British pop rockers alt-J come to Bluesfest after a whirlwind couple of years


9:30 p.m. July four, City Stage

RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, LeBreton Flats Park

Ticket information:

Members of the British electro-pop-rock band alt-J have been having some quiet time till the chance got here up to play a few Canadian cities, a journey they’re describing on social media as a “summer holiday” tour. 

“We’re really not doing much this year in terms of band activity but when the offer came in to go to Canada, we thought, ‘Why not?’” stated keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton in an interview from his dwelling in London, U.Ok. “We’re all quite looking forward to a little jaunt.” 

They had been planning a relaxation after a whirlwind couple of years, which noticed the 2017 launch of their third studio album, Relaxer, adopted by a 2018 reinterpretation of it, entitled Reduxer, which options hip-hop-driven remixes of the tracks. It pays tribute to the band’s love of hip hop, and helped them study to let go of the reins. 

“As a band, we’re not particularly big on collaborations really,” stated Unger-Hamilton. “We’re control freaks and I think we’ve always found collaborating a bit difficult. But this has now proven to be a success in terms of a working process so we’d like to do more in the future.” 

Unger-Hamilton stated he additionally hopes the Canadian gigs — which embody Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City — give them a “kick up the backside” to go into the studio once more. “To be honest, we’re all having a nice time away from band activity,” he stated. “There’s no news on a new record but maybe later in the year we might start putting our heads together and see what we fancy coming up with. I’m kind of hoping these gigs will (find) us enjoying playing together again.”

The band started in England about 12 years in the past, when Unger-Hamilton joined forces with Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Thom Sonny Green (drums) and Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), who has since left the band. They have been all college students on the University of Leeds with very totally different backgrounds in music: Unger-Hamilton had classical coaching, Green performed in steel bands and Newman was a self-taught guitarist. Their title is derived from the mix of keys — alt-J — used on a Mac to produce the Greek letter, “delta,” which is used as a mathematical image for change. 

We have been on this atmosphere of academia and making an attempt new issues in the best way that college students do,” Unger-Hamilton recalled, “and I think it was just time for us to do this and have no pressure that the band needed to be successful in any way. Our main focus was our studies. By the time we graduated, it became clear we had a good shot at making a living with the band, and we had some interest from labels and such so it worked out really well for us.” 

They discovered widespread musical floor by way of the method of taking part in music collectively. “We all had quite different musical backgrounds when we arrived at Leeds,” stated Unger-Hamilton. “We all brought something different to the table and educated each other, whether it was a classical piano piece or a beat from a metal song. We were educating each other but almost showing off to each other, too.” 

Unger-Hamilton recollects their beginning yr — 2007 — as an ungainly time in music. Streaming wasn’t but fashionable and CD gross sales have been on the decline. 

But it was additionally a easier time, he stated. “Sometimes having all of the music at your fingertips isn’t the very best. I most likely hear to much less music now than I did again then as a result of again then, if you invested cash in it, you had to give it a good hear. Now a new album would possibly come out that I may need purchased 10 years in the past. Maybe if I spent 10 or 15 kilos on it, I felt this want to get my cash’s value out of it and I may need a few listens for the album to reveal itself to me. I feel all of us now give music much less of a probability than we used to.” 

Considering the lowered urge for food for recorded music, he feels lucky that alt-J gained the 2012 Mercury Prize for his or her debut album, An Awesome Wave. The award was a game-changer for the group. “We went from complete obscurity to winning the Mercury Prize, playing concerts and going some way to breaking America. That was an incredible year for us,” stated Unger-Hamilton.

Fortunately that they had already developed a tight reside present, though, within the intense spherical of touring that adopted, they misplaced a member. Sainsbury left the band in 2014 as a result of he wished to spend extra time at dwelling, leaving the others to proceed as a trio.

“Physical album sales are down but ticket sales in general are up. That’s where everyone is focusing right now,” he stated. “Back within the day, you made an album and you possibly can sit again and watch the cash come in, whereas now you’ve got to be on the market each night time travelling and taking part in, which is a lot of enjoyable. It’s an incredible job, heaps of exhausting work however we’re effectively rewarded so I’m not complaining about it for a second. 

“It’s enjoyable to be up there in entrance of a crowd and it’s enjoyable to journey the world and there are such a lot of locations we have now but to go. So lengthy as there are new issues to uncover, I’ll all the time get pleasure from it,” he added. 


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