you preparing for the stage?
I’m very prepared. I put together a band of friends back in April and we’ve been working solid since then, they’re all in other great bands and we’ve built up a great feel. They can all play every instrument better than most people play one and also between them I have an electrician, pro tools engineer and a guy who converted an old barn into an incredible house, so all bases covered.
What are you most looking forward to about releasing this new album?
I’ve really mixed feelings. Part of me feels sad that it will no longer be my thing, once it’s out that’s it it’s done for me and belongs to the listener. However I am really excited to get on recording my next record which I have written and ready to go. I really hope the people listen to it on headphones in the dark and feel like they’re entering a world rather than just hearing music.
Taken from the November issue of Upset. Steven Battelle’s album ‘Exit Brain Left’ is out now.