Monday, March 19, 2012

Alphabeat Interview: "Vacation" and the New Record

Alphabeat's new single "Vacation" launched a week ago today, and with great pleasure, I had the chance to chat with the band about their new single and record only days later.  Alphabeat's self titled debut in 2007 showed the world their pop craftsmanship with the tracks "Fascination" and "What Is Happening".  Their track "Boyfriend", which was re-produced as a new, more synth laden song, emerged as the new direction of the band.  2009 saw the release of The Spell, which marked a new era for Alphabeat-- a style more congruent with Ace of Base than modern pop-rock.  With their ever-evolving sound, the past 3 years have left fans wondering what form they would return in for their follow up record, and with the release of "Vacation", it seems to indicate a bright and fun 70s/80s pop influence.

I feel quite lucky these days getting a chance to interview some more of my absolute favorite musicians.  Alphabeat seem to be just as cool and bubbly as their stage presence suggests.  It also makes life easier when a group is willing to speak English for an interview (their native tongue is Danish)-- and for that, Alphabeat, I thank you.  Read on for some insight into the new Alphabeat record.

The Synth Symp: Hi Alphabeat! Thank you for chatting with me. Your new single "Vacation" has a great 80s vibe to it, which nicely contrasts your early 90s dance style of the last record. Is this theme consistent on the new record? Are there any lyrical themes?
Alphabeat: We didn't really talk about the direction of the new record before we started writing it as we didn't want too many rules and restrictions before having written any songs -but when we listened to demos we were surprised that everything fitted quite well with each other. We knew that we wanted to produce the songs with more live instruments and energy. We have a great love for songs and sounds of the 80s but there are also songs influenced by 70s disco.

TSS: What was the writing process of the new record like? Are these songs written from touring, or made up on your own, or written in practice together?
Alphabeat: We usually write individually but most of the production is done as a group.

TSS: The new record is recorded and produced by Alphabeat. What is the time like in the studio? What is producing your own work like?
Alphabeat: It's very relaxed. We've got our own studio so there is no stress and that really suits us well. We learned a lot about recording and producing and we are constantly expanding our list of studio gear. There's good and bad sides to writing/recording/producing everything. Sometimes you need a "fresh ear" to clean things up in a session. When you work with you own music for 10 hours a day, every day, you sometimes lack a broad look of things.

TSS: What has changed about the band since "The Spell" was released? What makes the new record different?
Alphabeat: We have learned how difficult it is to convert a programmed and synthetic record into a version we can play as a band with live drums for touring. We've managed to do it but it takes a lot of work. The "This Is Alphabeat" wasn't heavily synthesized but we started working more with synths on "The Spell" and that is definitely something we have brought into producing the new album, though we focus more on analog synths now. We've have recorded live drums on the new album and we often trigger them with samples to get some more punch but still maintaining the dynamic groove of our drummer. To put it very simple - we have tried to combine the organic sound of "This Is Alphabeat" with the synthetic sound of "The Spell".

TSS: Do you have a favorite track on the new record? What can you tell us about that track?
Alphabeat: It's difficult to say at this stage as i'm very exited about all the songs!

TSS: What was your favorite moment touring over the past couple years?
Alphabeat: There has been so many - We played a gig in New York about a year and a half ago. We didn't really advertise it much but we had just played at SXSW so we thought it would be fun to set up a gig in our favorite city. It was completely sold out and people knew every word to every song we played. We didn't expect that at all. We were all smiles for a long time after that.

TSS: Who are some of your influences right now?
Alphabeat: To name a few - Cindy Lauper, Fleetwood Mac, Whitney Houston, Stock Aitken Waterman, Phil Spector, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Madonna, The Bangles, Prince.

TSS: Do you have a tour planned to support the new record? I'd love to see you guys play in the US this year.
Alphabeat: We would absolutely love to go to the US to play some gigs again. We have loads of danish dates this summer but we are working on getting gigs outside Denmark as we speak!

TSS: Thanks for your time, Alphabeat.
Alphabeat: You're very welcome!

Be sure to keep an eye out for the new Alphabeat record coming this summer, and make sure you buy the new single on your local iTunes store (Link here [Danish link, hopefully works internationally]) and follow Alphabeat on Twitter!

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