ALTERJOY talks influences, talented friends and living in the moment

Adelaide-made and Gold Coast-based artist ALTERJOY (aka Ben Heidrich) has returned with his fresh new single and video “Better Make a Move”. Known as the drummer of Adelaide metalcore act The Daily Chase, Ben launched his solo project last year with his debut single “This is Real” and exuberant No Doubt cover “Hella Good”. The latest effort from the genre-bending alt-pop rocker blends EDM, dark pop and hip hop elements with his familiar metal background for a punchy singalong about superficial love.

Produced by Chris Lalic of Windwaker, “Better Make a Move” is a reflective song exploring modern society’s addiction to instant gratification on social media. It puts into perspective the hunger for attention when prioritising status over emotion, particularly in the boxy video where ALTERJOY wanders the city alone with a bouquet of flowers.

We had a chat with Ben to find out more about the project and what inspired the single.

First off, could you give us a brief history of the projects and bands you have been involved with that led you to ALTERJOY?

It all started with my metalcore band The Daily Chase, formed with four of my best mates in South Australia back in 2014. The band is still active, and we recently released a 12” LP featuring our latest EP and a live EP. I took up drumming when we formed the band as we couldn’t find a drummer; originally, I was going to play bass. We toured Australia three times, playing nearly every capital city including Perth.

In 2017, I started a punk band with friends from Wagga Wagga, called House Destruction Party. We released a single and music video, featuring a backyard party where we burned down the entire stage and skate ramp; an art project designed around the song and video. Additionally, I played drums for Rumours for a few shows, which was a blast. Jackson Bentley and I launched a trap metal project in 2021 called Oddbo¥, with only one song released online. We have a follow-up track and a few demos waiting in the wings I’m eager to get out soon.

My latest project ALTERJOY is something I have wanted to do for a long time and more than just my original music. I also plan on creating a new channel for artists and creators to speak their mind and tell their story. I’ve met a lot of amazing people in the industry over the last 10 years and I plan to have some really cool interview-style conversations with them through my YouTube and social channels.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken with you from playing in bands over the years?

Just enjoy every moment and play every gig like it’s going to be your last. You never know which show will be your biggest turn out, craziest set, or fondest memory of playing to a live audience. Life moves quickly, and it’s hard to keep five individuals with five separate lives in sync. The timing of someone pursuing a new job, starting a family, or relocating to another country can always come into play.

I’m not saying any of those things should stop anyone from being in a band, but I have learned that they will slow down the opportunities for everyone to be available at the same time. We managed to stay together as a band, tour, and write our best music while living interstate. It’s hard but worth it. I know that everything in life will continue to change and evolve, so I have to be conscious that the good times won’t last forever.

What does ALTERJOY mean to you, and how did you come up with the name?

There was a long list of names for this project and I didn’t land on the final name until I had written and recorded most of the music. I sat down with Chris Lalic and, by process of elimination, I decided ALTERJOY was the perfect name. I nearly called it idlejoy, but didn’t feel it resonated with the project as much. ALTERJOY: To alter your state of mind and find joy in a new process.

In your own words, how would you describe the music you’re making as ALTERJOY? 

I try to make music that sounds exciting and electric. I never want to create a carbon copy of something that has already been done, so I’m always exploring new sounds. My plan is to release a bunch of singles this year, each song unique and in its own realm. It’s fun playing with new sounds and elements in my music, even if some people don’t lock in to it straight away.

You meld a lot of genres in your music. Is that a crucial aspect of the sound, and are you inspired by any other artists who do a similar thing?

My biggest inspiration is the band Enter Shikari. I bought their early EP The Zone from a JB Hi-Fi in Adelaide back in 2007 and it completely changed my perspective of music. I hadn’t heard a lot of synth-driven music in post-hardcore back then. Enter Shikari was creating the most hectic and exciting blend of trance synths cut with gritty guitar riffs and throaty screams.

My second greatest influence is Bilmuri. I listened to a podcast with Johnny Franck on Punk Rock MBA where he explained his project and his processes in the studio, recording and releasing music as a solo artist. It literally motivated me to start ALTERJOY. I’m also inspired by artists such as Poppy, Ghostemane, Pussy Riot, and Bad Omens, all of whom create fresh new sounds that keep me enjoying music.

Is there an artist or producer you’d love to collaborate with?

I love working with Chris, especially on the ALTERJOY stuff. I feel we work as a great team in the studio and always leave feeling we’ve created something special. We collaborated on the last TDC EP, exploring the band’s sound by adding more electronics and new vocal styles. I would love to collaborate with more Australian and international artists on upcoming songs. There might be a cheeky feature on one of my singles dropping this year.

I’d also like to work with more hip hop and pop artists to really add more diversity to my sound. It would be super dope to do a collab track with a band like Banks Arcade or Paledusk in the future. They’re really pushing the envelope for creativity.

You released a killer cover of the iconic “Hella Good” last year. What was the story behind choosing it, and can we expect any more renditions of classic tracks in the future?

The decision to cover “Hella Good” was pretty spontaneous. We had a spare day in the studio after writing two new songs, so we decided to do a cover. We created the music and recorded the vocals all in the same day. The classic pop-rock song has a lot of attitude and matches the project’s dark tone. We were confident we could also give it our own twist while staying true to the original vibe. I’m planning to work on a bunch more covers to put out through my ALTERJOY channels and some fun drum covers once I have my new studio set up.

You also do a lot of video production work. Do you like to keep a hands-on approach when developing music videos for ALTERJOY?

I’m a filmmaker by profession and I believe the video stuff goes hand in hand with music creation. It’s all just a wild form of artistic expression. Every song I release with ALTERJOY will have some sort of video component. I worked on my first music video for “This is Real” with my good friend and video producer Aidan Rice. I self-filmed the playthrough for “Hella Good” at Gold Coast Studios.

The music video for my latest single “Better Make a Move” was directed and filmed by Jackson Bentley, who is another good friend and video producer. I also edited that video myself. I really enjoy collaborating with friends in the industry as they all bring something a little different and unique to the table. I also have some super talented friends!

“Better Make a Move” is available to stream everywhere. Add it to your playlist, follow ALTERJOY on Facebook and Instagram, and support local music!