Altostratus Interview 28/02/20
MM - What was the highlight of 2019 for you as a band, and what was the funniest?
The highlight of 2019 was definitely finishing our debut album and getting the final masters back from Forrester Savell. Finally having the completed product after so long is very rewarding and we're all thrilled with it. It's called “Complete the Connection” and it came out on the 7th February this year.
The funniest time we had was probably shooting our upcoming music video for our next single "Persea Americana", I don't want to give too much away but we've had the idea for this video for a while and it's pretty out there. Our good friend and filmmaker Lewis Dodds (Doddsy films) helped us bring it to life and we're sure it will capture peoples' imaginations.
MM - For any Altostratus virgins out there, please introduce the band members to us
Well I'm Drew, I play the Bass Guitar, we have Alex and Jordan on the Electric Guitars and Jack on the Drums.
MM - When was the band formed and how did you all discover each other's mutual taste in making music?
We started in 2015 off the back of a friend of ours’ university project. He needed a band to record for his music production degree. Jack (Drums) and Alex (Guitar) are childhood friends and have played in bands together for years, they brought some demos that they had been working on and formed our first EP – Altitude – out of them. I, (Andrew) was recruited to play bass on the EP, the project was right up my street and I got on really well with the guys on a personal level, so we decided to make it into a full band. Coincidentally I was doing some Facebook/YouTube creeping when I happened upon Jordan’s (Guitar) YouTube channel and found that he went to the same college as us. We invited him to jam and got on right away so that was it, very painless recruitment procedure. We started gigging without a singer for a while, we did try and find someone at one point but no one gelled well enough with us musically. Since then we’ve been gigging all over the place and pal-ing around like any band should, creating music we really believe in too.
MM - How would you describe your music and what do you hope people will take away from your music and your performances?
Our music is very groove based while being laced with fast, technical, widdly riffs. It’s rhythmically complex with much syncopation and poly-meters throughout. There’s also a grander Post-Rock element to our music and some moody clean breaks that feature catchy melodies.
I’d say listen closely, as there are some easter eggs and subtleties in our music that make it a lot more meaningful. Our new album “Complete the Connection” is a journey through varying sound worlds that take place in a deeply connected universe. It’s not a concept album as such, but if the listener pays close attention they will hear the motifs, relationships, overarching themes throughout the album. It might take a few listens to get them, but I’d like to think that it will make for a richer listening experience.
MM - What bands did you grow up listening to and how did they help in creating the style of music you perform today?
We all grew up listening to Metal in one form or another, but it was around the early 2010’s when we all got into modern Meshuggah inspired Progressive Metal. Specific bands include Periphery, Tesseract, Intervals, and Animals as Leaders. All of these artists, including Meshuggah, have influenced our music a lot and much of our riff writing.
MM -Name an album you've heard recently and liked.
Recently our UK Tech Metal brothers in Godeater releases their debut full length "All Flesh Is Grass", they're great players and writers. I saw them in London last month, definitely worth keeping an eye on.
MM - What one unique quality do your Band have to offer that no other band possess?
We write songs about avocados.
MM - Who writes the songs that you perform? Is it a solo or joint effort?
The tracks on our recent album – “Complete The Connection” – have all been written quite differently. We tend to work on songs individually, with Alex, Jack, Jordan, and myself having written full songs that we’ve brought to the band. However, we’ll always closely review what we’ve got and make some tweaks so that the songs are the best they can be before calling them finished. A few songs on our album have been fully collaborative, “Concord Dawn” for instance started as a Jordan song that Alex and I had our wicked way with and shaped it into its final form. “Zephyr” however is a Jack song through and through, with a couple of minor nuances thrown in towards the end. As the album began to take shape, we started borrowing motifs from other songs and thought long and hard about how the album flowed as continuous piece of music. If the listener pays attention they’ll hear themes revisited, especially in the final track Starlight, this was funnily enough the first song we started writing and the last song we finished, it’s our most collaborative piece to date and our aim was to have it encapsulate our entire dynamic palette. With instrumental music it’s more difficult to have songs about certain topics, the music is more an experience that the listener can feel what they want from, we just hope to transfer the energy and vibes we felt when writing it onto the record.
MM - Which Altostratus song is your personal favourite and why? Which one sends the crowds crazy at your gigs?
My personal favourite is probably Concord Dawn from our latest album. It's one of our more collaborative songs and I really like structure and how the main riff is woven into the whole song. The end is super tricky and sounds nuts live as it's so hard to follow.
Our most requested is an old one called Hidden In A Cloud, we’ve just re-introduced this one to the set and I co-ordinate 3 Walls Of Death at certain parts of the song, so if you come see us, please be ready to be in three Walls Of Death.
MM - How can people keep up to date with what the band are up to and do?
You can hear from us over on our Facebook (@altostratusband), Instagram (@altostratusband), and Twitter (@altostratusuk). However, you can sign up to our newsletter at www.altostratusband.com for more direct updates.
MM - If you had to choose only one of the following options, which one would you choose?
(a) a short lived career that will earn you fame and fortune
(b) the opportunity to make music for the next 50 years but without any real recognition.
I'm gonna go for B, being able to get by making music is the dream. A lot of bands of our ilk agree, the notion of being a big rockstar like the guys from the 80s is outdated. People who want fame and fortune would be better off making a popular style of music, therefore they’re unlikely to get into Progressive Metal.
MM - Who do you think influenced the world of Metal / Rock more than any other person, for better or for worse?
I think in recent years, Misha Mansoor. Not only has Periphery's sound rubbed off a lot on the genre, but the band's vibe and ethos about doing things for yourself and producing your own material has ushered in a new era of music products that enable young musicians to do it themselves, without having to rely on labels to get your music recorded.
MM - How has the music media responded to the band so far and what's their biggest misconception about you?
So far we’ve had a positive reception from the media and some great reviews for our debut album. Some people believe that we should have a singer as they’re not used to hearing instrumental metal, however, we’ve tried this with our music and we thought that it compromised our sound. We really think that the rhythms and melodies of our music paint a picture without words, and become more thought provoking without a spoken meaning.
MM - What's the most important thing to the band right now?
The most important thing to us is getting ready for tour! We're touring with our friends in Pravitas across the UK in April and we need to make sure we're on top form for our fans coming to see us. We're adding new songs to the set and with our kind of music, it takes a lot of preparation to get it up to scratch.
MM - How do you feel about the internet and the effect it is having on bands and independent music?
I think it’s only a good thing, the last decade or so has seen a complete shift in power from only being able to record and release with the backing of a record label to being a lot more DIY. This goes for every aspect, including distribution. The Internet has made it so everyone has access to what you’re doing and can choose to support you, or just enjoy the art you’ve made; both are a win in the grand scheme of things.
MM - If one of your songs could appear on a soundtrack or any film or cult TV series, which one would you choose and why?
Metalocalypse! It's that animated show on Adult Swim about the death metal band Dethklok. It'd be nuts to be on that, we'd probably get brutally killed in some awful way but, you know, all the fun of the fair.
1.Festival or Small intimate gig
Festivals are great, it's like going to another world for a few days where the only things that exist are friends, bands and beers. And nowadays the niches are getting bigger so more specific festivals are coming up. We've been lucky to perform at Tech-Fest in the UK, a festival just for nerdy metal like ours.
2.Vinyl or Digital
Digital, I love the big artwork and package with Vinyl but Digital is crazily convenient. My favourite format of all was having a perfectly organised iTunes library loaded into my old iPod classic.
3.Drinking Beer or getting high by other means
Nothing on this earth quite compares to a few Tinnies in the summer sun.
4.Denim or Leather
Denim, at least double, triple is ideal, quadruple is pushing it, quintuple is too far, stop it.
5. Slipknot or Abba
Slipknot, but Abba have some bangers.
MMM - Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to all your fans out there?
We’d like to say thank you for all the recent and on-going support for our debut album, it means a lot to us and we really appreciate your feedback. Don’t forget that we’re touring the UK this April so look out for our shows and tickets via our website (www.altostratusband.com) . If we’re not playing in your city or country soon, let us know and we’ll make an effort to reach you!