Alberta Cross Pens A Letter To Younger Self
Alberta Cross were signed over a decade ago, plunged into the musical whirlwind while still basically kids. Led by Swedish-born lead singer and guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee, the band hit the ground running, scoring hits with a string of albums.
Incoming LP ‘Sinking Ships’ is out this month, and it represents the ever-evolving group’s seventh album to date. Out on March 31st, it finds Alberta Cross piecing themselves together after the fissures of the pandemic.
“After everything the world has seen these past two years, the album took longer than we expected to record and release…the writing side of it actually came together quite quickly. But now that it is finally coming out, the timing actually feels serendipitous – the themes and lyrics of these songs do in fact reflect what’s going on in the world today. Even though I wrote some of these tunes a while ago they strangely feel more relevant today than they did back then”.
The group are constantly changing, adapting to new challenges in the process. In this essay, Petter reflects on how far he’s come, and what advice he would give to his younger self.
I guess I never paid attention to how I felt since I got signed in 2006. It was just a whirlwind back then, which was fucking amazing but also you don’t care about anything – you’re in your early twenties, who gives a shit?
It wasn’t until I moved out of America to Berlin in 2016 that I stopped to have a feel on how I really was. It was the first time I had a chance to, and didn’t really have a choice not to. It was in the middle of the grey cold winter in Berlin and I had just left all my good friends in New York and the States and I told my self to stop all the never-ending touring for a long while to live back in Europe where I’m from. It was definitely time to move back and take a break from all the traveling, but it did make it feel so much worse mentally.
After many years of being on tour non-stop, album to album, especially in the US it kind of made me feel numb in the end. Maybe that was a self protection mechanism my body did to itself but yeah I lost myself a bit and almost lost track on who I was it felt like. My management team over there use to say that if we’re not touring we’re dead as a band which I guess made sense in a way for an upcoming band but also not. But even though a lot of my touring experiences were great, some of it wasn’t and it definitely took it’s toll on all of us in the band, especially Terry and I.
If you start your music career when you first get signed with some mental health issues it’s pretty certain that you’re going to feel about 10 times worse after five to six years of straight touring. My mental health wasn’t great, I had all this anxiety and depression and all this stuff just hiding under everything, I parked it somewhere and didn’t want to think about it, but along the way it still affected me massively. I probably drank more and did more stuff that was harmful because I didn’t feel super awesome. That’s where this record came in. It was like, ‘who am I?’. I’m Swedish but I’ve lived abroad for longer than I lived in Sweden. It’s weird when you’ve been away from where you come from and then you find your new homes everywhere. As much as I love that and couldn’t see myself living in Sweden, it definitely does stuff to you.
Looking back on my early years in London playing shows all the time, or if not playing shows then writing, or jamming or both, every night… all night. Never much sleep. Listening to new records for food. Eating white rice with soya sauce only to save money so I can buy more records, poetry books or guitar strings, but that eventually led to us getting signed to a great label which was Fiction Records. The Cure’s old label in the UK and Geffen Records over in the States. It was an exciting time for sure. But I guess the years leading up to that were pretty harsh. So when we finally got our break we were too much in a bubble to do things right. It would have been amazing if we had someone helping us more on a personal level back then and not only on a musical level. So If I could ever be that person to a younger person starting up, or heading into the music biz now, I’d be more than happy to because gosh… didn’t we all need it back then and I’m sure it’s the same heading into that industry now.
‘Sinking Ships’ will be released on March 31st.
Photography: Courtney Sultan