Published on March 23rd, 2013 | by Michael Glynn1
Interview With Madina Lake
The other day Madina Lake surprised everyone with the announcement that they would be splitting after eight years. They’ll be be hitting the road for one last time on a UK farewell tour and we caught up with bassist Matthew Leone to talk about the split, the final tour and what’s next for the members of one of our favourite rock bands of recent years.
Mediablasphemy: So wow, you’ve just announced that Madina Lake are splitting up, how did you get to this point?
Matthew Leone: To be honest it’s funny because the four of us talked about how we wanted to explain why we’re doing this and the camp was divided but I’m always of the ilk that you should just be straightforward about anything and then you don’t have anything to worry about. So to me it’s kind of a bummer because the four of us are closer than ever, our chemistry is at an amazing place but the logistics of life really consumed us. Dan had a kid and so he and his wife moved back to Philly so they could have family around them and Mateo moved back to Columbia, we’ve really been carrying on the band relationship so we talk and send file back and forth all the time which is fine but what wound up happening is that financially it’s impossible to sustain a career in music unless you’re a huge band.
Touring is considered a marketing tool to a record label and it has the biggest overheard that you can imagine so record labels aren’t giving tour support which means that the onus is on the band to foot the whole bill. If you can sell 1000 capacity rooms anywhere in the world and if you’re clever and cut corners then maybe you can break even. So that being said even if you have a respectable fan base around the world you can’t sustain that living and that’s ultimately what’s been happening to us, it’s just too hard to make a living and we have these other opportunities that are bubbling up that are really exciting for us so we figured it was a good time to do that.
What type of opportunities are we talking about?
There’s a movie studio that asked Nathan and I to write a script that chronicles Madina Lakes career from 2008 to when I got hurt and then our comeback show. So we wrote a script and extracted a story out of that, a true story and they’re interested in turning it into a film. Mateo and Nathan are moving to Los Angeles and I’ll be there part time to write the last Madina EP and they’re we’re going to get into scoring films and writing to licence music under a different moniker.
In a way it’s sort of worked out well because you got to tie up the Adalia trilogy of albums, did you ever think that you would be releasing more music after you finished the three albums?
When we first started we had this whole grandiose idea that was absolute naive and borderline arrogant to think that we could accomplish something like that but it was because we didn’t know any better. Now that we’re on the other side of it and we actually did it, it’s so fulfilling and rewarding, it seems appropriate now that we’ve accomplished something that was very unlikely to happen and it connected and resonated with people especially in the UK. We thought that we got in and did this huge thing that took us seven years and now it’s a good time to shut it down.
Why did you choose the UK for the farewell tour rather than staying at home and doing it over there?
There’s no secret that the UK is Madina’s home, everything that we visualised for the band and what we wanted to accomplish was realised in the UK and we just love going over there. The best experiences of our lives musically and personally have been over there so we thought that for the farewell tour we’re going to pick one market to go all out in and put everything we have into it and the UK was the obvious choice. I think we’re maybe going to do maybe a week in Japan and a week in Australia, maybe a week in the States but really our priority is the UK.
So what has been your absolute highlight of being in Madina Lake?
We did a tour called the ‘Arlene Ball Tour’ in 2010, the four of us have agreed that it was by far the best tour that we’ve done because that was when we were at a point where we could sell out the 2000 capacity room and the stages were big enough to do all the production we wanted. That was when Madina really hit our stride, we got past the bullshit of being on magazine covers and being this ‘emo boy band’, we got past all of that and settled into what we truly are and found the place where we were totally 100% comfortable. Of course there’s playing at Reading and Leeds Festival main stage which was unbelievable, there’s a few other things but the Arlene Ball was my favourite.
What about lowlights?
After Arlene Ball we came back to the States and we had two weeks booked on the Warped Tour and this sort of epitomizes our career as well, we were playing this tiny little stage which was literally a truck that pulls over and unfolds into a stage. We were tucked into a corner and playing to 200 maybe 300 people a day and that was when the band got dropped from Roadrunner. Once your label drops you, you’r management drops you, your booking agent drops you and it was an absolute nightmare. We got home from that and a week later that’s when I got hurt so that was a rough phase.
Nathan is releasing a book recently with a bunch of stories from his time in the band, is this something you’d want to do at some point?
It’s funny because he beat me to it so I can’t quite follow suit but I’ve been keeping a journal and I kept one through about half of Madina’s career and then through my recovery. Looking back at it, it’s a pretty interesting read so I definitely want to roll that out!
You must have some interesting stories from your time on the road, can you think of one on the spot?
When you read Nathan’s book it’ll blow your mind! I’ve never read anything so incredibly too honest, too honest to a point where it sucks for me.
Tell us one story…..
There’s a picture on the Madina Lake Facebook page and it’s a picture of him in a hotel sitting in a hotel and Dan is passed out on the floor and I remember the reality of that story. I was engaged through the whole touring thing and I married my wife so I never indulged in any of that stuff but those guys went through a phase when they were partying and indulging in all of that stuff. That particular picture, I’ll never forget that morning because I was always kind of the leader and administrator of the band and everybody was late leaving the hotel, I walked into that bathroom to that scene and I slipped on a condom and I got so pissed. I fell into Dan and I’m not an angry person but that was the first time where I was like ‘You asshole! Get the hell up!’
What would you say that being in Madina Lake has taught you about yourself?
I’ve learned that I have co dependency issues , I’m a people pleaser and doing what I do is the wrong line of work to be a people pleaser. We found success and I wanted to please everyone all the time so I’d find that I’d overextend myself constantly so that everybody was happy and got what they wanted. It ended up pretty taxing on me, I’d be the last guy on the bus and the first guy out in the morning and it wound up sort of exhausting. In a positive way I’ve never wavered from my personality or belief system, that being said I learned that by being with so many other bands that were so artificial and contrived, I’ve learned to appreciate myself and Madina Lake and that we never did that.
Just be yourself, right?
Yeah man, you can’t lose!
So you’ve played with some lame bands but you’ve also played with some great ones, who have been your favourites to play with?
There’s a lot but we had the good fortune of playing with The Smashing Pumpkins and one of the best things about the whole ordeal that I went through is that I’ve actually become really good friends with Billy Corgan. I can’t believe it! I was in his house having tea the other night, just me and him, one on one. We’re pretty tight now but I’m still at that phase where every now and again I get a little too awkward and I’ll hug him goodbye one too many times.
You mentioned earlier on that you’ll be recording another Madina Lake EP, what’s the idea behind it?
It’s tentatively titled Buena Fortuna which is ‘good luck’ in Italian and this is sort of our swan song EP. This is going to be the EP that we tour on with the farewell tour, we’re continuing to explore this deeper, darker side of who we are and it’s immensely gratifying for us. We’ve just got the first three songs together and there’s going to be one of those nine minute songs n there that just takes you on a journey because that’s our favourite thing to do. We’ve previously had to work within the parameters of pop song structure models and since this EP is just for us and it’s not going to radio it’s going to be pretty self indulgent.
Last year Madina Lake did a tour where you played the whole of From Them, Through Us, To You. What was it like revisiting that album?
It was great and some of those songs we hadn’t played since the studio. We’d never, ever played ‘Morning Sadness’ live once in our lives and we declared we never would but when we said we’d tour the first album we were like ‘Oh shit it’s in there’. We played that and it was pretty powerful.
What can fans expect from this final tour then?
I’ve always been the stage production geek in the band and I have amassed so many things. We’ve got the big Madina Lake light, eight stretch screens and two projectors and confetti cannons and all the balloons. So we’re going to have to figure out what venues can fit what in them, it might be a little tight with my seven foot weather balloons! Whatever the room will accommodate there will be a constant display of ridiculousness akin to the Flaming Lips.
Do you have a message for your fans?
I’d offer the token tip of the hat and expression of immense gratitude. Thank you for allowing us to realise our ultimate dreams. Secondly I’d say there will never be a last time you see us so we’ll be back in some incarnation or another!