Living The Dream with alt-J
We chat setlists, tips for long flights, tour memories and more with the beloved English indie icons ahead of their Australian tour
In an age of streaming and playlists, it's comforting to know that some artists still embrace the album format as an important medium in their musical creative process. One band that exemplifies this is alt-J, who over a ten year stretch have delivered four studio albums, each of them becoming instant fan favourites while pushing the group’s sound forward.
From An Awesome Wave in 2012 to last year’s instant-classic The Dream, the trio of Joe Newman (vocals, guitar), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboard) and Thom Green (drums) have established themselves as one of the world’s most cherished indie acts, both in the studio and on the live stage.
Excitingly for Australian audiences, the band will be making their long awaited return down under touring The Dream across a number of headline shows, as well as playing two An Awesome Wave 10th anniversary shows in Sydney and Melbourne (see below for all dates).
Ahead of the tour, we checked in with Gus to chat about everything from compositional creative process to tips for long flights, the difference between playing headline shows and festivals, what he’s been listening to lately and more!
Stoked the Australia/NZ tour is finally happening! How do you as a band deal with postponements and has this changed since COVID?
Before Covid we never had to postpone shows, so it was a shock to us to have to do it. It’s always a last resort to us as we know how hard it is on fans. But these have been crazy times for the touring industry.
It’s been over a decade since your first Australian shows back in 2012, do you have any memories of these gigs?
We had never had a welcome before like the ones we got down under. It was incredible to come somewhere so far from home and feel so welcome and loved.
What do you enjoy most about playing in Australia?
It feels like being on holiday and being at home at the same time.
What are your long haul flight tips for touring?
Have a few drinks, but not all the drinks. Nothing worse than a mid-flight hangover kicking in. Also, politely refuse one of the meals: a real power play.
What is your approach to putting together setlists? How does this differ for festival shows compared to headline shows?
Festivals are all about playing the hits. You are literally competing for your audience. At headline gigs you can play a few deeper cuts as we literally lock the doors of the venue.
Is how songs can be played live ever a consideration in your composition process, or do you worry about that after the songs have been written and recorded?
Definitely the latter. It always works out in the end and nothing should compromise the studio creativity.
It’s hard to believe The Dream has been out for over a year now! Are you guys working on new music at the moment, anything you can share?
We are always working on new ideas in the background. Watch this space, but give us time…
What have you guys been listening to lately?
I really love an album by Ellie Gowers called Dwelling by the Weir. I saw her twice at Bromyard Folk Festival last year and she was great.
Tue Apr 18 - Spark Arena - Auckland (w/ Harper Finn)
Wed Apr 26 - Hordern Pavilion - Sydney (w/ Royel Otis)
Thu Apr 27 - Riverstage - Brisbane (w/ Royel Otis)
Wed May 3 - Margaret Court Arena - Melbourne (w/ Royel Otis)
Sun May 7 - HBF Stadium - Perth (w/ Royel Otis)
Tue Apr 25 - Metro Theatre - Sydney (w/ Royel Otis)
Tue May 2 - Northcote Theatre - Melbourne (w/ Royel Otis)