Interviews: Altostratus


On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the  Instrumental/Metal band Altostratus from the UK. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

Jack (Drums) came up with the name and after having said it a few times it just kind of stuck. The name is inspired by cloud formations, of which we’re very accustomed to in the North of England due to the lack of clear skies.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

We’ve all listened to metal for many a number of years and at some point we each fell in love with 2010’s Meshuggah inspired metal bands, such as Periphery, Tesseract, and Chimp Spanner. We wanted to make riffs reminiscent of this style because they are the grooviest and most interesting to listen to in our opinion. We don’t like everything in this genre, but if it’s got a tasty syncopated groove you can be sure we’ll probably dig it.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Jack (Drums) and Alex (Guitar) have known each other for a long time and have had a close musical relationship since the age of 13. They’ve played together a lot and used to jam Metalcore covers in Jack’s bedroom before forming a wedding band together in 2012/13. It was 2014 when they took an interest in modern progressive metal and decided to start writing music together and create the Altitude EP (2015). I (Andrew) met the guys through a mutual friend of ours who was recording the EP for his university degree made up of Jack and Alex's songs. Our friend asked me to play bass on the recordings, I ended up getting on really well with the guys musically and personally so we decided to keep the project going. When looking for a second guitar player, I accidentally stumbled across Jordan’s (Guitar) YouTube channel, I thought he was a great player and then noticed that he lived in our area, and even studied at the same college. After inviting him to hang out with us and jam, our line up was complete. We’ve been great friends working together since.

4. Each band member favorite band?

We'll give you everyone's favourite Metal, and non-Metal bands:

Andrew – Meshuggah / The Strokes

Alex – TesseracT / Tom Misch

Jordan - The Contortionist / Ólafur Arnalds

Jack – Periphery / Jack only listens to Metal 

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

We all have a genuine love and passion for music and performing. There's something incredibly satisfying about playing this kind of music together live, it's like all the hours and years you've put into this finally come into fruition for a while. The inspiration to write is to create more energy like that, so we can keep pushing and expressing ourselves. With instrumental music like ours, it’s difficult to convey a direct message. You can have a theme of what a song is supposed to sound like or a vibe given through the names and artwork. But ultimately, it's about energy and mood, we try to imprint that onto our records and generate that during our shows.

6. Where was your last gig?

At the Head Of Steam in Newcastle for our album launch party, we were joined by our friends in Okeya, Thesis Lives, and Dutch Elm. It was an awesome party and towards the end of the night we managed to co-ordinate 3 Walls of Death in one song. It made us feel very proud to be from where we're from and showed that the scene can still thrive.

7. Where would you like to perform?

We’d love to perform in the US sometime, that’s definitely a dream of ours. In the UK we’d absolutely love to play at Download Festival and ArcTangent Festival. Our kind of music is very popular over in India, you hear about bands like Intervals and Skyharbor playing over there and being very well received so that'd be great too.

8. Whom would you like to perform with?

Probably CHON, Polyphia, and a band called Fractalize from Moldova that I (Alex) recently discovered. All these guys are in a similar vein to us as and are widdly instrumental bands, I think that would be an amazing bill. And Meshuggah, of course.

9. Whom not?

There's this band who are on a similar level to us in the UK Tech Metal scene called Pravitas. We did a tour with them a couple years ago and it was one of the most fun experiences we've had as a band, we got on really well with the Pravitas guys and we really like their music, they performed very tightly as well and sounded great every night. We have another tour scheduled with them this year across Scotland and England in April, you can get tickets and check dates at altostratusband.com. So yeah, not looking forward to performing with them again...

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that? 

I (Andrew) have had more of a problem with anxiety just before performing (sometimes the whole day leading up to the show), I keep in mind that once the show starts and I get into it, all that anxiety will fade away and I'll just be able to enjoy performing. What helps with our music is being well practiced and nicely warmed-up. It's like a job interview, you can't totally eliminate the anxiety but if you've prepared enough, then once it starts you'll almost go into autopilot and nail it. I've grown to actually like the nerves, it makes you feel alive, it's one of the unique and rewarding things about playing music.

As a tip for beginners I would suggest getting out and playing in public as much as you possibly can. Nerves and stage fright are inevitable in public performances but the more you play in front of a crowd the less these become. One day you start to love the stage, but it just takes a bit of experience. Busking in the street can also be a good way to overcome stage fright.

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

We all listen to a lot of different kinds of music and try to distill all of it into what we do. Our sound is derivative of our individual inspirations but all mixed together. Whilst our album – Complete The Connection – is at it's heart a Progressive Metal album, there's hints of Post Rock in songs like Starlight and Complete The Connection, a full blown Jon Hopkins inspired electronic tune in the middle (Universal Receiver), and in every track there are background layers and production inspired my ambient artists like Nils Frahm and Brian Eno. We couldn't resist throwing in some Meshuggah inspired poly-rhytmic breakdowns throughout, but with our own soundscape and unique spin on them.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Our multi-talented Drummer (Jack) is also a luthier for his own guitar brand, Azura Guitars. He has made numerous Guitars for both Alex and Jordan over the years. When we get talking to our fans after shows, the topic of gear quickly comes up and fans often get excited at the prospect of commissioning Jack to make them a custom guitar. He's just one guy in his shed in the north Of England so he can't round to everyone, but it's a nice compliment nonetheless.

13. What do you think of your fans?

We were very humbled and grateful for the turnout to our album launch the other week, for every one that headbanged and bought merch or just came and said hi. There's been talks about a decline in band's local scenes going on for a few years now, but our fans proved the other night that people are still willing to come out. We hope they get something out of our records, whether it's what we intended or not. And we thank them wholeheartedly for their support.

14. What do you think of our site?

It’s great! I dig the diverse range of content and the willingness to cover anything, regardless of genre. It's a bit of a reflection of where music fans' minds our in this current climate. The walls between genres are coming down and people are more willing to listen to as many different types of music as they want, no one feels as restricted anymore. Your website encourages this, which is a very positive thing.

15. Something to add?

Check out our brand new debut album - Complete The Connection - available at altostratusband.com. We’ve spent the last 4 years working on this and making sure the record flows from start to finish. We really believe that this is an epic piece of music that’s worth checking out if you’re into Progressive Metal, Math- Rock, or any nerd-y/instrumental music.

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