Birmingham band Led By Lanterns is on a mission to push alt-rock into something darker, which takes the best bits of pop songs and improves them with metal and electronic influences. As a result, the band have honed an infectious fusion of “boyband vocals” intersected with huge riffs.
Led By Lanterns is formed of Shaun Hill (vocals), Chris Lanterns (guitar), Rob Hawkins (bass) and Snake (drums). They’d all been playing in previous bands that lacked the fire they all wanted but united in what sounds like an interesting situation. As Chris explains: “Connected through friends, we moved in together in a closed-down college in Birmingham, to focus on writing music that resonated with our feelings. The college became a place to crash for so many touring bands and those bands (their music and their stories) inspired us to become the band we are now.”
The band released a series of singles and a couple of EPs over the last few years, which are all building up to their debut album Paralysis in January. On the album, Chris says: “We’re so excited! It feels like such a milestone for us as a band. This album really helped us to finalise our sound and we really can’t wait to show everyone. This album feels like the making of LBL. You can definitely hear our inspirations and how we’ve used them to create new ideas and sounds on this album.”
Our latest taste of what to expect from the album is new single Good Enough, which features Mercedes Arn-Horn from Canadian band Courage My Love, who we saw perform with Chapter and Verse in 2017. The track begins with Shaun’s laid-back vocals, which build up pace then are joined by Mercedes, who then takes on sole vocals.
Shaun joins in for the lines “But when I feel like I’m done, When I’m out of my luck, That’s when you come, Show me your love, And make me feel good enough again.” A brief pause is smashed open by a huge guitar riff, which sees the vocals intensify in a heavier rendition of the same vocals. More upbeat dual vocals continue and a big chunky guitar riff jumps in, before the track comes to a mellow ending. Check it out in the video here:
A heavier dose of what’s coming from the album is the title track Paralysis. It opens up with a cool little spinning sound that bursts back in alongside heavy guitars, before dropping into a laid-back opening verse. More intense vocals take over with the fantastic vocals “Am I cursed or overtired? Gets worse when I close my eyes, I’ve never been to church, But I’ll pray this time, Demon of the night, Don’t keep me paralysed.”
That feeds into a big catchy chorus led by the engaging vocals “I feel the devil’s weight holding me down, I’m trying to speak I need you to hear me now, I keep reaching out I’m somewhere between, The real world and make believe.” The chorus ends on heavy guitars that drop into a more chilled-out verse that quickly intensifies again.
Second time around, the chorus drops into lighter vocals that end on a big scream and heavy guitars, which feed into a big final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the video here:
The band have crafted a string of ridiculously catchy singles, including the delicious Alive, DXWN and Criminal. They also explain their production process for some of these tracks on YouTube, which is generally really fascinating to watch and insightful for anyone out there that wants to mix their own music. For example, Chris explains their creation of Criminal, including some of their interesting tactics for creating unique sounds, here:
But a personal favourite is Catacombs, which was released in March. It fuses big infectious choruses with filthy riffs and heavier metal influences and we love it. Check it out in the lyric video here:
The Led By Lanterns sound has been heavily influenced by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, I Prevail, Dayseeker and Don Broco.
And the band tell us that mental health is a key issue they want to address in their songs. As Shaun explains: “I like to write about things I’m going through at the time. Writing music helps me to articulate thoughts and feelings and helps me deal with them. Most of our songs are aimed towards people that might feel alone in their own struggles.
“At the same time, playing energetic shows and imagining what a song we’re working on would sound like through a big PA definitely inspires us to write heavier riffs.”
Aside from releasing music, Led By Lanterns are also active on streaming channel Twitch and are always looking for new ways to engage with their fans. As Chris tells us: “Throughout the lockdown, we wanted to find new ways to connect with our friends and fans. We started streaming on Twitch to initially pass the time and it grew into a vibrant community, helping not only to connect people but also help people get through tough times.
“While She Sleeps launched ‘The Sleeps Society’ and hugely inspired us to take our community one step further, so we created ‘The Lanterns Alliance’ on Patreon. Inside, our community has grown so much stronger. It’s given us all a place to hang out, discuss ideas, help one another and has given us a platform to share exactly what we do behind the scenes with Led By Lanterns. New ideas, demos, playthroughs, tutorials, mental health talks, Zoom hangs and more give everyone an amazing experience. We stream on Twitch every Wednesday at 9pm GMT and launch new content in The Alliance every week.”
Led By Lanterns’ debut album Paralysis will be released on 28 January. They’ll be supporting the album release with a UK headline tour, which begins in their hometown of Birmingham on 29 January, followed by consecutive nights in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Bristol, then finishing up in Leeds on 5 March. Tickets are available here. They’ve also been recording alternative versions of their favourite tracks from Paralysis, as well as new material for their next EP. So this is a band you’re going to be hearing a lot more from in 2022.
And Chris adds: “We want everyone to feel welcome in the Led By Lanterns community. Our music isn’t just there to be listened to. We want to make new friends, grow our community, and work together to inspire and help one another. We want to be open and here for a chat whenever it’s needed.”