By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – Back in June, alt-J dropped their excellent third album RELAXER, one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The buzz-worthy alternative trio from Leeds is hitting the ground running when it comes to bringing the record to their ever-growing Canadian fan base.
“It’s always a treat to come to Canada,” says keyboardist and vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton.
“When you’ve been in America for a while, it always feels like you’re getting a little closer to home when you come to Canada, culturally speaking, I think.”
Unger-Hamilton says the title RELAXER originally came from a song penned for the record and that it’s a title very fitting of the mood of the album.
“It used to be a lyric from the song “Deadcrush” on the album; we actually took it out of the song in the end. But by that point we had just sort of fallen for the name. It’s memorable, it’s unique, it seemed kind of punchy and direct, kind of like the album, rather than the first two album names which were kind of long and maybe a bit more flowery.”
RELAXER was recorded in London with producer Charlie Andrew, who also helmed the band’s first two records, 2012’s An Awesome Wave and 2014’s This Is All Yours. As part of the process, the band also had the unbelievable opportunity to record at The Beatles’ famous Abbey Road Studios in Westminster, London.
“We did one day of recording there. It was certainly a real privilege to get to go there. You know, that place is just so full of history and to actually work and record there was a massive privilege.”
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Hollies each recorded some of their most memorable albums at the studio. Unger-Hamilton says the studio also has an incredible amount of high-tech equipment.
“There’s an amazing vibe. Probably the most famous recording studio in the world, I would say. It’s not just that it’s full of history; it’s really a state-of-the-art place. In terms of its facilities, it’s really unparalleled.”
Critics have compared alt-j’s brand of quirky rock to everything from Depeche Mode to Nine Inch Nails, but the band that alt-j identifies with the most is Radiohead. Although they don’t directly name-check Radiohead on RELAXER, Unger-Hamilton believes you can hear their inspiration all over the record.
“They’re a band who has been a big influence on us ever since the start. They’re the band that we look up to the most, really.”
Check out alt-J October 13 at the Doug Mitchell Sports Centre (Vancouver), October 15 and 16 at the Winspear Centre (Edmonton), and October 17 at the Big Four Building (Calgary).Alt-J, Big Four Building, Doug Mitchell Sports Centre, RELAXER, Winspear Centre