There was a lot of well-deserved buzz surrounding Alpine after their 2012 debut album. The band’s particular style of dreamy sugar-pop complemented by the harmonising vocals of duo Phoebe and Lou hit all the right notes with audiences. Their success resulted in an international tour, as well as the band’s US television debut. After arriving on the scene so notably, people naturally have high expectations of the follow up. But Alpine aren’t worried, especially not childhood friends Phoebe and Lou. In face when faced with the pressure they shrug it off and simple say, “Yuck.”
What’s it like fronting a band with your friend beside you?
Phoebe: We’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve lived together. We’ve travelled together. We’ve toured together. We’ve spent a lot of time away from each other. We’ve argued heaps. And had probably too many absurd laughs about nothing. We’ve got a pretty strong friendship and I think that’s so important in terms of the band. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think I’d want to be up there on my own. It makes for a fun and more safe experience having a friend there.
Lou: It’s like Thelma and Louise.
Phoebe: I haven’t seen that [laughs].
Lou: Oh my gosh! Well it’s like that.
There are a lot of members in the band, how does that dynamic work?
Phoebe: Luckily we’re all friends and we’ve had all of the fights and all of the gross tour van times. We’ve spent a lot of time in very close quarters with each other so you learn to let things go. We all get along.
Lou: We’re pretty much like siblings. I think we’ve just been doing it for so long it’s like a weird marriage/family relationship.
How does it work when it comes to writing the music?
Phoebe: Writing the music is a collaborative process. It generally starts with Christian, Tim, me, and Lou but it’s everyone pitching in. Me and Lou always write the lyric and the melody, and sometimes instrumental and arrangement ideas. Christian and Tim mainly write the seeds of the songs. But we jam on it and it evolves differently each time.
Lou: Phoebs and I have known each other since we were thirteen so we’re definitely on the same page. I think that makes it so much easier writing the themes for most of the songs on the album. It works really organically and it’s always a lot of fun. It’s challenging and it’s always a different experience each time. It’s definitely become a lot easier since the last album to now.
You’re second album, the brilliantly titled, Yuck is about to come out. What can you tell us about it?
Lou: The title Yuck came from the song ‘Foolish’. We didn’t come up with the title until we’d finished the record. Same with the artwork, we didn’t do that until the very end either. I think that meant that we kept everything really open and we didn’t pigeonhole ourselves in any way. Yuck ended up just really reflecting a lot of themes of the album.
How does it differ from your first album?
Lou: Our first album looked at similar themes but we were a lot younger. We were in our early-twenties trying to figure out these challenges and obstacles and feeling a bit overwhelmed but not knowing how to communicate it. This album: we’re in our late-twenties, realising we’re still there but knowing yourself a bit more. And now being able to laugh at it and realise that life is just yuck but it is wonderful and strange.
People talk about “second album syndrome” did you feel pressure coming off the back of a successful first album?
Phoebe: No, I don’t think we did. I think Yuck kind of reflects that like, “yuck” to that feeling of pressure. We kind of put the pressure of the sophomore album away because I don’t think you’d be able to write well if you felt that tension the whole time. I wouldn’t want to feel affected by having some kind of expectation. I like writing in the moment and seeing what happens, developing from there.
Lou: Realistically—you can’t create something twice. No matter what happened we were going to be creating something different to the first album. Whether that’s a positive or negative thing we’ll have to wait and see. We were all really stoked with the new album. Regardless of what happens, we’re really happy. So—whatevs.
Your live shows have a lot of energy, movement, and action. Is that how you always wanted them to be?
Lou: We always started moving to the music because we liked it. We did theatre at school together but also Phoebe really likes Grace Jones and I really like Kate Bush. You can create music but going to a live show you want to give that visual element to it. This album I think a lot of the songs have a slightly slower tempo, there’s more of groove whereas the first album was probably more manic. I don’t really know how we’re going to be moving now. I feel like it might have more of a sassy element to it.
Phoebe: Who knows. We just like to put on a show, we don’t want to just stand there. It’s kind of cathartic for us. You’ve got this awesome forum, you’re on stage, you’re only going to have it for who knows how long in your life—you may as well be provocative or not provocative, just be what you want in that moment and let it all out.
Is that a good feeling?
Lou: It’s like therapy. Like if you went for a run or to the gym. You just get to throw off all that built up energy but also be a bit courageous.
Phoebe: It’s very exposing though. Sometimes you’ll get on stage and be like, “Oh I just want to go to bed, watch telly, or do a crossword”. Instead you’re on stage and have to do an hour worth of songs.
Lou: But it’s worth it. You get to meet incredible people after the show. People tell you these stories of how a song might have touched them in some way. I remember the first time I saw someone singing along to the lyrics. It took me a really long time to learn the lyrics myself.
Phoebe: It’s really funny when you’re watching someone singing the lyrics and they’re singing the wrong thing [laughs]. It’s lovely.
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