Interview: alt-J

Interview with alt-J



We stole ten minutes with publicity-shy four-piece alt-J, to find out more about the history of the band and the experimental indie on their hugely-acclaimed debut, An Awesome Wave.

Questions and answers

Hi guys, where are you right now?

We are in our van, driving from Sheffield to Glasgow for a gig tonight.

You just finished touring with Wild Beasts, didn't you? How was that?

It was great, they’re lovely guys.

So, can you explain how the band formed and where your cryptic name comes from please?

We formed at Leeds University – we were just all friends there. The name is the keyboard shortcut to create this symbol: Δ. We thought it was a nice name!

Congratulations on An Awesome Wave – it’s fantastic! Can you tell us a little about your inspirations please?

Thank you! Basically, we all have very different musical backgrounds, so the band doesn’t just have one musical “direction”. And we are as influenced by film, books and personal experiences as we are by music.

And what were your key musical reference points when writing and recording the album?

Each other! That’s all we really work with when creating music. Our individual influences simmer under the surface, but we don’t have joint reference points in that way.

Do you have a favourite track on the album?

Each of us has a difference favourite: Joe’s is "Tessellate", Gus’s is "Taro", Gwil’s is "Ms" and Thom’s is "Something Good".

The "Breezeblocks" video is great: who came up with the concept?

It was conceived and directed by Ellis Bahl, a filmmaker from Brooklyn. We love it.

We heard you only started the band a few months ago! Is that true and has it surprised you how fast sucess has come for you?

Well it’s not really true to say we started music a few months ago... We were all musical before even going to university, and started the band three and a half years ago. To us, it doesn't seem like things moved that fast.

You rarely reveal your faces on press shots. Is it just a way to play with art or do you do it to protect your privacy?

Both really. We just don’t like clichéd band photos. Music is more important to us than PR!

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?

Probably a filmmaker. We'd love to do soundtrack work with someone like Paddy Considine or Wes Anderson.

What’s been your favourite record of 2012 so far?

It’s not out yet, but we’ve got an advance copy of Cave Painting’s album and it sounds great. It should be out later this year.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012, and what are your ambitions ultimately for alt-J?

This year it’s touring and then more touring! Ultimately, we’d like to leave behind some albums that mean a lot to people.

Finally, what are the worst and best things about being in alt-J?

The worst thing is not seeing our friends and family enough, and the best thing is getting to do something we love for a job. That never gets boring!