Friday, May 14, 2010
What makes this band stand out from the rest is The Alternates have two incredible drummers, Matt Walker and Erwin Solis. Matt has formal training and is the most experienced, but without Erwin, the band would lose their depth and the very essence that makes them, The Alternates.
The main star of the band has to be lead singer, guitarist, and song writer, Spencer Livingston. Spencer delivers the goods with his robust but gentle voice that easily compares closely to Michael Stipe of R.E.M.
Overall the band stands alone with a unique and unmatched modern rock sound that is incomparable to other popular artists, which makes The Alternates an innovative pioneer of modern music.
The perfect example of the bands unique elements are with songs like, “Should Have” and “It Seems Useless”, and “Who Can You Trust”. While each song stands apart from each other, they no doubt reflect a creative energy and explosive 90’s style of rock.
Listen to a 4-track preview with special guest, lead singer and guitarist, Spencer Livingston only on The Great Unknowns Presents
Interivew with Spencer Livingston:
One of the rare things about The Alternates that most bands don’t have is you have two drummers. How did that come about?
We basically all met in school which was a magnet school called SOCES. It went from 4th-12th grade so we have all known each other since either 4th or 5th grade. When we were putting the band together in 10th grade, I had written all these songs and we didn't really know what approach to take with some of them live. Matt had been drumming for us at the time and Erwin was a good friend who just happened to play drums. One day Erwin brought over his kit and we set it up right next to Matt's kit. Both of the drummers had one song that I wrote called "Walking Disaster" memorized. We played the song one time through flawlessly and it sounded so good. We ended up just keeping the two kits for our whole live set.
Ever since we started, people have been telling us "this is your year" of "this will be the year you break through and have a huge hit". We don't really think about that. I mean don't get me wrong, it would be nice to have a little recognition but as long as we have fans coming out to our shows, thats all that really matters to us.
Generally what is your music about? Do you have a reoccurring theme in the lyrics?
I usually write about experiences, observations and people. I like to be a fly on the wall sometimes. If you are going to be a songwriter, you have to be able to connect with different kinds of people. Its fun to observe different kinds of people in different situations because there are a million things you can write about it.
The creative process is a mystery to me and I'm sure if you ask any other musician, they won't understand it either. We don't really have a system for writing songs. Sometimes a guitar riff will come first or maybe I will just have some lyrics and we will work around that. A lot of the time, I will have a chord progression on guitar and a vocal melody that I think sounds nice with that progression. I will just use the melody and write the lyrics around the melody the way I think it should sound. Thats my favorite way to do it.
What are some of the bands music influences? What bands do you like?
Personally I have been listening to a lot of Wilco lately. I also listen to a lot of Autolux, Neil Young, Radiohead, The Strokes and The Kinks. When I was young, my dad got me into a lot of the older stuff before I really got into newer rock music. When I was fifteen I was listening to The Who, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Byrds, BB King and everything in between. I think a lot of these older influences have stuck with me through the years. At least I hope they have.
What have people told you that you sound like?
Whenever someone tells me that my voice reminds them of someone else, I never agree with them. One time someone said I sound like Iggy Pop. I was like "WTF? really? thats the best comparison you could come up with?" I have nothing against Iggy Pop, but that comparison is a pretty big stretch.
Who is the writer of the band?
I write the lyrics and melody for the songs and usually the whole band collaborates on the music and structure.
What song is the bands favorite song to perform on stage?
I like playing the songs that we don't usually get to play. We have so many songs to chose from, its hard to chose when we are picking songs for a set list. If we don't play "Should Have" or "It Seems Useless" though people tend to get mad so we always do those. personally, my favorite song to play is "Dream" but the atmosphere needs to be right and it definitely doesn't work in a loud bar or anything like that since its so intimate.
Is there a particular song that you are most proud of?
No not really. I always like the newest song that I am working on best. I think its like that with any kind of art. I don't really listen to our own recordings. I mean occasionally I will put one of our tunes on but its a little
weird listening to yourself.
Are you adding new songs to your library?
Yes very soon! We are working on three new songs at the moment and we don't really know what we are going to do with them. Two of them are really up tempo songs and the other is a mid tempo acid trip.
When can fans expect some new material?
This summer 2010. At the moment we are negotiating a record deal with new indie label Canvas Eye Music. They have offered to help us with the funds to record and distribute our first real album as well as a tour to follow. Its just a matter of negotiating now and making sure everyone is happy.
This summer we are planning on starting the recording process in late June. We will start booking shows for tour along the way so keep an eye out for news and tour dates.
The Alternates are:
Spencer Livingston- Vocals/Guitar
Tristan Esmundo- Guitar/Vocals
Kevin Solis- Bass/Vocals
Erwin Solis- Drums
Matt Walker- Drums
Jake Craven- Keyboard/Trombone/Stand Up Bass
Find more of The Alternates at:
The Alternates presented by The Great Unknowns Presents, Ep 63
by Mikey Jayy