Editors’ Notes Detailing the traumas and violence endured by singer Marcus Bridge, Sydney metalcore band Northlane’s fifth album, Alien, is intense, harrowing, and deeply moving. “When I’ve written really personal songs in the past, it’s felt like a release,” he tells Apple Music. “But I’ve been dealing with this stuff for most of my life and those feelings are still very present.” Bridge grew up near Sydney with abusive, drug-addicted parents and a sister who has since fallen into, and out of, addiction herself. He joined Northlane in 2014, replacing founding vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes. On Alien, his third album with the band, he’s finally ready to tell his story. "Putting this album out is, hopefully, the start of finding closure, but it’s going to take a long time. It’s important for people to be okay with talking about their own experiences, and to help others understand, if they haven’t lived it themselves.” Talking us through the tracks, Bridge explains more about his painful experiences and how they’ve affected his life.

“Details Matter”
“This felt like the perfect track to start with. It has such an impactful riff. The theme is different to the rest of the album, but we wanted it to be our opening statement. It’s about feeling like people weren’t supporting what we were doing as a band. The chorus goes, ‘You can't make me disappear/I'm still here.’ Some people were turning their backs on us, but we’re still here.”

“This is where the story starts. ‘Bloodline’ is about being brought up in a broken home and being able to make it out. We felt it was important to spread that positive message, even though the story itself is so dark. Hopefully it’ll encourage others to get past their own struggles, however similar or different they are to mine.”

“I struggle with knowing that there are people who’ve gone through the same stuff I went through as a child, but they weren't able to make it out. I’m really lucky, but I feel guilty about it too—and that’s what this song is about. Many people aren’t able to understand that what they experienced was wrong, or that they can change that story and be different to their families or whatever is expected of them.”

“Talking Heads”
“We messed around with more vocal effects and distortion on this album. This song is about anxiety, and the weird vocal effects reflected that feeling of the voice in the back of your head, trying to make you second-guess yourself.”

“‘Freefall’ is so raw. When I was young, my parents would always go into [Sydney neighborhood] Kings Cross to score whatever they were trying to score. One night, a guy broke down the door and pointed a gun at my dad. It’s something no kid should ever, ever see. I experienced a lot of crazy, traumatic stuff growing up, and as I grow older I feel like some things don’t really affect me anymore. In this song, I’m saying I still hear the screaming, but I can’t feel it at all. I've become a bit numb now.”

“Lyrically, it’s more metaphorical, but it’s about how I tried to find direction after my father died. There was a while where I’d lock myself in my room and get high and try to write music, but I wasn’t really doing anything other than locking myself away and keeping everything out. For a long time I thought I was fine, but I wasn’t.”

“This is one of my favorites on the album. There’s an interesting juxtaposition here: The story is dark, but it sounds like a dancey, frantic, four-to-the-floor party song. It’s an attempt to try to understand my dad and the stuff he did, and why he took out his frustrations on us. It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, my dad was awful,’ but there’s reasons that led him to be like that. It's bad, but it’s part of my life. I can try to understand him, but I’ll never be like him.”

“I’m really interested to see what other people take from this song, because it’s more open for interpretation—and a bit less meaningful—than the rest. This album is raw and intense, but I didn’t want it to feel indulgent. It's a genuine story; I’m not telling it for the shock factor. Hearing 11 intense songs in a row can get uncomfortable, which is not what we set out to do.”

“Our upbringing affected me and my sister in different ways. Until about a year ago, she had a meth addiction, and I was terrified about her going down the same path. Since then, she's done a complete 180. She’s doing really well and actually had a baby three months ago. This song is about how I’m still worried. I know how hard it is for her. I’ll always be here for her, but I also have to let her go and trust her to make her own decisions.”

“The theme is similar to ‘Details Matter,’ about people not thinking we’d make it after I joined the band and our sound changed. I don't think a lot of people had faith in us. But where ‘Details’ was more us looking back and being frustrated, ‘Vultures’ is more of a ‘fuck you.’ It’s directed at those know-it-all vultures trying to pick apart what we’re doing, as if they know best. But it’s not up to them.”

“‘Sleepless’ is about how my mum knew that my sister had become an addict and did nothing to stop her. In the chorus, I say, ‘I know you’re alive, but in my mind I’ve said goodbye.’ I cannot have a relationship with her. It’s not something I can forgive for a long time, if ever. My mum has fucked up so hard, but she’s still not able to accept it. Even as some of these songs have come out, she’s come at me saying I'm the asshole for airing it out. She hasn’t heard this song yet. She can hear it whenever she decides to listen to it. But I think it's important that she does.”

Details Matter
Talking Heads

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