'An Awesome Wave' band talk about their surprising success
David Renshaw

11:19 5th July 2012

More about:

Alt-J  are something of an anomaly. They're a new British band who are genuinely popular, with their album even outselling the likes of Jessie J in its week of release.

We caught up with drummer Thom Green to discover just what went into the making of 'An Awesome Wave' and to find out what it's like to accidentally rumble the Girls Aloud reunion...
How have you found the reception to your debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’?

It’s been brilliant, we’re really pleased. The album did well in its first week and we were hoping that people would just like it but it did way better than we expected. I think word of mouth has been key, lots of people are discovering it through friends and we’re finding that lots of people know the words to all of the songs when we play live too. 
What does an Alt-J singalong sound like? It can’t be like most bands…
Haha, no. Lots of people think they know the words but they really don’t. 

Your album reached the Top Twenty when it was released in May. How did you celebrate that success?
We were actually on tour the night we found out. We couldn’t really celebrate properly until we got back. We had a very civilised meal with our label though, which was nice. 
The album chart is not a place you generally find albums like ‘An Awesome Wave’ is it?
We are part of the chart, which is strange. Sigur Ros and Regina Spektor had albums out that week and we consider ourselves to be from the same world as them. We were watching the album charts update on our iPhones and It was bizarre. We sold more albums than Jessie J that week which is very funny. 

‘Tesselate’ is the new single. Can you tell us a little bit about that song?
Well, obviously, in maths tessellating is when things fit together and the song is basically about sex. We wrote the song in Leeds and it started when I was trying to emulate a Deftones style drum beat actually. We always knew where the track was going to go but our producer helped us strip things away and create a lot more space - it’s almost got a hip-hop feel to it in places. 

The band recently caused something of a kerfuffle on Twitter when you revealed that you were recording in the same studios as Girls Aloud. Can you explain what happened there?
Yeah, we had no idea that they had split up and were getting back together so when we saw them we just though, ‘cool, that’s Girls Aloud’ and told our followers on Twitter. Paparazzi then turned up immediately, hiding around the corner and then the studio basically b*llocked us for revealing the news. Then Girls Aloud fans on Twitter got really p*ssed off, telling us that we had made the news up for attention.  I just thought it was funny, there were four blacked out Land Rovers parked outside the studio all day! It was a bit obvious. 
You mentioned that people are discovering Alt-J through their friends. What do you think it is people like about the band?
I think the fact that the music is quite accessible - it’s essentially pop music. We get a lot of young people coming to see us but then older people too. It’s unique too and I think there’s a good balance of interesting sounds and more simple ideas. It’s not too avant-garde and complicated. We wanted to be as interesting as possible and want every part of each song to have merit and I think that focus comes across well. 
You recently played at the Leeds University graduation ball. How was that? As drunken as we imagine?
That was amazing. We all graduated from Leeds a few years ago and so it was weird to be asked to play. There was a lot of people there and they were well up for it. The atmosphere was great and we got to wander around after our gig which was surreal, everyone was dressed in tuxedos and gowns. 
Alt-J have cited Maurice Sendak as an influence. How did you react to his death earlier this year?

Joe, our singer, is a huge fan of Where The Wild Things are and that definitely inspired ‘Breezeblocks’. I mean, he wasn’t upset at the news but it was very sad. It was weird timing actually and definitely gave the single more significance when it was released. 

Alt-J's debut album 'An Awesome Wave' is out now.

More about:

Photo: WENN.com