Alterkicks are the new Scouse spice to hit the nation. Forget the Zutons, they’re old news. Liverpool has much more to offer, and the Alterkicks are top of the city’s music menu.
From bizarre cannibal hitch hiking tales to tingling ghost songs, the Alterkicks have a fine selection of music coloured with often eccentric lyrics. But they are not fresh out the garage set-up. It has taken three years for this five-man band to perfect their sound and step out of Scouserville onto the UK stage with a record contract and a solid reputation behind them.
Rebecca Geach popped down to the London Forum, where The Automatic supported by Alterkicks, Jack Turner and Viva Machine, were playing their last tour date, to catch up with the band.
Where did the name Alterkicks come from?
An 8 hour conversation with Mike’s (Mike Oates-guitar) sister’s boyfriend. He was a tarot card dealer, and told us after a long meditation that we had to be called the Alterkicks.
Which other bands do you most look up to?
We admire bands such as the Smiths and Radiohead who have gone against the grade to be original.
Where do your songs come from?
Our music originates from each of our individual personalities really. Martin (Martin Stilwell-vocals) writes most of the lyrics, but we are all very good at fulfilling our roles as musicians. Therefore when we play, we play with instinct. We don’t discuss it, it just comes. We miss composing at the moment because we’ve been on such a long tour. We’re looking forward to getting back home and coming up with some new stuff.
As the years go by and you’re becoming more recognised is it getting harder to come up with new musical material and to maintain your originality?
No, actually it’s getting easier. We’ve not been around long enough to start losing our edge, so we’re still very musically virile. It’s just hard work recording-it takes a long time!
What’s the most annoying thing about becoming increasingly well-known?
We hate the way journalists keep comparing us to other bands such as the Zutons. Just because we come from the same city doesn’t mean we sound like them. It gives no credit to our originality and is lazy journalism.
What are your audiences like and where are the best places you’ve played so far?
We’ve had a good reaction from most of our audiences, and are finding now that we have a following which keeps growing as the word about us spreads. We see the same faces popping up over and over again. We had a good gig in Cambridge and a fantastic one in London with Scarlet. Perhaps the best though was one we recently played in Glasgow. We played well and the Scots were really up for it. We were beaming afterwards.
How and when did you get recognised and signed up?
There was a lot of hype for one and a half years. Our first big gig was the Manchester Academy Unsigned. There were a lot of proud handshakes after that. It really hit us though after we played in the Zanzibar in Liverpool with some other bands about a year and a half ago. The place was packed out and people were really excited. We were finally signed up four months ago with B-Unique Records. They saw us one day and signed us up the next.
What’s it like touring with The Automatic?
It’s great. They’re lovely boys and a genuinely very good band, and they’re especially powerful when they play live.
So what’s your ultimate goal as a band and as musicians?
We want to make good music which we’re personally proud of, not for critical acclaim. We’re just doing it because we enjoy it. We can’t predict if anyone else will like it…Also…we’d like to bring about the Big Crunch with the C note of course. Then a new universe will be formed, and the next generation will have to create new music…
Okay guys. Whatever you say!
Alterkicks’ single On Holiday is out 13 November on B Unique records and the album should be out next spring. The Alterkicks are: Martin Stilwell (vocals), Mike Oates (guitar), Gareth Padfield (guitar), Mark Yari-Gerrard (bass) and Oliver Hughes (drums).