Northlane on embracing guitar more than ever, and dealing with haters

The Aussie metallers’ Jon Deiley on why the band’s new guitar-forward record reflects his love of electronica more than ever, and why he always reads the negative comments about the band.

Northlane (2023)

Northlane, 2023

When you purchase through affiliate links on Guitar.com, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more

Australian metal quartet Northlane are about to release their new Mirror’s Edge EP, which should mark the beginning of a brand new touring cycle, and gauging the reaction to what the band describes as “the greatest hits” of Northlane’s ever-evolving sound.

As guitarist and main songwriter Jon Deiley describes though, that couldn’t be further from the general feeling among the band right now. “It feels like it’s already out,” he tells us, “I haven’t stopped since probably July [2023]. We did the tour in Australia basically for the EP. It was the Dante tour, but we played a couple of other songs from that, so it feels like it’s already done. I know it’s coming out, but it does feel like it’s out already.”

The decision to put out an EP rather than working for an extra 18 months on a full-length album came from Deiley’s observations of the band’s peers and the trend of leaning towards shorter form releases to support touring.

“Coming out of Covid we hadn’t been doing a lot of that,” he explains, “Especially with Obsidian, we were still in and out of lockdown here in Melbourne and by the time it came out we didn’t get to tour it everywhere. Where we did, it was broken over a couple of months so it just felt right to put all of our energy into a smaller amount of songs and then use those songs to do tours and festivals.”

Northlane (2023)
Northlane, 2023

Deiley is all too aware that fans of the band have been desperately seeking new material. “And I get it,” he laughs, “Mirror’s Edge gives them something without having to wait a year and a half more than they probably would.”

The benefits of a shorter form release don’t stop at being able to get new material into the hands of their fans, though. Making an EP also means the entirety of it is able to be enjoyed in a setlist.

“When you make a full-length, often because you still have to play your older stuff live, you generally only play five or six songs from it and then there are a few songs that you might swap in and out every now and then. There are some songs that never see the light of day, because you only play for an hour or 45 minutes or whatever. They just never get added.”

Indeed, delving into Northlane’s discography reveals that almost half of the band’s material is yet to receive a live debut. “I feel like there have been songs over the decades that have been wasted,” Deiley elaborates, “If we only did EPs and we worked on those songs even further, maybe they could have been singles later on.”

Mirror Image

As the main songwriter for the band, Deiley walks us through what his life has been like since they began recording Mirror’s Edge only one year after 2022’s Obsidian was released. He shrugs as he explains.

“Once the writing and the recording is done, it just doesn’t stop. I have to make a lot of the show files, putting the sets together and the song order. In the last couple of years we’ve been honing in on what people can expect when they come to a Northlane show. It’s not just like, ‘This is this song,’ and then there’s a gap, and people applaud, and it’s into the next song,” he laughs.

“I take a lot of my inspiration from going to electronic shows and raves and stuff. When you go to those things there are no pauses. It’s about the experience and the journey. I spend so much time figuring out the tempos and the ups and the downs without actually having to stop a set, and blending that all together. That takes a long time in itself, but then I’ve got to teach everybody else. There are literally videos of things I’ll never play, just to show Josh (Smith, rhythm guitars) what I mean!”

Deiley is all too aware that Mirror’s Edge will be divisive. It’s a guitar-heavy record, returning Northlane to their roots and taking the pedal off the full-throttle electronic approach they’ve been attempting to nail for years.

This EP is purposely more band-heavy, Deiley tells us, with “heaps” of production and electronic elements coming through. “They’re supplementing the band more than anything, though,” he explains, “It’s my love for electronic music shining through.”

Fans with negativity to spread always shout louder than those who don’t, and that’s difficult to avoid when you’re gearing up for a new release, and trying to read the reaction. “It’s interesting, because I feel like a lot of people that aren’t in the music industry are just like, ‘Just don’t read the comments, don’t look at it,’ but you’ve put all of this time and effort into what you do, so you want to see how it sticks,” Deiley shrugs. “If I was not 100% backing my own stuff and I put it out and people were like, ‘That’s shit,’ I’d be like, well, I kind of knew that,” he laughs.

“We’ve been getting flack for being who we are for a long, long time,” he elaborates. “And I know that it goes deeper than just music. It doesn’t matter what it is, people just have to say their piece. I don’t know about anyone else but when I look at things and I think, ‘That’s cringe,’ or, ‘I don’t like that,’ or whatever, I just keep moving. I don’t spend a further second thinking about it.” He takes a second to reflect before laughing, “It must really bother them!”

Northlane (2023)
Northlane, 2023

Active Pickup

Deiley, when writing the EP, was scratching an itch that had been bothering him for a while. “I just wanted to be more active on the guitar,” he says, “The stuff that I really love but I don’t think we’ve got nailed down yet is a really electronic song, but that usually means there are no guitars in it. Northlane is very much a guitar band, so when we play those songs and they don’t hit as hard I’m like, well, alright, maybe I’ll just write a fucking guitar song then,” he laughs.

Choosing Dante as the first single came naturally for that reason, with the band deciding to “throw the biggest curveball” out first to gauge the reception. “After that we decided to give [the fans] the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s give them the heaviest stuff,” Deiley explains.“Throw them against the wall, then ease them back into what they know.”

Northlane’s ability to evolve and experiment with a sound in flux alongside an ever-growing fanbase is quite the feat. “It blows my mind,” laughs Deiley, “We can write a song like Dante or a metalcore song like fucking Quantum Flux and we have fans that love us for such different reasons. It’s fucking weird!” That the band continues to develop reflects that they have room to grow as people, and as a collective.

“I’m still definitely a student,” says Deiley, “With the older stuff I was writing in a very different way – using Guitar Pro tabs without an interface or anything. I would just sit here and write numbers into software and it would play the most ghastly music back at me. It forced me to write every note, and every number had to count for something.”

Today’s process is so far removed from that, with feeling, nuance, and “vibe” being far more vital to the composure of each track. “I think Singularity is where I stopped doing that. I realised there was so much that you can’t actually notate. You miss things like moving your hands up and down the strings, and the weird things you do with your pick,” he explains. “Making that decision pushed me into a space where I could explore sound as opposed to guitar riff into guitar riff into guitar riff.”

Thankfully, Northlane’s fanbase has become so familiar with the band’s constant experimenting and evolving that the reaction to Mirror’s Edge, at least pre-release, seems largely positive. With campaigns popping up across social media pleading with Northlane to head back to the UK, whether for a full tour or a festival dream booking (namely Manchester’s RADAR festival), we checked in to see when the Aussies would be hitting our shores once more.

“Oh shit,” Deiley laughs, “There’s an announcement like, now. We’re back in September.” As for Northlane’s plans beyond the release of Mirror’s Edge? He ponders our question with an extended pause accompanied by a sly smile, “A full length? We’re always writing!”

‘Mirror’s Edge’ by Northlane is out on 12 April

Related Artists

Related Tags


The world’s leading authority and resource for all things guitar.

© 2024 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.