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Sunday, 7 October 2012

In conversation with Altered Sky

So how are things with you guys? What are you all up to today?

We’re good thanks! We’ve been in the studio for the past couple of days working on some brand new demos, so today we’re just chilling out, rehearsal tonight though!

As usual there's going to be people reading this who don't know who you are, so lets get that out of the way and in your own words fill us in on how you all met and the origins of Altered Sky?

I suppose it started because Ana (vocals) had been writing her own material for years but had no band to record/play with. We were all friends of friends I suppose. Ana knew Amy (drums+vocals) and Ross (bass) and Ross knew Rich and Neil (guitarists). Then we got together for an initial rehearsal, ended up hitting it off, wrote more songs together that we enjoyed and took it from there!

I'm just listening to your 'In This World' mini album and you must be very pleased with it?
As débuts go it's certainly hits the ground running, and sets the bar high for your peers in the genre. Is it giving you all a warm glow?

Very pleased!
After having been gigging/writing for a year or so, it was great to have a nice, polished record to give to our fans at the time. Bruce (Rintoul, producer at LoFi Studios) was great to work with and we really learned a lot from him: from the process of tracking different instruments and vocals to his unhealthy obsession with Sainsbury’s…

You are all pretty young and the musicianship, song-writing and production is all very accomplished.
Has it been a steep learning curve for you from forming to getting to this stage? How much help, if any have you had along the way?

I feel we’re constantly learning and growing as a band. I can look back and see a definite improvement today from previous gigs and recording sessions. There’s still lots to learn, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. We’re entirely self-managed so any help we’ve had I think has come from the people we directly work with while gigging/recording. There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself with professional people and absorbing their knowledge and experience.

I was looking at your very professional website, and unlike a lot of bands who are at the level of being unsigned and trying to make a mark on the world you seem to be trying hard to cover all the angles with a solid approach to promoting yourselves.
It's as if from the word go you are emulating bands who are already successful with your own solid videos, a wide range of merch and a similar internet presence. Is this deliberate? Is the idea to act like a successful band and therefore you will be perceived as one? (That's a sound move if it is the intent)

We decided a long time ago that if we wanted to be treated professionally (i.e. paid!), we’d need to look and act as professionally as we could. This doesn’t mean wearing suits and being boring, more that we always make sure we’re organised, arrive to gigs on time, generally treat people with respect and try and make friends wherever we can.
It sounds cynical but the merch stall is our best way of making money, so we aim to make it as attractive as possible, with lots of things for sale in lots of bright colours! It’s also where we hang out at the show, the best place for us to meet fans in person.
As for the website, I (Rich) built it myself after realising how much it would cost to pay a professional web designer, so kind of making virtue of necessity!

In my experience there's a great deal of young bands who put a lot of effort into writing and recording, and then sit back and lose some momentum as they consider the job is done. So what's your next step now that the mini album is out?
How are you going to keep the ball rolling?
Currently dreams of rock stardom are being eroded away by a number of factors. The main issue being the ongoing demise of the major labels and their lack of faith in investing in anything that hasn't got a guaranteed financial return on it.
Gone are the days when a label would hang in their supporting an act until people caught up on how good they are. With that being considered what are your dreams for the band, and how do you think that you can achieve them?

Our next step is to play to as many different people as possible! That means touring as much as we can and also finding ways of getting our music heard online by as many people as possible.
We’re constantly working on new material as well so hopefully if we play somewhere twice, we’ll have something new for people as well as the songs on the EP.
We like to test out new songs on a live crowd: nothing like a bit of pressure for us and we get instant feedback on whether the song is a good one.
We’re also in the early stages of putting together a new EP, recording in early 2013 and releasing soon after. Our dream is to be able to make music our career.
At the moment we all have day jobs: juggling tours, recording and video shoots around work schedules is a nightmare! From what we’ve heard, labels want you to show that you can already make your own music, arrange your own shows and advertise yourselves before they’ll offer to step in and take you to the next level.

Normally in interviews the question of who it was that creatively influences a band normally makes an appearance, but instead of that why don't you each tell us who you are listening to just now that may well influence others in the years to come?

[Ross] At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Panic! At The Disco.
I only recently got into them and I fell in love with Brendan’s voice; his vocal melodies are so catchy! Also a massive fan of Dream Theater and Paramore, bit of an odd pairing, but hey it works for me!
[Rich] My music taste has gone nuts in the last couple of years: I used to be very much into technical shred metal stuff, but now I find myself listening to all kinds of things: enjoying the tunes more than any virtuosity, though anyone that can combine the two is incredible! (check out Marco Sfogli and Andy McKee!). I’m also a big Dream Theater fan.
My favourite band at the moment is Muse – really loving their latest album The Second Law – if you haven’t already, give it a listen: it’s sort of like Queen meets dubstep (that sounds like a horrific description, but believe me, it’s amazing!)
[Neil] Since my iPhone is broken it’s all about CDs just now! Which is kinda cool because riding in the car, you tend to listen to whole albums instead of just your favourite song. I kind of like that because it lets you hear where the artist was at when they made the album! But at the moment I’m listening to a fair bit of Linkin Park, LostProphets, James Brown, Herb Hancock, Deep Purple, G’n’R and Coheed & Cambria!
Oh and now I think of it, I dug Ascendancy by Trivium out from under a car seat the other day! That record has some major riffage, crushing!
Generally though I’m in love with Classic rock, Blues and Funk. Rhythm and groove make a song for me!
[Ana] I’ve got Lost Prophets, Crush40 and lots of videogame music (Sonic, Final Fantasy, Silent Hill…) on my iPod just now. I just stick it on shuffle.
[Amy] Very much into my pop punk! Love Yellowcard, Paramore and Blink 182, I feel a lot of my playing is influenced by those guys.
I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and The Eagles so all of those bands still have a massive hold on me! Love a bit of Prog Rock as well Rush, Dream Theater are AMAZING!!

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