Coming from the dreary neighborhoods of Birmingham, England, Outlander employs a hazy mix of post-rock, drone doom and shoegaze that seeks to capture the mood created by the economic depression and industrial expanse of their surroundings. After parting ways with their singer in 2014 they transitioned from drawn-out post-hardcore arrangements to an even more expansive instrumental sound.
On the surface their music produces a gloomy quality, but upon deeper inspection there are melodic through lines that offer glimmers of hope forcing their way through the fog. They released a 2-song EP in late October of 2016 and are now back at it with their newest EP Downtime b/w Plans, released this past September. With two great releases under their belt, we thought it time to shine our Spotlight on Outlander.
Outlander is a four piece from Birmingham, England combining elements drawn from the post-rock blueprint laid out by Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor with aspects of the moody indie rock championed by Low and Codeine, resulting in sparse, starkly drawn out instrumentals. The band has recently released their second EP Downtime b/w Plans for free or pay what you want download and is looking to play wherever and whenever they can around the UK and beyond.
Joe House – Guitar
Dan Jones – Bass
Jack Davis – Drums
Take Turns b/w I’ll Get Mine Too, 2016
“Outlander most clearly model Show Me the Body’s approach to sound manipulation, even if the heavier punk stylings of History of Sex more closely align with Show Me the Body’s aggression. Coming across as a shoegaze-heavy Mogwai, Outlander made a compelling case for the beauty of overwrought instrumental rock.”
– Loose Lips
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Tell us a bit about the band’s background.
We’ve been around for a few years under a couple of different names/line-ups but I guess you can trace this version of the band back to late 2015 when a project we were playing in sort of came to a halt. This version of the band emerged from that and we got into a cycle of writing music then scrapping it and writing better music while we were trying to find a vocalist to tie it all off and add that final layer. After about 7 months of working on it and experimenting with a few guys we got pretty much nowhere and decided that we’d just start playing some shows as we were for the time being. We were pretty well-rehearsed but I think at the time the songs were pretty obviously not finished. During this time we wrote our first EP and we’d made the conscious decision by then to just write whatever ended up coming out between the four of us with nothing else in mind and it turned out pretty well (we think). So we did it again (picking up Ian on guitar somewhere in-between) and those two releases ended up being Take Turns b/w I’ll Get Mine Too and Downtime b/w Plans.
What are some musical influences?
There are the obvious ones – bands like Godspeed and TWDY, who I’d consider to be formative influences. I guess most people probably pick up on that based on how our band is structured, but aside from those guys I don’t think any of us are that huge on post-rock as music listeners. I think a lot of that stuff can be pretty formulaic, there are a ton of great bands in the genre, but it’s easy to fall into a hole and not really have an individual sound there – something we’re conscious of about ourselves for sure. Shoegazing bands are another unavoidable one, a lot of our guitar stuff is pretty heavily influenced by bands like My Bloody Valentine, Swirlies and the like. I think the important one is the mood of it all though, which definitely comes from bands like Slint, Duster, early Low and even current bands like Cloakroom and Planning for Burial.
Can you talk a bit about how you have developed your sound, which could be described as a blend of both post-rock, drone doom and shoegaze?
We’re from the same place as Jesu, maybe that’s it. Nah, I guess we’ve always like the darker elements of all the stuff we’re influenced by and I think that’s naturally come through more and more as we’ve become better musicians and more articulate with our instruments. There are definitely elements of influence creeping in from the social climate of our immediate surroundings too. There’s a hopelessness that punctuates life as a young adult in the UK at the moment due to a number of factors like years of austerity, the looming cloud of Brexit and an incredibly obvious wealth division, but I’m sure a lot of that is the same elsewhere. I guess playing loads of dead shows in empty rooms has helped us too, there isn’t any weight of expectation – I can count our fans on my fingers and that’s always meant we can do whatever we want. Maybe it’s also something of a reaction to more cinematic bands making similar music to us too, we’ve always considered ourselves something of antithesis to post-rock bands doing that whole cathartic, fist in the air uplifting quiet to loud thing.
Is there a strong scene for your brand of music in Birmingham?
Not really but I think that’s probably helped us. We’re usually something of an oddity on a line-up but I think that helps us reach people that otherwise might not have come across our little niche. I love playing mixed bill shows and getting a weird reaction from people, or having guys that probably aren’t familiar what we’re doing come up to us and tell us how much they enjoyed our set. That’s not to say there aren’t some great bands in the area – we get to play with a ton of guys we absolutely love.
Do you have any interesting stories to share from your time as a band?
Occasionally we put on low-key party/show type things in our rehearsal space which is literally the size of someone’s bedroom. They’re always a sick way to celebrate a couple of cool local bands and drink a lot of beer and last time we did one we took a donation tin around and were able to raise a few hundred pounds for our local homeless outreach. That was pretty sick. We’re also pretty sure our friend Sam’s studio is haunted. Whenever we do a record we go there for the weekend and stay there and there’s all this weird banging at night. He also showed us this footage of a weird orb thing floating around his control room. We also played in our friend’s attic earlier this year, which was pretty weird – if anyone else has a house show we can play please get at us, they’re class.
What are some goals for the band in the coming year?
We’ll definitely get back in the studio to do a new record and we’d love to do a tour – it’s always been something of a milestone in our minds so it’d be great to actually get out and do it. Other than that I think we’re pretty content to keep doing what we’re doing, playing whatever shows we can get around the UK and getting our music out there to as many people as possible.