"I think when I was younger I had the opinion that if I was making music and art that my parents appreciated, I was probably doing a bad job,” smiles wryly Gwil Sainsbury, guitar noodler and bass boffin for Alt-J, aka the band with the most anti-square shape of the moment, ∆. “And my parents really love our record, so maybe I’ve just done a bad job.”
Though Alt-J’s parents must now surely be full of praise for their world-conquering sons, one more serious criticism aimed at Alt-J came near the end of last year from one of the fathers of art-rock cool, Bryan Ferry. The Roxy Music maestro described Alt-J as a “celebration of normality”, even commenting that they were “one step from the dole queue”. In some ways this attack seems to be indicative of people’s inability to effectively describe Alt-J’s music, with common references to Coldplay and Radiohead both seeming rather misleading.
“It’s not like we set out to make the next groundbreaking contemporary record,” Sainsbury shares. “Our intentions were maybe quite selfish. My intention was to make a record with my friends that I really liked, and that if we were gonna tour it, we’d not get sick of touring it. It was just about making the best thing we could make, and if the best thing you could make is a celebration of normality, we can’t really help but do that.
“I’m perfectly happy for Bryan Ferry to have his opinion. Also, normality, I would consider that a very loaded word and I think he kind of used it in a very naïve way, in a way that he was sort of saying that we were kind of nice middle class kids, but I think normality is a lot more complex than being middle-class nice and I wouldn’t like to think they we were normal in a way that I would interpret normal. So I think he might have used it in a flippant, naïve way.”