INTERVIEW: Alvarez Kings Talk Debut Album, Touring With Melanie Martinez, & More

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Photo: David Drake

Hailing from South Yorkshire in the UK, Alvarez Kings have made a solid impression on audiences across the pond. The four-piece band spent most of 2016 touring the globe with pop star Melanie Martinez and garnering close to a million streams on Spotify alone. 

After earning attention from BBC Radio, Billboard magazine, and the Huffington Post, the indie-rock band is ready to unleash their debut album. Somewhere Between is due for release on April 14. The 11-track album was recorded with producer Carlos De La Garza, who previously recorded with Jimmy Eat World and Paramore. 

Pre-order Somewhere Between here.

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The full track listing for Somewhere Between is as follows:

  1. Cold Conscience
  2. Otherside
  3. Postcards
  4. Tell Tale Heart
  5. Picking Up The Pieces
  6. Run From You
  7. Sleepwalking
  8. Fear To Feel
  9. Tortured
  10. No Resolve
  11. Somewhere Between

Although Alvarez Kings currently don’t have any North American tour dates scheduled, they will be playing shows in Germany and the UK this April. Tickets are available here.

Learn more about Alvarez Kings in our exclusive interview below, as we discuss touring with Melanie Martinez, discovering supporting acts, working on their debut record, and loving Flume.  

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Photo: David Drake

OTW: You’ve mentioned that setting yourself apart from other indie bands is important to you. What are some key elements that make you unique in the genre?

Alvarez Kings: I think coming from the North of England, especially in the Sheffield and even South Yorkshire music scene, it was really easy to fall in the same category as bands who were thriving at the same time, such as Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, and also across the Pennines in Manchester such as The Courteeners. Once you’re in a guitar band and mix that with a northern accent, I think it’s hard for people to differentiate.

Once Sean joined the band, he brought his production elements that we always lacked. Being able to create and record songs from a laptop was a major turning point as it opened our world to a whole host of different sounds and techniques that’s quite difficult and even impossible to create when you’re a loud guitar band just thrashing away in a small box for a rehearsal space. We always wanted that ‘80s synth vibe that we kind of grow up on, but that’s some expensive equipment to be able to do that. Having Logic and ProTools gave us the soundscapes that we always dreamed of.

OTW: You’ve just released the video for “Sleepwalking Pt. II.” What was the experience like? How does the video represent the meaning behind song?

Alvarez Kings: We had great fun making the video. To have the opportunity to fly out to Ireland and visit such a beautiful part of the world such as Rosslare in County Wexford was something that we will always cherish. That’s the beauty of being in a band, traveling around the globe you stumble across these little pockets of wonder that you probably would never think to travel to or even exist. 

Well, the song is about being lost between two worlds and not knowing where you fit in society and at times unsure which world you are living in. Whether it be on tour or at home, sometimes you just wake up and wonder what the hell is going on. I think the director James Fitzgerald did a great job in capturing this in the video, and the actor Mitja Smilanic did an awesome job.

OTW: Congrats on your first full length album! What was your goal with this set of songs and how do you hope fans react/feel when listening?

Alvarez Kings: With this being our debut album, we’ve had most of the songs for quite a while so we always kind of knew which songs would make the cut. They were never quite finished or even produced, so we wanted to make the album somewhere that would inspire us to produce and finish the songs in an almost regimented album kind of way.

We were lucky enough to discover Carlos De La Garza who is based in LA so we jumped at the chance of working with him and also soaking up the vibe and the surroundings. It’s important to get your Vitamin D.

I don’t feel like we’ve strayed too far from the bumpy and beaten up path that is the Alvarez sound. So far, we’ve had so much positivity from the two songs that we have already put out so we are really excited for every to hear the full album. We hope it persuades people to put down their laptops, phones and other such devices and draws people to one of our live shows to experience music in its most purist and honest form. Ultimately we hope people love it, cherish it and we would love to make another record for everyone.

OTW: Last year you supported Melanie Martinez on tour. How was the experience? What do you like/dislike about being the supporting act versus being the main act?

Alvarez Kings: We had a great 2016, and Melanie had a lot to do with that. We toured for two months in America and two months in Europe supporting Mel, which was awesome. Some of the biggest venues and crowds we have ever played to which was fun. We also made so many new friends and fans along the way–it’s hard to see anything negative about that. The long drives were pretty treacherous.

Being the support act is a little more relaxing because your main objective is to warm up the crowd and give them your best set in hopes that the crowd connect. Luckily, we somehow managed to connect so well with Melanie’s fans that at times it almost felt like the crowd already knew us and we had fans already. I guess people did their research on us before the shows when we were announced.

Noting beats that feeling when you are the headline band, and everyone has bought a ticket to specifically come and see you. It still blows my mind, and I can’t ever see that feeling going away.

OTW: Now that you’ve performed in the states (with Melanie Martinez and at Vans Warped Tour 2015) and in Europe, which audience is your favorite to perform to? Where else would you like to perform - any spots on your bucket list?

Alvarez Kings: It’s funny because every scenario is different some way. The crowds on Warped Tour were so much different to the Melanie Martinez crowds in America and then again still different in Europe. There was a lot more similarities of the Melanie crowds in both continents because they are just crazy. But the best kind of crazy.

We just love being on tour and playing in front of people night after night. Our live shows are what we are all about and what we grew up doing as kids. I don’t feel there is a preference in different audiences but I do feel Americans are way more relaxed at having a good show and not afraid to let themselves go.

We would love to play in South America and Asia – that would be so awesome. Also some of the major festivals out in the states like Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.

OTW: You’re embarking on a European tour in April to support the album. Any particular dates you’re excited for?

Alvarez Kings: We’re excited for the whole tour and every single date. It seems like forever since we last went on tour. We are really looking forward to playing the full album live for everyone, and also the album will already be out so there’s no excuses for not knowing the words.

We always have a soft spot for Berlin since one of our songs is called “Postcards From Berlin,” and we’ve had some good times over the years in that city.

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OTW: I’m interested to know why you took to Facebook to search for supporting acts for your upcoming string of May dates. What are you looking for when you pick a supporting act?

Alvarez Kings: We remember when we were first starting out. It’s so difficult to get a show with a touring band. We wanted to reach out to our fans who may have friends in bands or even local bands that they love to go see play live in bars. We’ve had so many opportunities over the last couple of years supporting bands that we wanted to give something back to the younger aspiring bands. We also invited our friends Future Thieves from Nashville to support us as they have never been outside of the states. It’s going to be a fun tour. I don’t think we are particularly looking for anything specific in a support act, maybe a similar genre at least. I don’t think a metal band would go down too well at one of our shows.

OTW: Who are three artists on your Ones To Watch list and why?

Alvarez Kings: Local Natives – We’ve been fans of these guys for a good few years now ever since their debut album. They make such intelligent indie/rock/pop songs that we aspire to. They’re really amazing live too and their vocal harmonies are ridiculous. They’re latest album Sunlit Youth is incredible.

Jack Garratt – This dude is phenomenal live, and his album is so good. He makes modern pop melodies and does amazing things with his voice and then builds it around an electronic/house based production and then performs it live all by himself. The guy’s a genius.

Flume – The second album Skin has been on repeat in the Alvarez Kings van for some time now. It’s like our go-to album. It also just won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic album. Flume is a musician/composer/producer that we really look up to. We love his work so much. His blend of genres such as industrial, deep house, dubstep, minimal and hip hop is so sick. We can’t wait to catch Flume live.

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