interview by Damage
Real powerplay scenarios, tongue-in-cheek presentation meets tough-ass alternative rock on the first album of Animal Alpha. The Norwegian five-piece literally built a fearsomely respectable carreer in three years and they're working on their second album now. We've got christian of aa here to tell you all about it.
THE DOSE: You were relatively unknown in 2004, now some three years later you're signed with TKO, touring the world, getting awards and things are looking more than up for you! What was the moment that changed the life of Animal Alpha for the better? Could you also please give a brief history of the band, pointing out the moments you loved the most?
CHRISTIAN: We rehearsed for a long time before we even played our first gig. Flicking on our songs and getting everything to the level we wanted. Looking back we don't regret taking our time.. People were blown away by our show from early on and we soon gained a good reputation as one of the best live acts in Norway. I guess the word spread fast and soon we got offers to play the bigger festivals. In its turn this caught the attention of a lot of labels, and we had the luxury of picking whom we wanted to work with. We signed with Racing Junior, and it's been a pleasure to work with them over the last years.
In 2004 we did a showcase gig which Sylvia Massy, our producer happened to see. She basically came up to us right after and invited us to come record our debut album with her at her studio in California. The whole thing was settled in less than a day! We released the debut EP in right before the summer 2005. That turned out a great success and sold to gold in Norway. Later on same year we came out with the full-length album, Pheromones. Since then we have been doing a lot of touring in Norway as well as doing showcases and festivals in Europe and the states. We met TKO on one of our trips to the US. They saw our show on SXSW in Texas last year. We also hooked up with EA games, which has put our song "Bundy" in two of their games. I guess everything has been developing over time for us, there is not one single thing I can point out as the big turning point, but meeting Sylvia meant a lot.
THE DOSE: What was the main point of influence in turning your visuals into a freakshow family?
CHRISTIAN: I guess you are referring to our "Bundy"-video. After the director Petter Jahre saw pictures of the band and heard our music, ideas just started to flow between him and us.
To do a circus/freakshow oriented video just came very naturally to us. It just worked well with our overall style and look. Petter is a very gifted filmmaker that I am sure we'll work with again. With our videos we like to try out different things and keep things fresh.
THE DOSE: You're from Norway, a country that spawned lots of professional bands - was there any peculiar difficulty in obtaining fame in your own country, in getting through messages to people?
CHRISTIAN: Our level of success in Norway is still moderate, compared to a lot of other artists, but on the other hand, we got some attention from early on and we've been able to build on that. I can't say that we have faced any particular problems.
THE DOSE: What's the main driving force behind the concept of Animal Alpha?
CHRISTIAN: The main driving force has to be the creative process itself. To write and perform music together is something we love to do, and that's why we want to take this band as far as we can.
THE DOSE: Please showcase all your ten songs on Pheromones! If they're really the scent marks released by the leading animal of the pack (if I understand the pun), what effects does these ten songs are supposed to have?
CHRISTIAN: I could of course go into details on how these ten songs in their own different way affect you exactly as we wanted them to, according to our mean little plan, hehe. With our pheromones we successfully bring you in under our command and you all become soldiers helping us conquering the world.
When it came to naming the debut album we thought pheromones was kind of cool. The album is our string of communication with the world and the listener. Spreading "pheromones" attract lots of people to our shows. You totally got the pun right but going into details on all ten songs would kind of squeeze the magic out of it.
THE DOSE: What inspires you musically, lyrically, personally? What was the most motivating thing for you in 2006?
CHRISTIAN: Just living and experience different things in the everyday-life, tends to inspire. Looking at a weird person and fantasize about his or her life. Books, magazines, documentaries, music, etc. is of course also very inspiring, especially when it has to do with the mob, serial killers, homicide and other bestialities. This is very evident in Agnete´s lyrics.
We played at lots of cool festivals during the summer 2006. We traveled a lot and got to play for many people. That's always really inspiring. Getting out there to meet the people and let them hear what we're about. It is a really big moment, when you feel you've reached out to the audience and expanded the family even more!
The whole year 2006 was a very inspiring year traveling and supporting the release of "pheromones".
THE DOSE: You've spent much of the early months of 2007 with the Finnish promo tour of Pheromones. How did that go, how does the Finnish crowd rock to AA?
CHRISTIAN: We have been in Finland doing press and preparing the release of Pheromones in March. We're going back there to do some shows in March and for festivals in the summer. So far things are going really well. They love hard music over there! We where told that a trash-metal band went to #1 in the Finnish album charts a while back. That could never have happened in our country, and probably not in yours either :-)
THE DOSE: Pheromones were produced by Sylvia Massy who worked for Tool, SOAD, RHCP or Smashing Pumpkins, to name a few bands @ Radiostar Productions. What was it like working with her, what experiences did you gain from that?
CHRISTIAN: Working with Sylvia was great. We spent six weeks at her studio in a little town named Weed, up northern California.
Weed is a little town and there is not much to do there part from playing pool and drinking beer at the local Papa's place. It got really intense working with the album and being at such a small place helped us keeping focused on the music. Sylvia was great. We had a good vision of how it would all turn out and we worked well together getting it all down.
THE DOSE: It's not a secret that you're already working on your second album. What details can we know about it firsthand? Any changes in sound, sight or concepts?
CHRISTIAN: Our sound has become a bit heavier over the last years, and that has just been a natural development for us. Our songwriting has changed a bit from us simply evolving and becoming a much better band. We have played together for five years now, and having a bit more experience is going to help us on the next record. We have a new drummer (Kenneth Kapstad) since the first album, and his playing has also pushed our sound in a heavier direction.
THE DOSE: Thanks for the interview, what final message do you bear for The Dose readers?
CHRISTIAN: Order "Pheromones" at our website, animalalpha.com