Vocalist Lou James of Alpine discusses the indie pop act’s experiences from Melbourne’s talk of the town to international interest.
When singer Lou James describes the band name muse Switzerland as “lush and surreal,” she could have also used the description to represent the band’s trajectory so far. Thanks to coverage on influential Australian radio station Triple J and an enthusiastic live response, Alpine has expanded beyond curiosity in just native Australia.
Before critical exposure, local shows in tiny venues permeated the itinerary. When Alpine were being seen by the manager and record label for the first time, the band took a left turn in the stage design mind frame by adorning the stage with unlikely props such as “a fake statue of a cherub boy” and hula hoops. Singer Phoebe Baker was so nervous she even forgot drummer Phil Tucker’s name.
Since then, concerts have grown into a much more confident avenue, and the sophisticated and slick nature of Alpine’s brand of pop can only compliment the performances. Performing at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Sydney this year was a particular highlight, and according to James, the festival owners admitted to Alpine “it was the biggest crowd that stage has ever had.”
Singers Lou James and Phoebe Baker met as teenagers at boarding school, and are also the only females in the group. Having four men and only two women in the band could become tumultuous, but for James it’s “like having four brothers.”
Rather than taking a nostalgic look back, James describes the lyrics as an influence from current everyday life. “I guess it’s as if we’ve ripped a page from our journals… there are pretty personal themes but are decorated in our style of pop.” Baker previously described a similar connection by commenting on A is for Alpine as having “heavier subject matter” than the EP Zurich, which was released in 2010.
Alpine’s first full-length studio album A is for Alpine is available starting May 21 in North America via Votiv Records, but the album already reached number one in the Australian iTunes album chart when released in the country last year. A is for Alpine received overt praise for its female duo harmonies and catchy melodies, which LA Weekly described as some of the most engaging female/male dual harmonizing heard in recent epochs.”
Alpine has played at the massive SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas two years in a row, and this year’s crowd was already enthralled, even without the record being released yet. Lou James felt that even though it can feel “overwhelming and chaotic,” the nonstop onslaught of both music and dedicated music fans was also “electric and exciting.” This June, tour dates supporting Crystal Fighters will allow the band to venture into uncharted American territory.
As if Alpine’s gig schedule isn’t full enough, there’s also regular job duties back home. Though most people wouldn’t be in a career very long after requesting a month at a time off, James says the group’s jobs allow them to take the necessary time off to tour. When they are working normal jobs, it’s saving time for the next onslaught of gigs. It’s all part of the normality for a rising pop group North America will be hearing much more about.
Alpine’s album A is for Alpine is now available, and tour dates are listed below.
Alpine North American Tour Dates
6/1 The Casbah- San Diego
6/4 El Rey Theatre- Los Angeles
6/5 Great American Music Hall- San Francisco
6/7 Holocene- Portland
6/8 The Electric Owl- Vancouver
6/9 The Crocodile- Seattle
6/11 Urban Lounge- Salt Lake City
6/12 Larimer Lounge- Denver
6/14 Lincoln Hall- Chicago
6/15 The Hoxton- Toronto
6/17 SAT- Montreal
6/18 The Sinclair- Cambridge
6/19 Webster Hall- New York City
Connect with Alternative Music Examiner on Facebook!