Rediscovering home and happiness with BANNERS' new album 'All Back to Mine'.

In the kaleidoscopic realm of indie-pop, BANNERS, the musical moniker of Michael Joseph Nelson, stands as a luminary crafting music that resonates deep within the soul. With his latest opus, All Back to Mine, out today under Nettwerk Records, BANNERS invites us into a realm of heartfelt lyricism and infectious optimism. 


Returning to his roots in Liverpool after spending seven years in Canada, BANNERS infuses his latest record with the essence of homecoming, friendship, and unyielding optimism. The album serves as a testament to the enduring power of love – both familial and romantic – imbued with the vibrant spirit of his beloved hometown.  


Recorded over nine months in the picturesque landscapes of his native Liverpool as well as the Scottish isle of Lewis, All Back to Mine captures the essence of a transformative journey – one marked by camaraderie, creativity, and the unwavering pursuit of musical excellence. Collaborating with esteemed producer Cameron Blackwood and engineer Dan Moyler, BANNERS crafted a sonic tapestry that transcends boundaries and resonates with universal truths.  


Chatting with NOTION recently, BANNERS shares insights into his creative process and sheds light on the album’s genesis, shaped by the camaraderie of friends and the scenic landscapes he was surrounded by. Looking to the future, he hints at his new musical odyssey, promising an exploration of themes both familiar and uncharted. Join the journey with BANNERS and read our interview below now… 

How do the main themes of your upcoming album, All Back to Mine, manifest in the lyrical content and overall tone of the album? 

I didn’t really set out with a specific narrative in mind. I think you’re always going to be inspired broadly by the places you’re in and the people you’re with. I sometimes think it’d be interesting to write a concept album because you’d have your themes before you started. Like that Muse album about being a drone or any Pink Floyd album about being Roger Waters/being near Roger Waters. It’d be cool from a songwriting perspective because then you wouldn’t be confronted with a blank page every time you go to write a song. I do think you can trust in being inspired by places and people as long as you put yourself in places and with people that inspire you and I suppose that’s what I did for this bunch of songs. Trying to navigate the music industry is almost impossible because there are so many uncontrollable variables. It’s easy to second guess what you think other people want you to write and release and I think that, ultimately, leads to making music that you don’t really trust. This time I just tried to relax and be around people I really like, tried to write songs and lyrics that meant something to me and I suppose this album is the result. 

With your return to your hometown of Liverpool after spending seven years in Canada, how do you anticipate this sense of homecoming and nostalgia influencing the sound and mood of the music? 

I wouldn’t really say it’s nostalgia because I’m really loving being home day to day, minute by minute. I lived in Canada for 7 years and it was amazing. Not least because I’d never even released music before I went there and I owe so much of the life I have now to Canada and Canadians. But it can be hard being so far from home. So being away has given me a totally fresh appreciation for being at home and being with my friends and family. So it’s really not nostalgia because it’s right now. It feels like a gift. So yeah I think it’s really informed the music I’ve made since I got back and it will inform everything that happens next. I think I just sound happy in these recordings. Which might be an issue because I’m not sure how much patience people will have for that! Feels like sadder is cooler! 

The breakout track ‘Someone to You’ has amassed over 780 million streams on Spotify – what do you think it is about this song that makes it so universally relatable and enduring? 

Well, I don’t really know. I wish I had that insight into how to make people feel whatever they’re feeling because I’d do it again. Sometimes you get to capture lightning in a bottle. I was feeling pretty desperate and lonely when I wrote it and I think even though the song sounds really upbeat it’s actually pretty existentially desperate. Maybe there’s something to that? That it’s all happy sounding but it’s kinda just a cry for help. Like ‘Help’ by the Beatles. Loads of Smiths songs too. The opening line is “I don’t wanna die or fade away / I just wanna be someone”. I suppose everyone feels like that don’t they? You just want to feel like you matter to somebody. 

Having made 40 songs for your new album, All Back to Mine, what was your selection process – what criteria did you use to choose the songs that made the cut? 

I really just chose songs that moved me when I listened back to them and tried not to over think it. Overthinking this stuff is the easiest thing in the world to do. You write so many songs that it’s really easy to lose perspective on them. I’ve come to learn that if a song doesn’t move you then it isn’t going to move anybody else. The songs I’ve released that have mattered to people are the ones that really mattered to me when I wrote them so I think that’s a pretty good rule going forward. 

How did the collaborative environment (working in-studio alongside producer Cameron Blackwood and engineer Dan Moyler) influence the creative direction of the album? 

That’s always going to have a massive effect on how things sound. Another thing I’ve learned from being in the industry for a while now is to only do stuff with people you really like. So much of this business involves a lot of time with people in small spaces; recording an album in a studio, on stage, in a van or a tour bus, in hotel rooms. A lot of the time when you’re tired and always doing quite an emotionally vulnerable thing. So if you’re not with people you love it can be horrible. So Cam and Dan and all my other collaborators have such a huge effect because I love being with them so I’m really happy and I think that’s a huge part of making art you love. They’re also insanely talented so that helps. 

In what ways do you think your background in the Liverpool Cathedral Choir and early experiences with music have shaped your personal sound and style as an artist? 

I think the main thing is it teaches you to try to do things to the best of your ability in everything you do. That cathedral is absolutely massive but some nights you’d be singing to about 10 people but the lesson was that you had to be as committed on those nights as you were when there was 4000 people in there. Because God is always in there I suppose! I’m not necessarily religious in a traditional sense but I feel very spiritually connected to humanity and I think that if we all try as hard as we can at everything we do then everything is better for everyone. I always felt like I had a duty to the amazing building and the people that built it over nearly a century to do as well as I could. And that’s how I feel about my life now and particularly in making music. 

How do you believe the change in environment influenced your songwriting and musical development when you relocated to Canada? 

Well before I went to Canada I was just writing songs in my bedroom and recording them on a little recorder that I had and absolutely no-one (quite rightly) wanted to hear them! And then I went to Canada and met the right people at the right time and then things went better than I could have ever hoped. So yeah, I owe so much to those people and to that country. I’m so grateful that I never felt like an outsider there and it’s such an inspiring country in so many ways. Particularly musically. There’s so much amazing music happening there. Toronto is such a diverse city because they seem to value immigration in a way that I just think is so beneficial to a society. It makes for such a rich culture. 

How has your poetic and deeply personal songwriting process evolved over time – particularly with regards to collaborating with other songwriters and opening up about your experiences? 

I’ve just gotten more comfortable with it. And more confident I suppose. Songwriting is like anything else; the more you do it the better you become. It’s like working a muscle at the gym, as you do it more that muscle becomes stronger. I think people want to hear that you wrote this song in a dream or that song just hit you like a bolt of lightning and that can happen. But it can only happen if you put the work in. One of the best ways to learn how to work that muscle is by working with other songwriters. It takes a little bit of time to gain confidence, it’s very strange to write songs with other people at first because lyrics are such a vulnerable thing. It’s a bit like writing a diary with people looking over your shoulder. But the more you do it the more you realise no one is gonna laugh at you. It all gets easier the more songs you release too. Especially when you’re writing with people that have had mega hits. It’s somehow hard to justify your place in the room when you’ve not really released anything. Really though you realise that no one is judging anyone and everyone is only here because we want to make something good. 

Your collaboration with Lily Meola on ‘Perfectly Broken the Duet Version’ seems to have added a new dimension to the song. What aspects of your respective styles do you think complement each other the most? 

I think mainly Lily just sounds great and her being on there makes it better! The song is about 2 people combining to make something perfect so I suppose that’s what we’ve tried to do. 

Are there any other artists you’re hoping to/set to collaborate with? 

Honestly, I just want to do this with people I really like hanging out with. I’m always up for collaborations but I just want to have my own thing with my own people. I’ve got so many insanely talented friends here that people should know about and if I can help that in some way then I’d far rather collaborate with them. I can’t think of anything more spiritually rewarding than that. Particularly since I’d have such a great time doing it. 

As the song was written and recorded over nine months, primarily in Liverpool and Scottish isle of Lewi, what impact did this have on the creative process and the overall sound of the album? 

I really think the overall sound is just the sound of someone who is happy. I really do have my dream job and I was spending so much time being stressed out and worried about trying to navigate the industry, trying (and failing) to write a big hit, always on to the next thing and the next thing. And I never stopped to appreciate how great all this is. So that’s what I’m really trying to do now. Just love the opportunity to make music like this and be as present as I can. I don’t know how long I’ll get to do this like this and I’d hate myself if I looked back and didn’t love it in the moment. So I think you can hear that. Going somewhere like Lewis in the Hebrides is amazing for that because it is so breathtakingly beautiful there that you can’t help but stop and take it all in. And have a big think about how great everything is. 

As you’re set to tour Europe and the UK in the spring, how do you think live performances contribute to the overall experience of an artist’s music, and what can fans expect from your upcoming shows? 

Most of the time the only way you know that people are listening to your music is by numbers on a computer screen and it’s really easy to feel a little disconnected. It’s all streaming figures or monthly listeners going up or down. So it can be hard to stay motivated when things get a bit tough. When you play live you get to see the effect you can have on people and it reminds you the whole point of making music. So it’s such an important reminder of why you love doing it in the first place and also it’s just such an amazing, fun experience. Unique really. People singing along to words that you came up with is just the best thing. And you get to go to places that you probably wouldn’t have chosen to and you realise that the world is amazing. That people everywhere are amazing and that the entire world is far far more connected than some politicians or publications would like us to think. Sorry to go a bit heavy there! But it’s true. 

What’s next for you? 

I’ve got a few tours coming up so I’m mainly concentrating on not having this mega cold I’ve had for a few weeks! And then I need to start writing the next album. It never stops does it!? I don’t know what it’s gonna be about. Maybe being a drone or Roger Waters. 

Listen to 'All Back to Mine' now: