INTERVIEW: Mark Trotter & Ross Smithwick – Lonely The Brave


INTERVIEW: Mark Trotter & Ross Smithwick – Lonely The Brave

Talking tone with the Lonely The Brave guitarists.

Can you describe Lonely The Brave’s sound in three words?

Gimmick free & heartfelt

Has both you’re playing styles and tone changed much since the band started in 2008?

Mark: I have always had a real love of post rock and film score music which definitely filters through to my tone and playing. I think our first record in some respects was quite raw, mainly due to time constraints that we had at the time as we paid for the record ourselves before we were involved with any record labels. This coupled with the fact that when we recorded that record we were a four piece meant that I always had an eye on being able to perform the tracks live and as such would not go too crazy with layers and layers of guitars. With the new record the biggest change was having Ross on board which allowed more room for exploration and layers of sounds and textures. That said my aim with Things will matter was to move away a little from delays and reverbs and not rely so heavily on them to produce a lager sound. I wanted things to be more immediate. We also experimented a lot more with other instrumentation, especially keys, which was very inspiring.

Ross: I joined the band in 2014 and my immediate roll was to add as a rhythm guitarist to back up Mark and provide a fuller sound live. Very quickly tho, as we started writing together my role changed and we found that my style of playing perfectly fits with marks, with us both switching from lead to rhythm and adding more soundscape atmospherics sometimes all in the space of one song!

Did you approach the guitar parts on ‘Things Will Matter’ differently to ‘The Day’s War’?

Mark: Maybe answered this a little bit above . With Ross joining the band, I no longer felt that I had to really concentrate on covering as larger portion of our sound as I did which was liberating as I could now concentrate on playing parts that were maybe more dextrous or ambitious. The first record was very much focussed around how to perform the tracks live.

How does your rig differ from being in the studio to being on the road?

Mark: I’m lucky enough to have guitars and amps that mainly only come to be used at the studio as they are maybe not reliable enough or are too precious to stand up to the beating that our equipment inevitably takes whilst we are touring. Live I try to keep things pretty simple still; I usually run two amps in combination, a pedal board with the bits I really need to get by and a cable. I’m not into wireless guitar systems or racks/switchers currently, I just like to keep things simple. I find that, for me, that’s what sounds best.

Ross: My set up is pretty much the same in the studio as it is on the road. Although in the studio I play around with more guitar choices and like to experiment with synth sounds which I’m not doing live just yet. My sound is quite simple so I don’t want to sound too different in the studio to what I do live. A lot of my sound is in my playing, where I really attack the heavy parts and then totally ease back on the softer parts.

What Marshall gear do guys currently own/are you currently using?

Mark: I have owned or used pretty much everything in the Marshall catalogue over the years but recently I have been touring Bluesbreakers, a Silver Jubilee re-issue head, and my old faithful 100 Watt SLP “Plexi” through a 1960TV 4 x 12″. That amp is just me in a box. Every time I turn it on, it’s like coming home. I can’t do without it. I recorded every track on our first album with that head. It’s unbeatable. For rehearsals I have a mini jubilee head which I love and a Marshall 1 x 12″ cabinet and currently at home I have a code for practicing/demoing ideas.

Ross: I currently use a JTM 45 head with a matching Handwired 4 x 12″ cab which I absolutely love. The clean sound is crystal clear, and when running my numerous drive pedals the response and sound is perfect. It’s a beast. I also have a JCM 900 that I have had since I was 16 which I use for bits in the studio. I’ll always love that amp too.

Any advice to young, aspiring guitarists reading this?

Mark: If you truly believe in the music you are playing and writing, so will someone else. keep going, keep practicing and listen to yourself and what you want to achieve. Nothing else really matters.

Ross: practise every day. Not even properly practise, just sit with you guitar while watching t.v or whatever and play and play. That’s when the riffs and chords that really matter come, completely out of nowhere.