Last month, we shared new project R U N with you, courtesy of the project’s debut single “For You”. More is revealed today from the Lochlan Watt and Mike Deslandes collaboration, with the release of “Will Never”. We recently spoke with Lochlan about the song and the project in general, and how his seizure, subsequent discovery of a brain tumour, and eventual cancer diagnosis impacted the creation of the track.
To give some background, even though R U N is brand new, Lochlan and Mike’s partnership in music is 10 years in the making. The two met when Lochlan had travelled to Adelaide with his band at the time, Ironhide. Coincidentally, a friend from Brisbane had recommended Mike’s studio. Mike didn’t work directly on the Ironhide record, but was present nonetheless.
Lochlan told me of the final day of vocal tracking and how he had been trying to get a particular vocal part completed and that it just wasn’t working out. He says “Mike popped his head into the studio and was like ‘Why don’t you try singing it like THIS way, like [sings] “Aaah” instead of what you were going for?’, and he just all of a sudden revolutionised the part. The part I was struggling for half an hour to get, he just came in and said one thing that made me go “Oh!”. It just completely fixed it and elevated it.”
This experience inspired Lochlan to seek him out for future work, such as mixing for another of his bands; Nuclear Summer. Lochlan similarly supported Mike’s bands with booking shows, and their bands would play gigs together. Mike also happened to be recording the Colossvs album, which was a band that Lochlan had joined by chance. “So there he was again. And from there I also recorded a few auditions for other bands, some unsuccessful, others, you know, Thy Art Is Murder, and just demos and stuff of trying to get new stuff off the ground that never eventuated.”
To Lochlan, Mike was “The dude that I wanted to make music with,” but he was also very busy. It just so happened that the stars aligned for a collaboration. Mike had spoken with Lochlan about wanting to get more into production by way of songwriting; keen to help build projects from the ground up, as opposed to just recording. And concurrently, Lochlan was struggling to find the right people for the project he had in mind, so he decided to try Mike. “I was like ‘Yo, if I just employ you as a producer, do you want to help me write some songs?’ And he was like ‘Yep, alright, cool. Let’s do it!’. And from there it’s just kind of snowballed.” Lochlan had had expectations of just being helped by Mike, but instead he quickly became a significant part of the project, with a 50-50 dynamic naturally establishing between them.
“I love both of these styles. Why can’t I find a band that puts them together? That’s that. I want to make that band.” ~ Lochlan Watt
The project that Lochlan had in mind was something very specific based on genre. His own music tastes led to him spotting a gap; where he knew that there was a kind of sound in music that he wanted to hear but that no one seemed to be making. He says “I always saw this middle ground between the melodic progressive post-black metal sound and metalcore that was kind of completely unoccupied. It made no sense to me. It *does* make sense when you look at it in terms of scene, identity, people establishing what the band belongs to and what area it’s in, but sonically, I was like ‘There is so much similarity to the sonic tone and emotional tone of these bands, and I love both of these styles. Why can’t I find a band that puts them together? That’s that. I want to make that band.'”
Though “Will Never” doesn’t fully express this genre melding idea, it is the underlying inspiration of R U N’s sound. Lochlan shared that the second single takes inspiration from Slipknot and Satyricon, and is intended as “the angry, hectic, sort of more black metal-y hardcore sounding song” of the R U N repetoire. The song immediately inspires butterflies of anxiety in me before getting even more hectic.
Talking about how “Will Never” came to be, Lochlan says “We wanted the sound for that song to be particularly nasty. We liked the idea of going from having it super positive lush opening track and then immediately just smashing everyone into the dirt with a much more negative area. But that was the one song we hadn’t written really anything off. Mike had been fiddling around with a couple of riffs, but we still hadn’t really hit our stride at all with that song. It was almost as if everything else had been written and that song didn’t really exist yet. And then the seizure happened and we were like ‘shit there’s a deadline’.”
The seizure occurred in early 2019, after the beginnings of the project in 2018. The two had had the majority of the music written and demoed at that point. With investigating the cause of the seizure and the shock discovery of a brain tumour, it was clear that surgery was necessary. Lochlan shared that the experience sparked a new sense of mortality and also urgency when it came to R U N, and especially to “Will Never”. Of the experience, he says “I think that really did benefit the song in kind of capturing the vibe. I don’t think the anxious kind of thing was perhaps an intentional thing, but now you kind of mention it, it’s clearly a result of what was happening.”
“Cathode rays cutting cold lives unbroken to the core”
They’d decided to bring up the deadline for recording, due to the fog of uncertainty. An end of week phone call asking if Monday suited Lochlan for surgery inspired a rush of completion. The songs were then finished over the weekend. It kinda hits to the core as to how up in the air it all was when Lochlan shared that even promo photos were taken ahead of the surgery “just in case the worst happened”, not to mention his descriptions of signing forms to release the hospital from any fault if something went wrong.
It was clear to Lochlan to forge ahead with R U N, deciding “Alright, we’ve got to finish the record”. Aside from the risk of death, the impact of the surgery could have rendered him unable to sing or even speak. But thankfully it all went well: “Apart from just a few weeks and then to a lesser extent a few months of a slightly droopy mouth, none of those fears came to fruition, and I actually did end up slightly re-recording one part on “Will Never” once we were actually stuck into the mixing process. Apart from one line on the song, everything was done before the deadline.”
The line “A split second from existence clandestine and your fucking death” was the one in question. Lochlan says he kept being rubbed the wrong way by how the line previous had worked with it, and felt that it needed to be changed. On the subject of “Will Never”‘s lyrics, they are understandably impactful, with “One slip of the mind and you’re gone” seeming to capture the shock of realising the fragility of being a mortal being.
Elaborating on the inspiration, Lochlan says it was due to his experiences, but also that he was keen to write something that could be relatable to others. It’s interesting that COVID-19 had came to the world’s attention after the song’s completion, making it even more relevant to ponder on the fact that we’re vulnerable to dying in unpredictable ways. In Lochlan’s words: “I thought that line “One slip of the mind”, obviously there’s something that’s gone wrong in the biological elements of my brain, but then one slip of the mind could be one moment of carelessness; not looking left and right and left again before you cross the road, not making sure the gas is switched off or whatever. You could just fuck up and you could be dead any second. I’m coming from a situation where something just completely blindsided me, out of total nowhere, and thought “Oh shit, you’re mortal.” I was just trying to convey that sense that anything can happen to anyone at any second and you never know when you’re going to die.”
Another line of “Will Never” that stood out to me was “Every second is one less that you have / What less do you have?”. It seemed to me that it related to looking at your life up to that point in time and questioning yourself along the lines of “Am I doing/have I done what I wanted to do while I’m alive?”. Lochlan confirmed this is where he was coming from, how with the shock of recognising your mortality, you’re pushed to consider how you’ll be spending the days and moments that you still have. He says “It’s just a reminder to kind of do what makes you happy and do what’s important to you.”
Though it sounds considerably darker than this positive perspective would indicate, Lochlan says that he was happy to have put his “What if?” fears of death into a musical form. That angle of positivity is most apparent toward the end of “Will Never”, which was an unexpected but welcome surprise when I first heard the song. Lochlan says “Yeah, we’re all gonna fuckin’ die but NOT TODAY, so get out there! You’re not dead yet.” The “No, not today” line of the song was inspired by his friend Jen Buxton, who had responded to Lochlan’s tweet about dying with a positive sentiment. He says “She wrote back ‘But not today, friend’. And I was like ‘Ah, that’s the end of the song! Done!'”
Exclusive to Depth, watch the animated video for “Will Never” now via YouTube, and access via other services here: https://lnk.to/runmetalwillnever