Interviewing Alpha Male Tea Party is no mean feat.
When I first interviewed the trio, back when Ben had only just joined the band and I was but a young, beardless pup, the conversation veered off topic within the first few minutes…
Catching up with them early afternoon on the Friday of this year’s ArcTanGent Festival, it appears that their interview patter has only gotten worse (or better, depending on how you look at it.)
“I don’t remember any of that” says a confused drummer Greg, the topic of conversation being a late night harmonising session with bassist Ben.
“I’m drinking Aspall organic 7% cider.” says guitarist Tom moments later (which sounds like an Alan Partridge-esque endorsement) “We were just joking about that earlier…about how I was personally sponsored by Aspall cider. I’m not, but I’d like to be – if they’re listening.”
Thursday afternoon saw Alpha Male Tea Party open up the festival, taking part in one of the most talked about moments of its three year history. Along with their bezzie mates Cleft, the trio put on an insane live medley (particular props for the Slayer riffage), sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“Probably the greatest gig of our entire lives.” Grins Ben on reflection “Definitely the best time I’ve ever had on a stage.”
“I’ve never actually played speed metal on my guitar before.” Admits Tom “I’ve actually developed an injury as a result of playing Slayer on my guitar.”
Following on from their debut at last year’s ArcTanGent, which was a bit of a ‘proud parent’ moment for quite a few people in the crowd, this year the trio were a bit wiser when it came to what to expect. “It was fucking nice, you know, “ continues Tom “we kind of learned from last year not to be apprehensive about being on early. When we were on at 11, we were like…” A bout of flatulence interrupts, sending them into fits of hysterics, before Ben steers us back on topic. “This year was amazing. Again, there was no one else on. Everyone just kind of pushed their way into the tent. We’d set up and it was kind of half full, then we went off and we come back on 30 seconds later and we’re like – Jesus, there’s people and they’re everywhere. We had banners!”
The appearance of specially made banners in the crowd weren’t the only sweet moments to come from the ArcTanGent faithful, as Tom comments “One thing that was really fucking cool – last year we threw out boxes of cereal, and either the same boxes or someone went and actually bought some boxes of cereal and threw them back at us.”
“I laced a couple back into the crowd” smiles Ben.
“The whole festival’s got an incredible atmosphere.” Comments Ben, continuing “Everyone who comes here is just…there’s no pretention. Everyone’s here to have a great time. A lot of people who come here are either in the bands, they put on the bands or they go to a lot of shows. It’s a really nice tight knit community”
“There’s always people who you’ll see again. Returning friends, like you’ve come back from war” laughs Greg.
“I feel a bit like I’m in my living room when I’m at ArcTanGent…” says Tom, with Greg quite rightly catching him out “You middle class bastard!”
A sure sign that the ArcTanGent faithful are keen on Alpha Male Tea Party; at last year’s festival every cunt was wearing one of their shirts. It became apparent that they were on daft amount of merch sales, and it’s even been rumoured that they were in the top 5 sales of the weekend. This year was pretty much the same, with seemingly everyone sporting the new fax machine cat design!
Now a year on from the release of their brilliant second album Droids, it’s good to hear that the trio are working toward a follow up (a title of ‘Squat Thrusting into the Heart of the Sun’ being unconfirmed at this point) with Tom commenting that they’re writing again. Work is set to begin properly once they’re back from their super exciting European tour in mid-October (featuring heartthrobs Axes and Cleft.)
“We’d like to take quite a bit of time off to do some writing.” Admits Ben “We tend to find that we write better when we’re in a nice ‘harmonious environment’ and we don’t feel pressured”
“We usually get to a point where we do a bit and then have a few gigs to split it up a bit, and then go back to it and be like – oh well, that’s a bit shit that” laughs Greg.
“It’s been a bit of a slow grind to get back into gear with writing and stuff,” confirms Tom “but I think we’re feeling it a bit more. Droids did really well for us, for a band on our level…we’ve not really felt a need to start writing until that’s over.”
Sensing a lack of sarcasm in their answers, Tom amps up the press talk – fully pressing forward the diversity of the new record and what we can expect of it “This new album, we’re gonna go in a totally new direction. We’re really stripping it back. We’re gonna use a maximum of two chords in every song…Big pop choruses. Lots of things about breaking up”
“Real life experiences that really draw the listener in” adds Ben.
“We’re gonna be making waves in your local scene” concludes Tom, before taking another sip of his delicious Aspall’s organic cider.
The above only really scrapes the surface of the wonderful interview we conducted at ArcTanGent. To listen to the whole thing is highly recommended, and luckily enough you can do so below.