Alvarez Kings: Musicians And Historians
Lesson in drinking history from the Alvarez Kings
Alvarez Kings guitarist, Sean Parkin, could be a history teacher. He could fall back on teaching if the music career doesn't pan out. It's not likely to happen but anything is possible.
We recently talked about their new album, "Fear to Feel," which was released in June. The album has found its way into my YouTube mix, where I hope it stays.
I also hope to find them at Warped Tour soon.
1. What was the catalyst for changing your sound?
The catalyst for the development of our sound is where we live. The UK has a forever fluctuating and eclectic music scene. The entire country is a melting pot of every genre of music purely for the reason that everyone wants to prove themselves in such a small area.
Coupled with modern technology and sound sharing platforms, it's become so easy to find inspiration and trends in sound movement.
I guess what prompted the style of the sound and direction in the music, was taking our original, individual influences and nostalgic soundscapes and coupling them with the way modern musicians have to create when not spending every day in a rehearsal room.
As band members, we don't live anywhere near one another. We're dotted all over the country but all originate from the Sheffield, South Yorkshire area. Sheffield has a very varied and rich history.
So in order to portray an idea you have to the other guys in the band, you are forced to embrace the technology that's available in order to share and develop those ideas. It's a longer, and some may argue, a less organic process of song writing. But outside of a rehearsal studio it allows more space for the instrumentation to breathe. You can really concentrate on the detail of the sound.
2. Are you satisfied with the new album?
As a musician and producing the record ourselves I couldn't say that we're totally happy with it. The recording process was sparse and difficult. The overall songwriting and vibe that we were aiming for I feel was successful but there will always be areas of anything you record that you aren't entirely happy with.
We're our own worst critic. However I guess if you don't think like that, you aren't seeing room for improvement therefore you will never develop yourselves and push for better.
3. Who does most of the songwriting? Do you have a process for writing music?
The process changes song by song. There are occasions when myself or Simon will have a concept where we will meet up and write organically in the same room and most songs are written on acoustic guitar. Most tracks start out with Simon's melody and then an overall plot or subject matter charged emotionally by the right chord structure.
Other songs can take on or go through several different identities. Some tracks such as the opener "Run From You", came from Simon emailing a voice memo on his phone. I took a one line, terrible quality recording, tuned it and produced a song from a single line in logic. We treat every song in its own right, just as long as the emotion is evident and people are able to connect with it lyrically and emotionally, that's all we care about.
4. You guys were on "Warped Roadies." Do you feel like it was an accurate portrayal?
It was an accurate portrayal in terms of the way we had to deal with some very extreme circumstances. Losing a lead singer mid tour as a financially strained, unsigned band. Trying our hardest to create an impact and career in one of the most difficult industries in the world to break, on one of the most grueling tours as a musician... the documentation of what we went through was true. As a band we have had a lot of low moments but it's our perseverance and passion that have gotten us to this stage. But we aren't TV personalities.
5. Would you ever do reality TV again?
No. Never. If we're to be judged or made into 'famous' people, it's going to be through the quality of our creation.
We're song writers. The only thing any one of us aim towards is to actually create a career and a steady living from sharing our songs and performance with an audience that acknowledges our ability and can really interact and relate with what we're trying to say.
6. Are any of you sleepwalkers? Great song by the way.
Thanks! There's been plenty of drunken occasions of that. I was told off for peeing in my mums wash basket when I was asleep after a very heavy night! Anyway... Aside from that, there are some pretty bad snorers in the band haha
7. Are you enjoying the Warped Tour this year?
We're really enjoying Warped. Its a huge family! The fact we're so sonically different to pretty much everything here has created a lot of interest. We're still, despite the show, relatively unknown in the U.S. But that's why we're here, to make ourselves known.
Thankfully we have an amazing stage and tour crew. Not only this but the welcome back we received from the Warped Tour crew and Kevin was just amazing.
We've approached this tour with so much more knowledge and preparation. Much easier this time round.
8. Will I recognize you if I see you in Cleveland? Do you blend into the crowd fairly easily?
I'll be honest we don't really look like the typical Warped Tour goer but we aren't totally out there in terms of fashion. We're just typical indie kids with Game of Thrones style British accents.
9. Are there any major differences between European crowd and American crowds?
There are but I feel like it's an unfair comparison. Touring the US on Warped is totally different to playing to thousands of Echosmith supporters on a support slot in countries you've never played.
I guess it's all about trying to expose our music as far and wide as possible. Either way the reaction we get from people the world over has been incredibly positive.
There's a huge difference in playing to 1500 people in Amsterdam waiting to watch a band that hit the No.1 spot as a support band, to playing to 50 to 100 people as a starting crowd and depending on stage positioning and set time (as it changes day to day) and hoping to draw in as many listeners as possible competing with 40+ other bands.
10. Is everyone obsessed with the history of English royalty or is it just me? Can you fill me in on any interesting facts?
Oh yeah we can totally understand that. The US & UK's history is so intertwined, I find all history really interesting. I divulge in all kinds of history, but some of my more interesting facts revolve around alcohol history.
So during the early Victorian era, London had a real problem. London water was incredibly unsafe to drink and could give you all kinds of nasty diseases like Typhoid and Polio, so people resorted to fermenting alcohol, and at the time it was legal for anyone to make and distill Gin.
Average consumption per person per week was roughly 2.5 liters. Gin at the time was anywhere between 75%-85% abv (150-270 proof) and that statistic also included children. Mothers would feed it to their kids, pregnant women would drink it and so it created a lot of premature death in children and still births, hence why in the UK, Gin has the nickname of 'Mothers' Ruin'.
It's the only time in British history outside of a war period where the death rate was higher than the birth rate.
Many believe that if you drink too much Gin it will make you cry. This is a psychosomatic effect, a placebo that has been passed down over many generations. So a lot of people believe that Gin is a depressant. Gin is a depressant but no more so than any other alcohol. Still the reason why all this came about is because its a period of British history known as "The Great Gin Depression".