"I guess the issue that we run into, being on the heavier side, is our abrasive sound. Not everybody understands it, but the people who do, they love it."
It’s been a long time coming for the release of Adelaide band alt.’s debut album, Abeyance. Since emerging from the city of churches in late 2019, alt. have been spun on triple j and Unearthed and quickly amassed a devoted following with their debut single, insubordinate, hitting the airwaves that December.
After spending years honing their signature brand of punk, pop, electronic and alternative rock, alt. are ready to release Abeyance tomorrow. A strong metalcore record, Abeyance fires on all cylinders from the get-go – the sharp Parasite immediately blends into first single Wraith, showcasing the band’s pop sensibilities.
However, the album is packed with surprises and no one genre or theme. Perhaps the finest track is a collaborative one – Void Of Vision vocalist Jack Bergin stars on APEP, raging against chaos and corruption as Bergin trades vocals with alt.'s Daniel Richards.
"APEP is the Egyptian God of Chaos, and he is consuming our world,” Richards revealed in a statement. "We see his impacts through the pandemic, our corrupt governments, social media being used as a weapon to divide people.
“We need to realise we are not the enemy; we haven’t done this to ourselves or each other. We are being used and it’s time to stand up and fight or this chaos will devour us all."
In the lead-up to Abeyance, alt. have enjoyed a hell of a year. They’ve signed to Resist and Sharptone Records, opened for Northlane, Don Broco and Saosin, and next month they'll be heading out on tour with Windwaker. Hell, even putting out an album is an impressive achievement – one the band shouldn’t forget they’ve accomplished.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
Despite the buzz and whirlwind of noise swimming around them, alt. remain remarkably laidback, ordinary dudes, even with a debut album coming out tomorrow. Bassist Oscar Harding (who also DJs) and guitarist Simon Aistrope are just like you and me, pissing off their bosses at work by taking too much leave that they no longer have.
“Work is a lot more angry with me,” Aistrope laughs from backstage at 170 Russell in Melbourne, just hours before the band is due to open for UK rockers Don Broco. “We don't tour that much yet. But hopefully we can change that.”
Harding adds, “I mean, we all work day jobs, too." Aistrope pipes in, “Touring is still like a fun holiday.”
Harding continues, “You get to hang out with your mates, play some weekend shows, and take some annual leave from work. We're not in a position as of yet where we can call it a full-time job, but, hopefully, one day we can.
“I think you're more likely to win the lottery than be a full-time touring musician,” Harding candidly notes, “But I think we've got good chances, at least at this position.”
Oscar Harding is very new to the band, having joined in February 2022 and almost immediately thrown into a huge national tour which included opening for Northlane alongside Sleep Token and Plini last June. But it was two gigs that took place in August that truly took his breath away.
“My fourth and fifth gigs [opening for Northlane] with the band were ‘pinch yourself moments’, but then being able to go home and support Karnivool at Thebarton Theatre, which is like the mecca of bands in Adelaide… that was a real moment where you looked back to your 13-year-old self when I first saw Parkway there,” Harding says. Aistrope calls Thebarton Theatre “iconic”.
“It's the venue in Adelaide that everyone was going to in the early 2010s to see all those scene bands,” Aistrope chuckles, “we always wanted to play there.”
The live shows have felt celebratory – alt. have so many songs under their belt now and have been road-testing songs from Abeyance along the way. Aistrope shares that the band actually finished the final recording sessions last March, when they visited Melbourne for an opening slot with Banks Arcade.
“We left a nine-month window to press vinyl with the delays – if anyone asks the reason why our release got delayed, it’s because of vinyl,” Harding laughs.
The wait has since gotten shorter, Aistrope adds, but when alt. were initially talking to people at Resist about vinyl, the band were told vinyl was a seven- to nine-month wait. “I think it's down to four to six now so yeah, I think we just planned for the worst,” Aistrope says.
Parasite acts as an intro song – not necessarily what alt. had in mind while writing it, but one that would’ve made an album or EP, depending on where the band was at creatively. At one point, they had a seven-track release ready to go before deciding to write three more songs, thus introducing Abeyance to the world.
Aistrope explains, “I think Parasite was for an EP. When I mentioned that we did seven songs, and we did three more for the album, we were kind of like, ‘We'll just write two more songs and then write an intro’. When the album comes out, you'll hear it.
“But there's a lot of parts in that song that are identical to Wraith, and it goes straight into one another. It's almost the same but with the heavier parts.”
Speaking of heavy, Jack Bergin’s guest vocals on APEP bring a kind of chaotic energy alt. couldn’t quite create on their own. “I think that we always had the plan to have a guest feature on the album somewhere,” Aistrope says, and from the beginning, it would’ve been APEP or Wraith.
“We were tossing out names of who we should hit up, and then, yeah, Jack obviously has such a unique voice. For the style of the song in that part, I think he fits it. He fits more than someone who would be doing, like, low growls or something.”
Alt. and Void Of Vision are part of a booming heavy music scene in Australia, and it’s one that’s received significant attention from fans and labels across the globe, particularly in the US. Take one look at Polaris’ recent Australian tour announcement on their socials and find numerous fans pleading with them to bring that line-up overseas.
Harding concurs, “Australian metal and hardcore have a big reputation overseas. In the last ten to 15 years, some of the biggest bands like Parkway [Drive], and [The] Amity [Affliction] are in that touring circuit. I think people around the world take note, especially when these bands get on an international label. It's super supportive.”
But that support could stretch a bit more, especially when observing things closer to home. Harding and Aistrope point out that alt. have received radio support from Australia’s national youth broadcaster, triple j, but there’s only so much heavy music the station can play when a majority of its market is disinterested in metal. Really, other radio stations like Triple M could shoulder some of the responsibility of showcasing new Australian music.
“You have The Racket and short.fast.loud. now, but they're on the 8pm to 10pm slot,” Harding explains. This leads to heavy music being reserved for late spots on the radio, and not many bands outside the pop, hip-hop or indie sphere will be spun during the day.
“Other stations are still full of your dad's favourite music artists and hip hop artists and indie artists, and triple j has your token Amity song or Sleep Token rotation. But I think there could be more.
Harding assures that he’s not here to take stabs at any artists, “At the moment, it seems like triple j's darlings are Slowly Slowly, and that’s well deserved because those guys are a bit more accessible. I guess the issue that we run into, being on the heavier side, is our abrasive sound. Not everybody understands it, but the people who do, they love it. So, I think maybe there's room for more. More support in terms of radio listenership and online radio stations. But radio can’t really compete with the Spotify playlist.
“You know, that's the big thing nowadays. I was always looking for what playlists we’re getting put on, and that's the biggest thing in our eyes – it's great to get support from triple j and so on, but for us, getting included on a Spotify playlist is almost more important to us. We get the majority of our listens through Spotify.”
Whether you’re listening to Abeyance through Spotify, another streaming service, vinyl, or witnessing tracks being played live on stage, Harding promises a “very good, dynamic range in our songs.
“There's high points and low points. It's a good blend that will make you feel different mixtures of emotion.” Aistrope continues, “We try to incorporate a whole bunch of different genres intentionally.
“I don't think the album will be one of those ones where everyone loves every single song. This group of people will love these three songs, and that group will love those three songs. It’s gonna go like that, but it's cool because we can potentially play on lots of different bills and then pick and choose the setlist to suit.”
Abeyance is out tomorrow via Resist and Sharptone Records. You can pre-order your copy here. Catch alt. on tour across Australia with Windwaker in July – all dates below.
LOVE IN THE DARK AUSTRALIAN TOUR
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS CASKETS AND ALT.
THURSDAY JULY 20 - LYNOTTS LOUNGE, PERTH 18+*
*ALT. NOT APPEARING
FRIDAY JULY 21 - UNI BAR, ADELAIDE 18+
SATURDAY JULY 22 - MAX WATTS, MELBOURNE
THURSDAY JULY 27 - THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE 18+
FRIDAY JULY 28 - HAMILTON STATION HOTEL, NEWCASTLE 18+
SATURDAY JULY 29 - CROWBAR, SYDNEY 18+