Truth: Australian sextet Alpine have created the summer’s breeziest and most enjoyable album with Yuck (a title that also fully conveys their sense of fun in a take-me-serious music world). If you’re not acquainted with Foolish yet – or indeed their earlier jams like Gasoline – you need to immediately, as the brilliant meeting of two vocalists, Phoebe Baker and Lou James, gives them a smoothness few other bands can boast of. We sat down with Phoebe to chat all things Yuck ahead of its worldwide release.
So. What makes Alpine say ‘Yuck’? (Don’t say questions like these…)
Hah. What questions shall I not say? As for what’s yuck… well apart from being a great word to say with vigour, yuck seems to symbolise all those moments in life where you feel wrapped up in awkwardness or a grotesque feeling of negativity. I guess yuck can be heavy or light, on the album it definitely represents both emotions.
The lead single, Foolish. An incredible song. Where did it stem from?
Foolish is one of those lighter ‘yuck’ examples. It’s a song about getting together with an ex (YUCK!), though take from it what you will. Instrumentally it feels most inspired by the wonderful music of Milton Nascimento and Caetano Veloso. I think we went into this song with a real ‘pop’ intention, so it felt breezy and joyous to write, lyrically its unafraid to be silly which is a liberating feeling when writing.
There are six of you in the band, so how does the writing process work?
It’s pretty democratic at the moment. Though the initial fathers of the sound are more so Christian and Tim, Lou and I write lyrics, melody and instrumental bits and bobs. We all pitch in though, through jamming together and via internet ‘pass the music parcel’.
Is it quite daunting having to initially share your personal writing with five other people?
At first it was, it’s a very vulnerable feeling to show others what you’ve written, but the more we’ve gotten to know each other the easier it has become. Its pretty special really. I highly recommend it to anybody.
How do you deal with disagreements, though?
Space and time. Luckily there is enough of us in the band, so that if we are upset with one person we can go and vent with another. Usually it’s pretty petty stuff, but touring is intense, such close quarters for a month or two and it really exaggerates things.
You share the vocals with Lou – how do you decide the split?
It just falls into place. It’s just whatever we decide works for the song, and it depends on what we’ve each written. On this album you can hear our individual voices much more than the last. Some songs will have more of me and some more of Lou. You’ll have to listen and guess who’s who!
Gasoline was a smash. How has the band evolved since then?
I think we are much more confident to be ourselves, and that’s probably because we’ve sort of figured out a band equilibrium. We know what to expect more which enables us to manage ourselves better. May sound pretty boring but it’s a revelation for us.
Did you have any influences for this record? Damn Baby has a brilliant neo-soul vibe…
Six people each with many different favourites, it’s a hard one to narrow down. We were listening to mostly tropicália music and 90s hip-hop before we wrote this album.
What are you all listening to these days? Might we hear a cover of something soon?
Lou’s listening a lot to St Vincent’s most recent album. I’m listening to chimurenga music on YouTube, trying to track down a track I used to play on repeat on an Encyclopaedia Britannica CD back when I was wee. Ryan will be listening to Bruce Springsteen in some garage somewhere, Tim maybe ‘Starless and Bible Black by Stan Tracey in his ute (it’s gorgeous – song and car). Phil will be dancing to Death Cab. Christian will be getting down to some Bach.
What’s next for Alpine? Are you popping over to the UK any time soon?
We have no idea, but touring definitely and – ohmygosh – we would love to come to the UK asap. All but one of us have British passports!
Yuck by Alpine can be ordered here.