(September 5, 2007)
Q: Hello Alphaspin, how are you today?
A: Feeling good thanks, Koen although still a little miffed that we’ve been robbed of our summer here in England….
Q: Can you give a short introduction of who you are and where you’re from?
A: We’re a four piece band based in London. Centred largely around a piano we’re the usual drum, bass and guitar line up.
Q: Where does the name “Alphaspin” come from?
A: We were thinking about ‘Spincycle’ but I think that had gone, so we decided to gel a couple of words that we liked together to make an original word. Spin we stuck with and Alpha gave the impression of ‘huge’ so we stuck that in front. Someone suggested Alphacough, but we thought that wouldn’t go down too well.
Q: Who would you consider the biggest influences on your song writing & sound?
A: Songwriting-wise, I think we look to some of the classic tune-smiths such as Neil Finn (Crowded House), Karl Wallinger (World Party) not forgetting Mr McCartney of course. It’s not always down to individuals though. A one-hit-wonder can make just as much an impression on us as a host of songs by the same person. It’s something to do with interesting chord progressions and the chemistry they have that makes a tune what it is. Add well thought through words and you’ve got a song. We simply try to find a combination that makes the listener think ‘ooh – now that’s interesting’. Not easily done of course. Sound-wise, we try not to introduce too many electronics. Through The Solar Waves was recorded on a 60s EMI desk, so it seemed appropriate to stick to grass roots when recording it.
Q: Correct me if I’m wrong, but so far, you guys released 3 CDs right? Two EPs and one full-length album, “Through The Solar Waves”? (It’s a great record, very good songs)
A: Thanks for the kind words, Koen, much appreciated. Well, ‘released’ is quite a strong word with respect to the first two. The first one doesn’t even have a name(!) – just a demo compilation recorded in a shed in Farnham just outside of London in a day. The second one, named Vapour Trail, was a more professional stab at recording. It’s got 5 or so songs, two of which made it onto TTSW. It certainly paid off when it came to getting interest from producers. We remain proud of the remaining songs from the EPs, but they just didn’t seem to fit in with the other songs chosen for the full length record.
Q: Did releasing a full-length album change anything for the band, and if so, how did it change it?
A: It’s certainly taken the band into an area where we’re surrounded by other bands on the brink of something big. We generally sell albums when we play, so, although it hasn’t been marketed by a big label yet, it has proven popular with those who’ve got a copy. A decent recording gives a decent impression. Some folks can’t see the woods for the trees, in other words, they can’t tell a good song from a bad recording, so it’s imperative to record as well as possible.
Q: In the process of making and producing the album, you guys worked with some big names, and later you opened for The Who at Knebworth. How would you describe those experiences?
A: They were exciting. We’ve been privileged to have worked with Ian Grimble who produced the album having worked with the likes of Travis, Texas, Echobelly to name a few. Ian’s still a great friend of the band – you get close when you’re recording for a month. Much to discuss, talk and laugh about. The album also featured the drumming skills of Luke Bullen – drummer (and boyfriend) of KT Tunstall and Grand Drive’s Julian Wilson. Luke’s a sweet guy with unbelievable timing. We’d ask him to adjust something somewhere in a song and he’d repeat the whole thing again beat for beat and drop in the adjustment. I think he made two mistakes in the whole session. It was only after the album was completed that we joined up with Jim Smith who emulates much of what Luke played and adds his own spin (pardon the pun) too. Julian was much the same. He rocked up with a Hammond and layered the tracks with very little rehearsal. The Knebworth show was an impressive experience too. We were assigned a show producer whose team looked after us extremely well. We then got up there, with very little to lose, and rocked it up. As you know, there’s a full write up by Woz here http://blog.myspace.com/alphaspin as well as a video of our encore song.
Q: Are there any plans for another release in the (near) future?
A: It’s really a question of cash. TTSW cost quite a bit of it to make, so we’re still having to recoup costs for it. We’re busy writing songs at the moment and have a host of material that didn’t feel right to be included on that particular album which should be recorded. It’s a case of – do we wait to get signed in the hope that they’ll fund a new project, or do we produce a record of slightly less quality. Tough one to answer really – especially given the quality one can now produce in a home studio. Either way, we promise to come up with something at some point in the near future.
Q: What are your current goals with the band, and what are your plans to achieve these goals?
A: First and foremost, the band is a vehicle that the four of us enjoy being in – a hobby in other words. Some people go to art classes, some spend their evenings drinking their lives away in pubs, where as we get together once a week (at the most) in a rehearsal studio and jam. I’d say of the five hours we have there, two hours are spent chatting, one hour experimenting and the other two getting some decent rehearsing for a forthcoming performance. We all have day jobs, so we’re not totally relying on the band for income. Needless to say, we do take the band seriously and would embark on a full time career with Alphaspin if we were offered a break. We perform at least once a month around London and festivals outside of town. At each of these we hand out songs for free, so the word should be getting around that we exist!
Q: Are there any other interesting developments going on in Alphaspin’s career?
A: We’ve had the usual ‘close shave’ moments – moments where we thought ‘right guys, that’s it – I think we’re there’ – only for it not to quite gather momentum. Many bands have them and many don’t benefit from them. We had a guy (can’t mention his name) from a UK talent TV show who’s a big mover in the industry who showed more than a little interest in the band, but I think he’s perhaps more interested in the songwriting than the band as a unit. Ash was also fortunate to spend some time at Buenos Aires airport with Nick Seymour of Crowded House, where he dispatched an album. Hard to tell with everyone being so busy and playing their cards so close to their chests. Interestingly enough though, I think it’s the US that enjoy the songs the most. We’ve had kind offers to stay in LA and to do the circuit out there, but it’s difficult to do that without something solid at the other end. Hope springs eternal though. After all, as far as a record company is concerned, they’re after a good product and that’s exactly what we think we have.
Q: What website(s) can people visit to get more information about Alphaspin?
A: I think the first place to visit would be our myspace page – http://www.myspace.com/alphaspin, although www.alphaspin.com exists but is soon to be renovated.
Q: If you could pick any one band or artist that you could tour with, who would it be? And why?
A: The Feeling springs to mind. Their vibe is quite similar to ours, although I think ours is slightly less poppy. They have a grand following now though which we’d love to tap into. We get so disappointed when we see some of the support acts that are chosen in the UK with their monosyllabic tunes and stage shows. The crowd deserve better. Funnily enough, Woz met the Feeling the other day so it may still happen.
Q: Okay, a few random questions now
Q: Day or night?
A: Night of course – you’re generally laughing, drinking, playing or sleeping – all of which are appealing.
Q: Club venue or Arena venue?
A: Arena – the bigger the place, the better the sound quality and the more space you have to move about. You’d hope to play to a bigger mob too of course….
Q: CDs or digital music?
A: CDs as digital music is bringing down the concept of an album which we’re firm believers in. The day one can play digital music of choice on a car stereo is going to be a sad day. The ‘journey’ will be lost…..
Q: Okay, last question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally and illegally?
A: Um. Legally – great. Illegally – not as great, although you’re really never going to curb it. Unless you actually make music, it’s probably difficult to appreciate the hard work that goes into getting a track done. If everyone made music, we’d be able to trade with each other – now there’s a concept….
Thanks you for taking the time for this Alphaspin, it was a pleasure talking to you