Alphabeat are back better than ever before, and tomorrow release their new album, ‘Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’. Lisa and Dan had a chance to chat with half of Alphabeat, specifically Stine, Anders SG, and Anders B, about the new album, their music, and what exactly is cool these days.
Lisa – Welcome back! Now we talked to you guys in June, and back then you had just released ‘Shadows’, and you did the show at Oslo, after a last minute venue change…but Oslo was packed! Were you surprised about that? Was it exciting?
Anders SG – It was very exciting!
Stine – It was a magical night for us, it had been a hectic day, venue change, really bad soundcheck, I was really nervous about that gig, but seeing that room, filled with people, and just a buzzing energy…and people singing along to tracks that we weren’t even sure that we’d play…
Anders B – It was quite an emotional night for us, actually, just being back in London, so many enthusiastic audience members, it was a crazy experience. Everything that happened on stage, that was so genuine. It was how we felt about it.
Lisa – Yes! My strongest memory of it was seeing you guys smiling the whole way through. And it was real, you tell that you guys were completely in your element!
Stine – No filter!
Anders B – And it was SO SWEATY.
Lisa – So what’s been the reception for the single, ‘I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’? What’s the response been like?
Stine – It’s very good – especially in Denmark, as that’s the only place it’s been promoted on radio so far, and we get people over 30 who can relate to the lyrics, which is super fun, as that’s what we were aiming for when we wrote it, we thought, “there must be other people who know what we’re talking about”.
Lisa – EXACTLY. Like, I’m here with my finger on the pulse, and my kids are like, Just. Don’t. Do. That. Mum. Just stop. Don’t try and be gansta Mum. It’s not a happening thing…
Anders B – That’s the thing – when you do something and you’re not sure how it’s going to go…that’s the sentiment of the song. Being cool is not trying to do it that way…
Stine – If you’re not sure what’s cool, then don’t try to do it.
Lisa – Well chances are you’re accidentally being cool when you’re not trying anyway.
Anders B – That *IS* cool. Essentially. Being yourself.
Lisa – Your new album’s out this Friday, I’ve listened to it three times already – I think I know what’s *MY* favourite, but what’s each of your favourite song on the album?
Anders SG – I would have to say ‘The Answer’. It’s a special song to me. I think it takes its time to develop over the full length of the track in a nice natural way. We really like the song, but before we finished it we felt like it needed something so we made up our own gospel-style backing vocal. It just finished the track and made it a record for us.
Stine – I’m really happy with all the songs, so it’s really difficult.
Lisa – That’s a cop-out answer!
Stine – I think I’m going to go with ‘Back Of My Bike’.
(everyone – Oooh)
Lisa – Do you like getting drunk on the back of your bike?
Stine – I do! I’ve done it a lot of times in my life.
Lisa – Are we talking about a pushbike or a motorbike?
Stine – We’re talking about an old-style bicycle, this is a really common thing in Copenhagen, ride your bikes everywhere, and when you move to Copenhagen when you’re 18 years old, and everything is new and fresh – you get on your bike and ride, and go out into the night and you’re not sure what’s going to happen! I think it’s such an old-school kind of song that we’ve done.
Lisa – So long as you know where your bike is at the end of the night…
Stine – You don’t always know that. But then you find a new one…
Anders B – It’s kinda like one big family with bikes in Copenhagen – we exchange owners all the time…I mean…we obviously don’t take other people’s bikes…
Anders SG – …and we don’t encourage drunk riding…
Lisa – no no edit that piece out.
Dan – I lived in France one summer, and we used to cycle around everywhere, and there was one time I was absolutely trashed on a bike, and I was holding a glass of wine and fell off – but the fun part of the story is that I didn’t spill the wine! (everyone laughs)
Stine – But that’s got such an Alphabeat core to it, that song, it’s got that freedom, being carefree, letting go your practical worries. Heading out into the night.
Lisa – And I’m glad you came up with that answer!
What about you Anders (B) – you’re not getting out of this!
Anders B – I’ll go for ‘Sometimes’. It’s in the middle of the album, but it’s the first song we did. Anders and I had been working on some music, and I thought, this song, I could really hear it as an Alphabeat track. And at this point, we really hadn’t seen each other for five years. So we got Stine in the studio, I was playing guitar, these guys were singing, and it was magic. It sounds like Alphabeat, but fresher, newer in a way. That’s a special song to me. (Anders SG – and me too). Now – we want to hear what’s your favourite song!
Lisa – mine? ‘Sing A Song’! (everyone – Yeah!!) Because it’s autobiographical, and I’ve listened to interviews you’ve done and I thought, you could have sung that song to them, and it would have answered every question they had.
Anders B – It’s much easier, it’s done in 3 minutes and there’s no wondering what to say.
Lisa – “Here it is!”
Anders SG – Exactly!
Stine – We really like that too. It feels really good for us too to be at a place in our lives and careers where we’re able to write that kind of stuff, we get moved by it ourselves when we sing it. Everything in it is true.
Lisa – What’s your favourite song from the new album to sing live?
Anders B – We don’t really know yet! On Sunday, after the album comes out, we are doing a radio special in Denmark where we’re playing the whole album, live on radio. We’ll call you afterwards and tell you what our favourite is!
Anders SG – It’s been the transition of taking these songs from the studio into the rehearsal space, it’s been pretty easy.
Stine – It’s a band album!
Anders SG – and the core of the songs, the structure of the songs, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure the basics of the songs was solid and strong.
Anders B – We’ve been playing ‘Goldmine’ all summer too.
Stine – We decided to play ‘Goldmine’ (at festivals and concerts) over the summer, because it’s got this great energy, and it went down so well.
Anders B – We get to be rock stars!
Stine – And I’m playing pink cowbells!
Lisa – I really like that you’ve kept that live aspect to the album as well, you’ve not edited out the laughs, other little noises, it just feels real. The rawness makes it more perfect than if you’d made it slick.
Anders B – I’m glad you said that! We focused on that, we always talk about how the six of us have a special vibe, the chemistry, there’s something there. And we wanted to work out how to put that into the songs. And we realised by leaving by not editing that stuff out, it gives it a whole other layer. If Stine makes a good take, you can hear us saying “yeah” and so on.
Lisa – I was listening to ‘Sometimes’ this morning and it reminded me of something, and it came to me. There’s a song called ‘Mighty Quinn’ by Manfred Mann, and it reminds me of that.
Alphabeat – We’ll check that out! Is it 70s stuff?
Lisa – Sixties – I think it’s 1963 or something. And then in ‘Now You Know’, there’s some harmonising that’s a bit like The Beatles…
Alphabeat – YESSS thanks for that!
Lisa – So Mighty Quinn was accidental, but The Beatles part, was that deliberate?
Anders B – That’s probably the one band…I know I’m not the only person on earth who is going to say this…but the one band that’s been with me since I’ve been a small boy. Their music has become an intuitively how I approach music. If I listen to say Kanye West, I like his style but it’s more like, I listen to it with my head – The Beatles I listen to with my heart. There were some Beatles references on our very first album, but the harmonising in ‘Now You Know’, that was a little nod to them.
Lisa – Who else has influenced your music do you think?
Stine – We’ve not talked about references this album, like the previous two albums we decided we wanted this or that kind of sound. This time we didn’t do that, we’ve very much in our guts been trying to just find the good song, the quality song.
Anders SG – We’ve been doing country stuff this time around, and of course all the really great country stuff we know and love, and then we realised when we were making this album, we realised it’s a thing these days, so we checked out a few of the pop artists who are doing country. Maybe not to our taste, but some of it is really great. It’s interesting to listen to what other artists are doing.
Stine – I like Kasey Musgraves. I love her. I’m really into Miley Cyrus as well.
Anders SG – I love Harry Styles’ stuff as well.
Anders B – I love music from the 60s and 70s. ‘Shadows’ is a take on Motown, like the songs by the Four Tops. And The Four Tops did this thing where the song might be in a minor key, but it’s upbeat lyrics. Our music is predominately major keys but I think if you can make a song in a minor chord, that makes you happy…it’s a funny balance.
Lisa – Because minor key songs are meant to make you cry aren’t they!
Anders SG – Even the lyrics, like ‘Fascination’, it’s all out there – the music, the lyrics – it’s all makes you feel happy – but this has a different feel – but somehow at the same time it makes you feel uplifted.
Lisa – Now I put the word out there that we were talking to you, and of course, we got a great response. We were talking about country artists – Jedward ask, have you listened to ‘Paper Rings’ by Taylor Swift (Dan – it’s on her new album) because it’s got a really Alphabeat vibe! (Alphabeat – no! We need to listen to it! *Anders SG adds it to his list on his phone*). Have any artists come up to you and said, “we’ve been inspired by you, you’re why we started”.
Anders B – I could mention a couple that people in the UK haven’t heard of…
Lisa – Taylor Swift clearly has been!
Anders SG – We were lucky to have songs 10 years ago that were really big, they got us a huge audience. So people who are 5-10 years younger than us, making music now; we’re not the first they’ll mention when asked, but a lot of them – they’ve heard our music of course – it’s a part of what they were listening to at the time – but that’s a funny feeling, it’s nice.
Anders B – we’ve been to parties where quite cool musicians have had a few and they’ll come up to us – like we were at the Danish Grammys, and a really cool guy, one of the top guys, with the coolest and best selling track of the year – he came up to us and said ‘Fascination’ was what made him come out of his shell, that made him feel it was alright to step out on the dance floor and just go for it. It was a very special song to him. We’ve had that happen a lot of times.
Lisa – It’s sad that they have to get drunk to admit that they like your music. But you know – so I think that means you guys are really cool.
Okay – Blink, on Twitter, asks when are you going do a US tour? I mean you’ve done SXSW…
Anders B – I keep asking this too! We’ve actually only played one normal show, we’ve done SXSW a couple of times, but we did one show in New York, a lot of years ago, and it was fantastic. So we want to do that.
Anders SG – if they did away with working permits, then yes!
Dan – So – my friend Gareth loves you guys, and he forced me to go to the front of your show at Oslo, and as you can see I’m 6 foot 3 so I blocked half the audience – his question is, who do you love most of British artists? Obviously we know you love The Beatles, but you’re not allowed to say that! Has there been any British artists that have caught your eye?
Anders SG – when we were younger we connected as a band with The Human League and so on.
Anders B – when we came to London, we realised we’d made our music in the right place at the right time. There were other artists such as Lily Allen, and Mika, who were doing organic quirky pop stuff. We found we were a part of a scene, which was something we’d never tried before.
Stine – And LaRoux, we really liked her.
Anders SG – And there were bands like Hot Chip, that we discovered by living in London. There were so many artists we were into at that point.
Anders B – There’s always great music coming out of here.