It’s been three years in the making, recorded entirely in COVID times, and it’s finally just around the corner: Lonely the Brave’s immense third LP The Hope List. The journey to get to this point has been winding – amid tour cancellations and uncertainty, it’s LTB’s first music out with new vocalist Jack Bennett, but the band certainly deliver. The Hope List is emotionally and sonically huge; we sat down with guitarist Mark Trotter to find out everything that went into it.

The record is the perfect start to the new year, and this was a kind of happy accident: “to be honest, if all this stuff hadn’t happened it would already have been out,” says Mark, “but now that was exactly the plan, new year, new start, all those things…” Aside from a refreshing beginning to 2021, Mark doesn’t reckon there’s any specifics that we should take away from The Hope List – it’s far more personal than that. “Honestly whatever you want, whatever you need from it… I know it sounds really cliché but it’s true. All we want is for people to identify with it, that’s the most powerful thing. And the most proud thing when it comes to music! We get messages from people all over the world from people, of how one of our songs helped them, how incredible is that! If you can help someone by doing something that helps you and that you love, that’s a really fortunate position to be in, so that’s all I want to come from it.”

The new year isn’t the only new start that Lonely the Brave are embracing, as The Hope List is their first music out with new vocalist Jack Bennett, but it’s been exciting to develop in the new team. “It’s been great! Working with Jack’s a new process for us, and it’s been really interesting, because we’ve done it all ourselves with Jack at the helm. We’ve always recorded with a producer, an engineer, prepro stuff ourselves then go to a studio and do it ‘properly’ but we’ve done that as we’ve been going along this time. Is there pressure? Yeah, probably, I’m sure Jack feels the pressure but he’s incredibly talented so he shouldn’t have any worries.”

The sound of the ‘new’ Lonely the Brave is bloody immense if we do say so ourselves – is Mark worried about how fans might react to any sonic development on the record? “I think it still sounds like us! But the way I’ve been describing it is, it’s the same but different. We didn’t want Dave mark II, we wanted someone to bring their own influences to the band, their own style, and Jack does that – there’s nothing worse than trying to replicate what we had before, it’s just glorified karaoke at that point! Is it different, yes, I’m sure it’s gonna be different, but recognisable at the same time. If people were a fan of the band before and are into it, amazing, if they’re not, that’s ok as well I understand.”

The singles are definitely an important first impression to share, then! Bound was the statement of intent,” says Mark, “this is where we are, this is what’s happening. Distant Light is really poignant to me because of the imagery that it creates, and has a scope to be a really large sounding song. Keeper was the first one that we wrote, we were really excited about that one, so interesting that it’s the last one we’re releasing too.”

The recording situation obviously hasn’t been the smoothest, Mark shares: “There’s no right or wrong way to record, but I love being there when everyone’s doing their thing! That’s one of the things I really look forward to and this time that was taken from us. The time recording was so short, my parts from the album were actually done in a day! But it was two years of rehearsal to actually get to that point. We’re really really proud of it. We’ve always gone for the biggest sound we possibly can, and I think listening back to some of the songs that there is the sense of urgency [of recording] and what was happening at the time. I think we’re all in it still daily, it’s constantly evolving so it affects everything, so it’s trying to use that in a positive way if we can.”

The COVID pandemic has also been much closer to Lonely the Brave than most. “I understand it’s been very very hard for everybody,” says Mark, “but for us… our bass player Bush is a nurse, so he’s been very much on the frontline of all of this, all the heartbreak and stress that it brings. And Mo [drummer] has been doing patient transfer ambulance driving, so he’s been very much involved as well. It’s been very tough… but it has been for everyone.”

With that in mind, The Hope List is just the album we need right now. It’s out on Friday – preorder here.