You may have heard people touting them as one of the biggest buzz bands of the year… and their nomination for the prestigious Mercury Award helps validate this statement! We’ve been faithful fans, and around our office, we simply like to think of them as one of this year’s most brilliant groups. Here we go, an interview with the spectacular Alt-J:
AMBY: Well I’d like to first tell you that An Awesome Wave is an awesome album! Which three tracks must be on everyone’s player?
Gus: My favourites on the album are Intro, Bloodflood and Taro. I think they’re 3 of the less poppy, more esoteric tracks on the album. If someone tells me one of those is their favourite, they immediately rise in my estimations…
AMBY: There are many nuances heard on the new album, how did you come about mixing all these genres together to create the Alt-J sound?
Gus: We took the approach that nothing was or wasn’t ‘alt-J’ – if we liked something, and it interested us, it fitted. Also, we spent a long time as a band before making the album, so I suppose we’ve developed as musicians over those years and the album reflects this.
AMBY: The story behind your band name is definitely a unique one! The delta symbol is used to show change, so what’s something that will never change about you?
Gus: Our approach to making music – we’re the only four people who matter when it comes to songwriting. Never try to make a certain type of music, just let things grow organically.
AMBY: I love that approach. And the band have been nominated for this year’s Mercury Award, congrats! How does it feel?
Gus: Thank you! It feels very flattering to be up for probably the UK’s most prestigious music prize. We can hardly believe it. It feels kind of like being in an exclusive club…
AMBY: You’re welcome, and that’s fantastic! How did you come up with the concept to make a modern day version of the painting ‘The School of Athens’ in the Tessellate music video?
Gus: In fact it was the director’s idea, and we loved it. When it comes to making videos, we prefer to let people interpret the music freely, rather than giving people aesthetic parameters in which to work.
AMBY: You’re touring a lot recently, what’s been one of the best moments so far?
Gus: Doing the festivals this summer was amazing. We got to go to some beautiful places – Japan, Sicily, Sweden… We played a tiny festival called Sinsal San Simón off the coast of Galicia, which takes place on two minuscule islands, and stayed for 3 days just chilling out and then playing music in the evening. One of those moments where you step back and think “This is my job!”.
AMBY: On the topic of touring, what’s your favourite song to play live right now?
Gus: I love playing Taro, as I enjoy the vocal harmonies Joe and I do. But equally I like playing Fitzpleasure purely for the reaction it provokes in people.
AMBY: Which band would you like to see reform?
Gus: The Peppermint Lounge. Everybody should check them out.
AMBY: Will do! What’s the last song you listened to?
Gus: Right now I’m listening to Lindisfarne by James Blake. Beautiful.
AMBY: And now, what song could you live without ever hearing again?
Gus: Breezeblocks? No I’m joking… Actually I manage to mostly avoid music I don’t like, so I don’t know.
AMBY: Haha, so what’s next for Alt-J?
Gus: We’re currently driving to San Diego to continue our US tour with Grouplove, then we go to Australia.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something nobody knows about the band… Yet?
Gus: Joe and I took a woodworking evening class together the year after we graduated but neither of us completed it.