Nine Black Alps: ‘I Can Only Sing About Five Different Notes’

Nine Black Alps tell us all about their December tour, and give us an exclusive look at the video for ‘Phosphorescence’.

After an a three year absence, Manchester’s Nine Black Alps finally made a reappearance earlier this year, with their long awaited fourth record, ‘Sirens’, which includes the gorgeous new single ‘Phosphorescence’ - check out our exclusive first look at the video below.

As they ready themselves to head back out on the road, it seemed like a pretty apt moment to find out how they’re going, and what the future holds for the foursome.

So, you’ve been on holiday?
Yeah, I went to Vienna for a week after our tour, I thought I could with a bit of culture after driving around the Midlands for our tour, so yeah, it was good.

What did you get up to?
We went to lots of art galleries, saw Klimt and all the Art Nouveau stuff; went to graveyards, looked at Mozart’s grave, Beethoven’s grave, and just got cold, generally. It was good though.

That’s better than Spain.
I look rubbish in swimming trunks so I thought best not.

How was the tour?
It was really good. It was the first tour that we’ve done in three years; it was only about nine dates, nut loads of them were really busy. It’s nice to know that people still like us, or remember us. Three years doesn’t seem too long in the grand scheme of things, but in pop terms, it’s a lifetime isn’t it. It was really good to make a lot of noise again.

Well you do make lots of noise on the new album, so that’s good. 2013 will be 10 years of Nine Black Alps – will you be doing anything special for it?
I don’t know if we’re going to do anything special for it. A lot of bands do the 10 year anniversary thing, and it seems unimaginative; I’d prefer to do another album, or another couple of albums. I don’t want to draw too much attention to the fact we’ve been around 10 years, it makes me feel really antique! It’s not that big a deal in my eyes.

‘Sirens’ is your fourth album, was it very different to how you’d written previous albums?
It was different in that there was absolutely no pressure at all, we didn’t have a label or management, or anyone expecting another album from it. I wrote it when I was inspired to write an album, rather than feeling, ‘I’ve just finished a tour, there’s somebody expecting me to write another album’. I’d been listening to a lot of rock music that was inspiring me to make rock noise again, so it was nice to have it organic like that, and there was nobody interfering from a label, because it was just us recording ourselves. We did it all really fast, just at home pretty much. It felt like being a new band again, in that respect; although we all knew each other really well, it just slotted into place nicely.

It felt, by rights, like we shouldn’t make an album again, because we’d done the whole major label thing: getting big, getting hyped, and then falling down. So most people might’ve expected we wouldn’t make an album again. But it felt nice to crank up the amps and make a bit of noise.

Is it hard to balance solo work?
I really enjoy it. It gets a bit out of control; sometimes I forget that I’ve recorded something and release it, and then forget to promote it because I’ve got too many bands and things, but I really like juggling stuff. It’s nice to have avenues for different kinds of songs. I can’t imagine being somebody who only wrote one kind of song. I think it’s because I’m a bit schizophrenic like that, if I write a rock album, then immediately I want to an acoustic album or vice versa. It feeds itself and gives me a chance to really go for it, rather than tread a middle ground.

How are Brew Records treating you?
It’s perfect for me, because all I’ve ever wanted is people who live fairly locally to me, who are easy to contact, and reply to you on the same day you send an email. They give us complete freedom to do whatever we want to do, whether it’s music, video, artwork or a t-shirt. They want to do things on a tight budget, and they want us to create everything ourselves, which makes it so much more fulfilling than when we were on Island Records, where in order to make a decision about what font to use on a poster it felt like you’d have to run it by about 20 people before you got a group consensus on how ‘this font represents us at this point in our career’. It got a bit maddening for me, and I resented it and became less involved in decisions like that. Then, further down the line, your music and your image become less representative of you. So for me, Brew are just dead straightforward and just cool.

How are you preparing for the new tour?
Just today I’ve been sat at my kitchen table with a laptop – it doesn’t sound very glamorous, but I’ve been looking at how much a van costs to hire, whose houses we can stay over at after each gig, looking into which new songs we can put in the set, to mix up up the set, looking into when we can practise because all members have different jobs, different things to do, it’s like preparing for some distant battle! So yeah, just doing the groundwork for it. We don’t have a manager or anything; I’ve never been so organised in my life, I don’t recognise myself anymore.

You mentioned new songs – are you writing new stuff already?
Yeah, we’re gonna try to do the fifth album, hopefully, just as soon as possible really. I don’t want to say when we’ll do it, but I’ve got most of it semi-written. We haven’t played any of it together yet, hopefully in the next couple of months we’ll get to try some new songs, and see what comes out. I’d like to play around with it a bit more, and go for some different sounds rather than just a straight rock thing. Make sure it’s still powerful, but maybe not so formulaic.

We can’t do Christmas covers, because I can only sing about five different notes, and we only know a few chords. We’ve never been able to do any covers, let alone Christmas ones.

Watch the new video for Nine Black Alps’ ‘Phosphorescence’ below.

Nine Black Alps’ album, ‘Sirens’, is out now on Brew Records. Their tour will take in the following dates:

16 Adelphi, Hull
17 Tavern, Blackpool
18 The Hop, Wakefield
19 Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
20 Arts Centre, Norwich
21 Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes
22 Square, Harlow