Friday, April 30, 2010

Must Hear Indie Music: Interview with Alta Mira

With the help of the intense vocals from Joe D. Michon-Huneau and a mixture of progressive meets alternative rock, Alta Mira's sound is the epitome of today’s indie rock scene with their edgy yet haunting sound that punches through the garbled masses of rehashed music. His amazing voice has the charisma in likes of Ryan Tedder of One Republic and Isaac Slade of The Fray, but with more power and intense emotion.

Alta Mira may not exactly sound like the aforementioned artists, but they have the potential to measure up along side these two famous bands and could easily earn the title of “Best Indie Rock Band of Year”. If it was possible for an artist to paint a picture of their music, each song is a work of art in the form of sound.

The idea of Alta Mira started in Albany, NY in 2004 as the band, Milo. In 2006, the band shifted from acoustic to a more electric sound, thus calling them selves Alta Mira. From there, they started touring with Canadian band, The Join, Lisa Germano an indie artist from Washington D.C., a Bob-Dylan-esc sounding band called, The Felice Brothers, prog rock band, U-Melt, electro rock band from San Fernando, CA, She Wants Revenge, and New Jersey rock band, Steel Train.

Originally, your band started in 2004 as Milo. When you changed to Alta Mira, who left and who stayed?

Well, That's not entirely true. We toyed around with names, including Milo, for quite a while before we settled on Alta Mira. We've had the same members throughout.
How different was your sound before compared to now?
We played mostly acoustic in coffee shops...Since we weren't old enough to play bars. When we were able to afford nicer gear and some decent fake IDs our sound started to evolve a bit. We started writing songs differently, taking structure, melodies, harmonies, etc. more into consideration.
You are originally from Boston, right? Where is everyone from?
We've all lived in Massachusetts at various points in our lives but none of us are from Boston; that's just where we've done all of our recording. Joe is from the Albany, NY area, Tommy is from Western NY, and the Sagehorn brothers grew up in San Jose, CA.
Did you all meet in college?
We didn't meet in college, but we all lived in the Albany area. We met in ordinary, everyday life by chance.
Are you still going to school?
Three of us studied music performance in college but left after a few years. Joe recently graduated this past January with a writing degree.
Because you’re from Massachusetts, are the audiences more receptive to your performances or are your stage performances the same no matter where you go?
Our stage performances tend to vary depending on where we're playing and what the atmosphere is like. Being based in Albany, we have a good amount of fans in the area that are familiar with our sound.
You signed with Indian Ledge Records in 2007 and created your first album entitled The Fables and Fabrications and more recently, you released your second which is self-titled. Do you feel like this new album is your best work?
We're happy with The Fables and Fabrications EP as a first release, but our new album was a much more ambitious project. We put a lot more time and effort into this album so it did come out different. So, in that way we do feel it's our best work as far as our studio recordings go. We tried really hard to pay more attention to dynamics and production on the self-titled album. We have instances where we feel extremely accomplished, but we are always looking to advance some aspect even if it's perfect for that moment.
Who is the writer?
Our songs are all written collaboratively.
Does creating music get easier over time or is it easier when you have a Grammy award winning studio engineers like Corin Nelsen and Bob Ludwig doing the magic behind the scenes?
All of the music on the new album was written and arranged prior to the recording, which we produced ourselves. We were incredibly lucky to have Corin Nelson and Bob Ludwig to mix and master the album. They really polished the sound and the dynamics of the entire record and we can't thank them enough.
Do the lyrics reflect a personal story or a common theme throughout?
The lyrics reflect the mood of the music but there is no common theme. Each song tells its own story.
Some artists have a collection of written songs that they wrote throughout their lives. When you create lyrics to a song, does the music come first or the words or the same time?
The music is always written first. Joe then brings melodies and lyrics to each song.
Which song is your personal favorite?
Right now we're pretty excited about a new song called "Red Red." There's no studio recording of it yet but there is a video on Youtube of us rehearsing it.
Between “Tambourine” and “Mother, Child” I am at a tie for Alta Mira’s best song. Based on audience reactions, which song is the fan favorite?
We usually get a big response from "Sinker/Or" off the new album and "Sifting Through The Dust" off the EP.
Any news you’d like to openly share with the readers?
We worked with The Chase Factory to create a video for our song "Slumberjack," which can be found online along with our music. I especially suggest the video to anyone interested in pixilation and stop motion.
What is in store for Alta Mira for 2010 and 2011?
We're constantly working on new music and are in the planning stages of recording this summer or fall.
Do you have a tour lined up for summer 10’?
At the moment we're setting up a small tour throughout the northeast and we're open to requests on which towns to visit.
Are you currently in the studio working on a new album, or is this it for awhile?
For now we're concentrating on getting this album out there but we're planning to experiment with some self recording in the near future. We already have a fistful of new songs ready.

Find more of Alta Mira:
Purchase their self-titled EP and their debut EP, The Fables and Fabrications on
Alta Mira official website
Check out their MySpace
Join them on Facebook

Who is Alta Mira? Hunter - Guitar, August - Bass, Joe - Vocals, Tommy - Drums

-by Michael J

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