Ones To Watch - Alt J

Whip-smart indie rock with beats
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Leeds quartet (pronounced Alt-J, after the shortcut keystroke for the delta sign on an Apple computer) aren’t just a cryptic name. There is an unerring confidence in a band that have been developing their jagged, laser-sharp, beat-infested rock over the past three years, while their debut single (the glittering double A-side, ‘Bloodflood / Tessalate’) is virtually impossible to conveniently pigeon-hole.

But the sound is undoubtedly influenced by the stark differences in the band members’ respective musical backgrounds. “We all agree on Metronomy and Radiohead,” guitarist Gwil Sainsbury tells Clash. “But, three quarters of the band agree on certain hip-hop groups and Thom the drummer has a metal background. Gus on keyboards was a chorister and for a large part of his life was brought up in the classical section of HMV.”

The band met while Gwil and singer/guitarist Joe Newman were studying Fine Art at Leeds University. “We just wanted to make a few recordings,” Gwil reveals honestly. “We never really intended to be a band; we were just venting and doing some creative stuff on top of our course work.”

Apart from loving the simplicity of their band name, Joe quite likes the initial hassle it can cause; “It is also a nice little process in that people have to work out what we’re called, make the symbol on the computer - get pissed off if they can’t - it’s like a little road test to find us.”

With several demos tracks lurking out in the ethernet, are excited at what 2012 might bring: “It’s been such an amazing feeling to have fans coming up to us after gigs and saying really nice things or audiences singing along to tracks they’ve heard on the radio,” admits Gwil. “But we’ve got more songs and I cannot wait for fans to hear more. Hopefully everyone will like them.”

Words by JOHN FREEMAN
Photography: SAMUEL JOHN BUTT
Styling: Zoe Whitfield & Luke Raymond
Photographic Assistant: Maisi Lee & Josh Brown


Where: Leeds, Yorkshire
What: Whip-smart indie rock with beats
Get 3 songs: ‘Breezeblocks’, ‘Tessalate’, ‘Matilda’
Unique Fact: Before becoming the band used to be called Films - another Googling nightmare


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