Melbourne based indie-pop crew Alpine have been mega busy this year. They dropped a 5-track debut EP and hit the road for a massive headline tour while also squeezing in a few support slots along the way. Additionally, they’ve released a new single, been added to the Falls Festival line-up and have also been readying the release of a full-length record for early 2012. We sat down for a chat with vocalist Lou James about all this and more.
How did the band’s name Alpine come about? In the earlier days we were actually called Swiss but there was another band from Adelaide also called the Swiss. So, you can imagine there was a lot of confusion when we started playing shows. By that stage the other three guys had officially joined the band and we came up with the new name collectively, trying to keep with the same kind of vibe. Alpine was just something we all agreed on – it had a sense of freshness to it.
Moving on to your debut EP, Zurich – were you surprised with its success? This is my first actual band so everything that is happening is really surreal and amazing. I mean, just having a song played on the radio blows my mind. Our track ‘Villages’ was added to Triple J’s playlist and was getting played heaps – it’s all pretty awesome. When you write a song, you put so much love and emotion into it and then to have it played and appreciated is just an amazing thing to experience.
How does the songwriting process take place within a six-piece band? Do you all have input into each track? It’s definitely changed since releasing the EP as we’re now all contributing to the writing. Before it was just the three original members – one of us would come up with the melody and the other two would take that away and flesh it out from there. Now, it’s more of a collective effort as we’re still trying to figure out what the ‘Alpine sound’ is.
The music vid for ‘Villages’ is a tad trippy. Where did the video’s concept originate? [Laughs] At first, people were either interpreting it as a positive song or a sad song. It’s kind of both I guess as it’s about the realisaton of when you fall in love and the fact that it’s so surreal. It’s a really beautiful thing – even though it hurts, you are so glad you got to experience it. So even though the video is quite trippy and ethereal, it does sum up the song really well. There was a really creepy vibe when filming because the house was supposed to be haunted – it made the making of the clip extra fun!
You’ve been hitting the road quite a bit this year. Do you all travel well together or are there punch-ups going on between gigs? No, not at all. It’s really good. It’s almost sibling relationship as we can fight or pay each other out but in the end we all get along really well and have a very professional approach to music. As soon as we start sound checking on stage, I feel like we’re all in our element. We have a really good balance of ‘work hard/play hard’. When you’re doing five or six shows in a row, you need to have a fun and comfortable dynamic happening.
How was your Splendour In The Grass experience? Incredible. However, it was so intimidating because it was the first time we had played outside during the daytime. It was a very different environment to what we were used to at that point. I couldn’t really relax because we were opening on the last day and as much as I wanted to get loose and get into the festival vibe I was just a bit too stressed out – I think all of us were [laughs]. Once we got on that stage, it was awesome. Afterwards, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day!
Which artists are you excited about getting to see play or possibly even meet at this year’s Falls festival? There are heaps! I really enjoy Crystal Castles because they are so intense and fun. Aloe Blac, The Jezabels because we just toured with them, CSS are always heaps of fun and Beirut are going to be awesome. Look, I think pretty much everyone – it’s such an amazing line-up. Oh wait, Fleet Foxes! I really want to see Fleet Foxes – yeah, I want to see EVERYONE [laughs].
What can you tell us about the awesome new music video for ‘Hands’? This one’s a little risque. It taps into a sense of innocence. That age of exploring your sexuality and the awkwardness of it. It’s a different interpretation to what the actual song means but it’s going to be really effective [laughs].
There’s also talk of a debut LP on the way in early 2012. Can you reveal anything about it? Yeah. We’re working with Dann Hume, he did some work on Lisa Mitchell’s Wonder album. We’re still writing it. There’s definitely enough material to go on the album but there’s more that we want to try to uncover. We find that we’re taking elements from different genres and creating something we all love. It’s still an Alpine sound of course but there is definitely going to be a more mature vibe about it. It’s hard to actually sum up at this point.
Where do you see Alpine 12 months from now? I’m not sure. Something new and exciting is happening almost every month so I really dont know what to expect. Here’s hoping we release the album next year, a few more singles and maybe travel the world. We have people from Chile and Mexico hitting us up on Facebook to come and play, so I say, lets go! I’d be so happy to be able to share our music with everyone like that. I guess that’s just what all artists want to do, right? You just want people to hear your music and hopefully enjoy it. Who knows? Music is the most unpredictable profession, you just have to go with it and hope that it is well received. Stay positive and stay in the moment.
Here’s the above mentioned, ‘risque’ music vid for ‘Hands’:
Be sure to check these guys out if you’re heading to Falls Festival. If you weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket, keep an eye out for them in early January as they kick off another tour to promote ‘Hands’.