Charging around the world in a van, playing shows tanked-up on cheap beer is widely seen as the ideal way to spend your early 20s. At some point, though, the hangover will kick in.
Until recently, that was the case for Watford heavy rockers Lower Than Atlantis, following third album Changing Tune.
"Our mates have got decent jobs and they're having kids," says frontman Mike Duce. "We were thinking, 'Well, we've had a good run', so we said to ourselves: 'We'll make another album and really spend some time on it. Then we'll see what happens down the line.'"
Returning to Watford
LTA have gone back to go forward: returning to Watford, where they recorded their debut Far Q, to build their own studio. "It was just a massive open space and we had to get the chippies in," says Mike. The band also brought friend and Far Q producer Dan Lancaster back onboard. "He's a pop producer from a heavy rock background, so he's really good at merging [the two worlds]," explains Mike.
Their playing also shifts, moving between streamlined, catchy riffing and technical flourishes – Mike calls "a little intricate American Football-esque riff" on English Kids In America his favourite.
"We did weird things as well, where we'd just record four or five notes from a scale and then, on a computer, make the riff out of that," says co-guitarist Ben. "It's so fun, making something new out of your guitar [part]."
Words Don't Come So Easily is a prime example, while storming advance track Here We Go is tone central – if you like late-90s metal guitar.
"We were re-amping, recording to DI and experimenting with different amps," says guitarist Ben Sansom, with the winners often Marshall JCM800 or 900s, or an Orange Thunderbird 50.
Guitar duties were handled by two Gibson Les Paul Customs for Ben and American and Japanese Strats for Mike. "It's the whole Pumpkins thing, isn't it?" summarises the frontman."It's the final puzzle piece in the album's 'back to the start' philosophy.
"We got ahead of ourselves signing to a major too early," says Mike. "This is back to Watford, our studio, our mate did it…" Ben interjects: "It's what made LTA good before."
Lower Than Atlantis will be touring throughout July and release their self-titled album on 29 September.