Upon arriving at their local haunt, Peckham hotspot The Montague Arms, the first thing the three present members of ALASKALASKA do is apologise for the absence of the other half of the band.
“Look, these are the jazz boys!” vocalist Lucinda John-Duarte exclaims, pulling out a polaroid shot of three topless men on a poolside from her purse. Her two bandmates then proceed to do the same. “We all keep a photo of them close to us,” she continues. “They get flown all over Europe to talk about jazz music and we just steal them for a while when they’re back in London to come and jam in a room with us for a while.”
The six-piece have a polarising make-up, with Lucinda, guitarist Calum Duncan and bassist Fraser Rieley bringing backgrounds in pop and rock, joined by the affectionately labelled jazz boys on drums, keyboards and saxophone. It’s a blend of backgrounds that mould together perfectly on the band’s brilliant pair of debut singles, ‘Bitter Winter’ and ‘Familiar Ways’.
Initially powered by vocal hooks and sweet guitar lines, the former track and band’s first official single disappears off down a sharp tangent full of screeching sax, a fitting counterpart to Lucinda’s slinky, often despairing lyrics. “I’ve been waiting for the bad news ever since it all began,” she sings on ‘Familiar Ways’, but there’s an innate hope to the band’s music, a togetherness that’s immediately apparent when meeting them.
“There’s such a positive scene down here at the moment.”
— Calum Duncan
The band were last at the Montague for a show with fellow newcomer Mellah, a gig so sold out that the crowd literally spilled out of the venue’s front door. “There’s such a positive scene down here at the moment,” Calum begins, “and it spans genre. It’s more of an ethos that brings us all together rather than a sound,” citing the burgeoning scenes bubbling up around Peckham currently as a source of inspiration, with Jerkcurb and Puma Blue just two of the bands ALASKALASKA see as counterparts. “London’s so massive and scary, but it feels like we’re making this little microclimate down here that feels really comfortable - we should just never go north of the river!”
“We’re not too sure about the future, or how quickly everything is going to move,” Lucinda comments when pondering the band’s next steps, but the diversity of their debut singles throw the door wide open for their future. For now though, she’s just thinking about when the six-piece will next get to be in a room together. Oh, and unsuccessfully trying to convince her bandmates of the genius of Love Island. The second aim might prove fruitless, but ALASKALASKA are already appearing as frontrunners in a scene that’s making this part of South London shine right now.
ALASKALASKA’s debut AA-side ‘Bitter Winter / Familiar Ways’ is out now via Marathon/House Anxiety.
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