Veering wildly from psychedelic avant pop to ‘skeletal folktronica’, Alt J are emerging as one of the UK’s freshest new bands. Having recently toured with Ghostpoet and Wild Beasts, Flex caught up with lead singer Joe Newman, and bassist Gwilym Sainsbury before their gig at Falmouth’s Princess Pavilion last week.
Guys last time I checked you were in Leeds playing the odd gig at Brudenell Social club. What’s happened? You’ve exploded.
Joe: We’ve just had our heads down and we’ve been working really hard. We’ve been touring in Europe with Ghostpoet, which was awesome, and not many people knew us over there. We’re now on tour with the Wild Beasts. I wasn’t aware that we had exploded?!
What has life been like since you’ve been signed to Infectious Records?
Joe: We’re still based in Cambridge. It’s a neutral ground, few distractions and a beautiful city so its been a brilliant environment to work in. We still live very frugally, no more than a student budget. We still get nervous on stage and the great feeling when people know the words to our songs never tires.
Tell us about the time running up to being signed. How conscious were you of the music industry and commercialism?
Joe: We were very sensitive to the industry. Getting signed to a minor instead of a major label was important. We’ve got a really good family around us that have supported us over the years giving us the confidence to be selective with signing a record deal and learning not to compromise the music under commercial pressure. We always just made music and then people have heard it. We never expected to sign and then make an album, but having deadlines is probably a good thing. We were conscious that bands can be pushed into making an album, but the timing was good and we’re confident and proud of what is to come.
Your new single Fitz pleasure was released in February, it’s catchy but it did take me a few listens…
Joe: Fitz pleasure we had for a while. We knew what it should be but we weren’t aware how to make it into a feasible track. It’s a mutant of a song. An anomaly but for some reason it just made sense.
I suppose sometimes you need to get to know a song?
Joe: Yeah definitely, it needs multiple listens to fully understand. Our management found it hard to digest but we knew there was something infectious about the single. It was kind of obsessive. It does seem to win people over.
Gwilym: Perhaps its heavy bass and drum beats, it makes peoples want to move their legs and shit their pants at the same time.
Tell me about the production side of making tracks
Joe: Translating effects and electronic sounds into something that works instrumentally on stage is hard. Its easy for effects to go in during the process of recording, its only after we’ve recorded do we then work out how to play it. Having said that its important for the album to be the best it possibly can without compromising the sound through what can be achieved purely instrumentally.
Is there any music you guys would recommend giving a listen?
Joe: The Peppermint Lounge. They only ever did one EP but its genius. They are a way better band than us. It’s kind of a triphoppy, sampledelic band. You can catch them on My Space. I really urge you to listen to them.
We can’t wait for the album, when is it set to release?
Albums out in late May, it’s called An Awesome Wave. We’ve got 2 weeks of rehearsals, getting to grips with the album, and then touring with it.
Finally plans in the pipeline? When can we see you next?!
‘Africa Center’ in London on the April 13. It’s our first proper UK headline. We can’t quite reveal quite what we have in store but its very exciting.
Check out there next gig here http://www.africacentre.org.uk/alt-j-an-awesome-wave/ or have a listen to them in the mean time http://soundcloud.com/alt-j