Millions of gamers across the globe will be shooting to a Western Sydney soundtrack with ARIA award winning metal outfit Northlane delivering a new theme song for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.
The track dropped on Friday as the fresh season of the R6 Oceanic Nationals begins.
Esports have become increasingly popular over the past few years with millions tuning in around the globe on popular streaming sites like Twitch, which is where all the action can be seen here.
The new Rainbow Six Siege Oceanic Nationals 2021 will commence on March 21 and will feature eight teams with five on each side competing for a total prize pool of $100,000, and $25,000 awarded in each round of the finals series.
The new song is called Clockwork and explores in lyrical concepts the pressures and anxieties felt by vocalist Marcus Bridge as Northlane jumped back into writing music again after a challenging year.
Bridge and the band’s guitarist and manager Josh Smith spoke to 7NEWS.com.au about the new single and the where Northlane is at creatively, heading into their next era.
“The deal with Ubisoft is so they can exclusively use the song for the Oceanic Rainbow Six Siege league this year,” Josh says.
“We knew that it was such an awesome chance to cross our music into a world that I think it suits where it’s heading at the moment with a more futuristic electronic sound – it suits that escaping of reality vibe.
“It was a little daunting trying to make sure that you’re writing something that would make sense for this collaboration.”
The band got word of this opportunity with Ubisoft at the end of last year and began preparing to craft a song that would fit well in the context of the gaming world without being too heavy throughout.
“It parallels the game quite well.. I wanted to make sure that the links were there and it wasn’t too separated from the game,” Marcus says.
The song opens with Marcus singing against a synthesiser’s dystopian melody before moving in a verse containing a barrage of energy and then falling into a sing-along chorus sure to be a crowd favourite.
“We had some instrumentals floating around but the vocals and lyrics take quite a bit of time… We sent a few ideas to Ubisoft to see what they liked and from there we tried to build on some of those ideas to suit this world,” Marcus recalls.
“It’s been a really weird year and finally putting some music out and getting positive feedback and seeing that people are still hanging around for us is good to see.”
Northlane are an alternative metal band formed in Sydney’s western suburbs in 2008 and have since grown as force to be reckoned with, across Australia and on the international touring scene.
Their 2019 album Alien was a critically acclaimed commercial smash hit, reaching No.3 on the ARIA charts.
Northlane have always been a band with a unique approach to their marketing and distribution of content, maximising their returns on records by releasing deluxe editions with instrumentals of their songs and hidden gems or covers.
In February they released a five-track EP that contained remixes by various electronic artists and a reworking of an old song by their guitarist and main songwriter Jon Deily.
“I’m coming up on 13 years working in the music industry and in that time I’ve seen a complete change in how music is being consumed,” Josh says.
“I know the streaming revenue isn’t comparable to the ‘80s but something to consider is if you’re a band like us that is about to release their sixth studio album with other releases in between.. It’s a lot of material for people to go back and listen to and every time they do you get paid.”
Not only are Northlane pushing the envelope sonically, they are also rewriting the script on how alternative bands get their music out to the world.
They released a deluxe version of their last album Alien in conjunction with an exclusive wine range and have also delivered limited pressings of vinyl records, among other marketing innovations.
“I would encourage artists to explore other means that they have to release and monetise their music,” Josh says.
“There’s bands that even do their own coffee… I think that casting the net nice and wide is a good idea.
“It’s hard to tell how people are feeling about new music when you’re stuck at home.. I’m excited to get back into the real world and start playing some shows.”
That will finally be happening in just a couple of months as Northlane headline the Full Tilt festival in Brisbane and Melbourne across June and July, joined by other heavy hitters from Australia such as Hands Like Houses, In Hearts Wake and Alpha Wolf, who all represent different cornerstones of the domestic alternative music scene.
“(Our music) has become a lot of different things as time goes on.. It’s heavy but then also very danceable,” Marcus says.
If you want to see what a Northlane live show is like, the band recorded a live show from their Alien Australian tour show before the storm of COVID-19 swept away concerts.
The show was filmed in October, 2019 but was live streamed in August last year, with eight pay-for-view sessions catered to various time zones.
The band then uploaded the hour-long masterclass of live performance in February of this year, you can check out Northlane Live at the Roundhouse in the YouTube video below.
There is a lot to look forward to when Northlane grace the stage later this year but the idea of performing seems to be a little daunting to the band.
“I’ve had nightmares where I forget how to play guitar onstage,” Josh recalls.
“I had to relearn the lyrics and remember how to not be awkward on stage – which took me a while to do when I first joined the band” adds Marcus.
After 63 shows across 17 countries for one full album touring cycle, it’s humbling to see that the guys still get nervous before hitting the stage.
“We look confident when we’re on stage and we’re confident as people, but on the inside there is always an internal breakdown happening, right before we get up there it’s still terrifying.. I’m sure that once we finally get back up there we’ll be back to where we were,” Josh recalls.
“I’ve been watching a lot of concerts and I think I’m most excited seeing people enjoying music again,” Marcus says.
Marcus joined the band after original vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes departed in 2014.
They held public tryouts and were accepting auditions from people all around the globe – but the humble Northlane fan with both angelic and demonic vocal cords from Sydney took the spot.
Fitipaldes’s last record with the band was their breakout album Singularity which was critically acclaimed and earned them a well-deserved spot among Australia’s finest heavy metal exports.
Not long after Marcus’ arrival, Northlane released Node, a much more progressive sounding record that shied away from a more traditional metal sound.
Their next record Mesmer further pushed their sound further with a particular focus on including electronic elements into their music.
But about the same time, various issues and tensions rose in and around the band and their future was uncertain.
They regrouped to write their album Alien in which Marcus opened up about experiences he went through during his upbringing.
With cathartic lyrics exploring these themes paired with visceral instrumentals from low-tuned guitars and esoteric electronic elements, Alien truly resonated with fans.
It delivered Northlane their highest selling release and a mostly sold-out world tour.
The record has moments sounding like a rave from a dissonant future, with intense moments of aggression and a big finish with a majestic ballad featuring a hidden saxophone solo in the song Sleepless.
Despite the success of the fifth album and revival of Northlane, opening up on such a deep level brought on a new set of emotions for frontman Marcus.
It all took its toll and a documentary released last year follows a band on the brink of collapse as they fought their way through to create their most successful album to date.
“It opened up even more things for me, it’s like opening a can of worms,” Marcus recalls.
“It’s been kind of good to spend some time at home and spend some time with myself and focus on being positive.”
Although it was a struggle to create, the success of Alien has given the band a lot of breathing room to further experiment.
“We’re in a completely different place as creatives, we have a lot of different ideas and are excited to be trying new things,” Marcus says.
“We aren’t as scared to do something a bit weirder than what we would’ve done previously.”
Like every other artist, 2020 was a tough year for Northlane as they watched touring plans wash away with no clear end in sight.
“The last year has been an absolute nightmare for every musician in the world.. Being an artist manager seeing first-hand what it has done to a lot of bands,” Josh says.
“I think we are fortunate that we’re able to keep food on the table and pay rent which is not the same situation for a lot of other Aussie bands.”
While Northlane were lucky to have survived the global pandemic, they do spare a thought for smaller artists who didn’t make it through.
“Especially for a few that were on the up when COVID-19 kicked off, it will definitely affect their careers long term”.
“I’m just counting our blessings that we were able to turn this band around before the world ended.”
With most of the band having relocated to Melbourne, the process of writing and recording the song was difficult due to COVID restrictions.
“We didn’t really see each other while trying to put this song together.. We barely got the chance to spend time together and write in a room,” Marcus recalls.
“When you’re seeing each other every moment of the day on the road for eight months out of the year it’s easy to see if someone is into your ideas.
“We were given an amazing opportunity but with that there was a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to follow up Alien as best we could, but do something really cool in a different medium.”
These new challenges that presented to the band has given them all time to each perfect their own part of the process and back themselves.
“I think the time apart from each other has taught us to trust our own ideas and go with with it,” Marcus says.
But while the overwhelming majority of fans are embracing the new sounds, some purists may turn away from it.
But it’s not about playing for the gallery for Northlane. That was a lesson Marcus learned when he hit breaking point while on tour.
“I was going through a bit of family-related stuff and realised that there is not enough time to be worried about whether you’re doing the right thing, the only people I’m worried about are the people in my band.
“As long as our ideas blend together then nothing else really matters, which has been liberating as we write our next album.
“Life’s too short to be worrying about someone who’s going to listen to your band for 30 seconds and then turn it off.”
So Northlane will never stop taking risks.
“Everything we’ve put out has been risky or weird to some degree, we’ve just been lucky that they’ve resonated with people at different times.
“Some people spit on some of our albums at first and then when they revisit them it becomes their favourite album,” Marcus says.
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