Tomorrow marks the launch of Melbourne group Alpine's long awaited debut album A is for Alpine. Last month I sat down with the Phoebe and Ryan from the band to talk about recording the record, their upcoming tour, performing in America and much more...
Larry: You had a media launch launch night for the record. How did it go?
Alpine: Ryan: It was good, it was a weird vibe, but it was fun, bit of fun.
They’re always weird, everyone’s just kind of talking to themselves or watching you.
Phoebe: We had some people dancing though which was cool.
Well of course we’re here to talk about the album finally coming out in a couple of weeks! And you’ve got a pretty good tour lined up alongside it, you’ve got Club Feet and Georgi Kay alongside, how’d they come aboard?
R: We know a few of the Club Feet guys and they just said yes straight away one of the drummers works with Lisa Mitchell too. And Georgi Kay we just kind of heard of her, and thought she’d be cool, and she’s got the same manager too, she’s a lovely girl, really, really nice, can’t wait to see her live. It’s going to be awesome travelling with the same 2 bands.
Is there anywhere you’re going on the tour that you haven’t gone before?
R: Yeah heaps! We’re going to Warrnambool, Fremantle, Ballarat, heaps of places. There’s a lot of places we’ve been but we’ve only supported people, so now we’re going as a headliner, P:... and going more to regional places is good, nice to get off the beaten path.
Well fair enough it should be a great tour, hopefully they all go well, I’m sure they will you’ve got a lot of press happening at the moment with your latest single, "Gasoline", let's talk a little bit about that, and that came out I guess at the end of June, right?
R: Yeah, well the video just came out a couple of days ago. That was exciting, we spent a lot of time on that, to get it right, we sort of knew what we wanted but we were just trying to chase it down, in terms of the song. The video was Kris Moyes (best known for his Presets music videos; younger brother of Kim Moyes) conception, and we love it, we didn’t know what he was doing with it and then he came up to us and was like, I’ve got a yeti suit, and rented a helicopter. P: his pitch was really brief and short but its pretty much exactly what’s come out, is what he painted a picture of.
Well the feedback seems to be pretty positive for it, so good lead in for the record. So this is a record that you’ve been thinking about for a very long time and working on for a very long time, how far back do some of those songs go?
P:Well the oldest would be "Too Safe", started in maybe 07 or 08, and then it just became one of our favourites, we definitely wanted to put it on the album despite it being old. R: We spent a lot more time thinking about it than we did recording it, I think we only spent about 2 weeks recording it, but thinking about it and working towards this thing for about 3 years.
Well I mean some tracks would’ve come together easily I imagine because you’ve been working on them for so many years.
R: Yeah well there were a couple of them we wrote while we were in the studio, which some people have never done before, P: but mostly we had everything ready to go, R: and Dan was really good at sort of, adding little touches to it that we wouldn’t have thought of, I mean we’ve been playing live for so long but we just kind of thought as a finished version and going back and yeah.
You had, for "Gasoline", Jeremy Wheatley (Dandy Warhols, U2, Empire of the Sun) mix it, and I think that’s what you were nudging towards in terms of there was a lot of extra work done on that track, because that was the only track he did right?
P:Yeah I mean we just kind of knew it would be the second single and we wanted it to be really big and craft it to be perfect. R: he just sort of had some cool little delicate touches that made it just that little bit better, like again that we would of never considered, and it was cool to just have someone like that working on a track, that’s done all these mega hits and pop stuff.
What surprised you the most about when it came down to working on the full length record? Was there anything that really sticks out and surprised you about that process at all?
R: It was easier than I thought it would be, P: I didn’t have any pre-determined ideas about what it would be like, but I suppose maybe a bit of cabin fever, because we were going up to the stables, R: which is this studio in the middle of nowhere, you can’t get phone reception up there, P: its beautiful R: yeah its amazing, and its cool because you’re away from everything, you sleep there, have all your meals there, and don’t get away from music at all, P: its just 9 til 1 in the morning just going and going and going, and by the end of it you need to rest your ears and your mind. R: We technically only recorded for 2 weeks, but we were doing like 18 hour days most of those. P: But Dan was just amazing to work with
And he’s worked with a lot of your friends before, so...
P: Yeah if I had to think of somebody in my mind to do an album with us, he would be the man. R: He just wanted to try everything, all the time, nothing was out of bounds, P: we could just do take after take after take, and eh wouldn’t get tired...
I guess at some studios you can sort of say, yeah I’m just going pop out get a case of beer from around the corner, but you must have really just been kind of working.
P: It was sort of a communal feel, like we all had to go in the car together if we wanted to get drinks or food, so it was like we were in a little commune, it was really nice, really beautiful setting, great place to be recording music.
One thing that I think Dan has the ability with, and pretty much every record that he’s worked on is his ability to take songs and turn them into an album, and give it a feeling like a start middle and an end, and I mean I’ve only listened to your record once, but that was an impression I got from it, you have an album, you don’t have a pile of songs.
R: Yeah well he’s old school like, group up listening to nothing but album rock, like the Beatles, and its just kind of got that feel, he thinks of it as a finished package, and he’s trying to sort of make everything fit together, so its cool to have somebody with that classic pop sensibility, just keeping that in mind. I mean the songs are a bit of a mix mash because they’ve been around for so long, that it could’ve been easy for it to seem sort of piecemeal.
I mean that first album is really so difficult, they say you have a lifetime trying to make your first album, and you’ve got 2 years to make your second, so often that first record is a bit fragmented, so it’s a testament to both you guys and Dan and his ability to construct that kind of way.
R: Yeah he’s a real talent.
So you’ve got the album, you’ve got the tour, what does the rest of the year have in store for you guys?
P: yeah we’ve got that, and just see what happens I suppose, if the album goes well that will change whatever direction we’re going in, or if it doesn’t, you just never know.
Did much come out of the American trip?
R: Yeah I think we’re going to go back over there.
Will you go to CMJ?
R: Well there’s been talk of it, we might go...
What was the weirdest show you played over there?
R: the last one was weird, there was a stage big enough for all 6 of us, Brian was standing on cases on the side, and the bar came right past the stage, they were bringing us shots of whiskey throughout the set so by the last song we were hammered. P: these were people we’d met through shows before, and they’ve come again which was lovely, so it felt like a bit of a strange family, and they all came to the front of the stage for a snap shot at the end, awkward family photo with our drinks in the air. R: we did an acoustic show as well in that place, it was like they were renovating or something, some eco show, it was really lovely, it was just a few people and a keg and they had pies out the front, and we just sat down and did one or two songs, did it acoustic and had a few people just watching us,, it was lovely, you were sort of welcomed into everybody’s family.
I think America has gotten a bit of a bad rap with that, but it seems like no matter where you go people just welcome you with open arms you know.
R: Yeah I mean, it seemed like people were amazed by how far we’ve come, like you came out here? All the way? P: But was a great experience, it was hard work, but you’re just high on adrenaline I guess, it was great. R: There was one show, we’d just travelled 33 hours, and we had to do 4 shows straight of the bat, and the first show we get there and we’re sound checking for about 30 seconds, there are all these important people there, having breakfast and drinking and what not, and then our drummer sort of looks up and says, “hey guys, where’s the kick pedal?” and we just didn’t have one, not at all, and all the other artists playing were rappers so nobody had one. So we freaked out of course, and then we looked across the road and there was a clothing store with a kick drum in the window as a prop, and we ran over there and asked them if we could use it, and ended up using it for the whole show.
That’s amazing! Thanks a lot for your time guys, its been amazing as always, and best of luck!