Alvarez Kings is an up-and-coming indie-rock band from Sheffield, UK. Quickly gaining popularity within their hometown, the band has gone on to become quite successful within a short amount of time. They recently were invited to be the main support for Melanie Martinez on The Cry Baby Tour. After hearing this announcement, Talk Nerdy With Us chatted with members of Alvarez Kings to get to know them a little better.
Your band gained popularity and success fairly quickly, selling out your single “The Sequel,” and Patience is Strength EP. What actions did you take to help your name take off? What were your initial reactions to the sudden notoriety? Do you think that it has changed your band dynamic in any way? If so, how? If not, has it affected you in other ways?
Simon: In terms why stuff started happening great for us locally, it was just a case of word of mouth. We used to flood our college with posters, tell everyone about the show and just put so much detail in terms of the venue itself, how we dressed. Just a lot of preparation and putting on the most memorable live performance that people couldn’t forget, this lead on to good sales with our first releases.
Paul: I remember it being pretty surprising seeing how packed the venues were in our local town. It became THE place to be for a good night out. It didn’t affect us in any way at all and still hasn’t. We will always remain grounded and respectful right to the end. It’s the way we’ve been brought up.
Simon and Paul are brothers, and though you’re not the first band to have this feature, the sibling dynamic affects everyone differently. How do you think it adds to your music? I have two younger brothers, and I don’t think we could ever play in a band together; it’d be too frustrating (laughs). Do you ever have sibling rivalry while working together, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Paul: We argue every single day! We are both very competitive by nature and demand the best and this leads to a constant locking of horns.
Simon: The weird thing: when we are on the road on long tours that can sometimes last 2 months, we argue less. It would tip the rest of the crew over the edge if it was every day.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? From whom do you get your musical influences? I saw your tribute to David Bowie on your Facebook page, may he rest in peace. What did his music, and he as an artist and person, teach you?
Sean: We grew up on our parents’ record collections. For me it was a lot of British post-punk. I know Simon and Paul have mentioned before it was always The Beatles and The Stones.
Simon: In terms of the one band that made us want to pick up an instrument and pursue this crazy business, it was when The Strokes released their debut album.
Rich: My main influence growing up tended to be mainly metal, especially bands like Metallica, Slayer, Pantera.
Paul: Bowie was one of those artists that always held something special in our hearts. For those who know us well we like a good party. Whenever we wanted to take the party up a notch Bowie would always blast out on the stereo. His music is timeless and beyond its time.
You were recently signed to Sire Records/Warner Bros. Records, releasing Fear to Feel EP through the label. From my understanding, this release signified a change in your sound from indie-rock to more pop. What brought about this change? Were there any difficulties in making this shift? Would you say there is still some kind of indie-rock influence to your music?
Simon: We wanted to make a statement. We really wanted to advance our sound and hone our craft to show people that we were ready and confident being signed to a major. I really think we achieved this and are very proud of it.
In terms of the music, the new EP takes on forever altering soundscapes ranging from electronica and deep house production through indie hooks and melody, flirting with complex time signatures and a symphonic cacophony of instrumentation and harmony, whilst maintaining its popular vigor at its core.
Sean: All of Simon’s lyrics are very personally and sometimes he struggles with conveying that which is close to his heart. The title Fear To Feel refers to being afraid to show your feelings and to do so would invite vulnerability. Apply this to a relationship and it becomes very personal.
Rich: There will always be a strong indie rock presence because essentially it’s the same typical guitar, bass drums setup. Live we go harder and louder and so you see it better reflected then.
In addition to selling out shows in your hometown, and touring the UK, you’ve participated on the Vans Warped Tour. How did the festival differ from your previous shows and tours? With whom were some of your favorite bands to hang out/play? What are some of your favorite memories from the tour? What are some of the lessons you learned from touring such a widely known event that you’ll take with you on the Cry Baby Tour with Melanie Martinez?
Simon: Every single tour brings some crazy story in the Alvarez Kings world. Many people have labelled it “The Curse of the Kings”. Warped 2015 saw the windscreen of our tour bus completely put through spraying glass through into the front lounge where we were sat drinking bourbon. Luckily we had an experienced driver who kept it together and managed to calmly slow down and pull into the lay by.
Sean: The tour is very different to other tours. I think it was Ashley from New Years Day that described it best. She said it was like punk rock summer camp. It’s a very gruelling tour with long days and sometimes harsh weather conditions from searing heat that us Brits are not used to onto hurricanes and tornadoes. I feel we are more than prepped for other tours and the hard work is what we are most prepared for on the tour with Melanie.
From participating in Warped, you were featured on Fuse TV’s second season of “Warped Roadies.” What was it like having a camera crew follow you around? What was it like seeing yourselves on TV after the episodes premiered?
Rich: It was very hard work and we had to overcome some well documented problems on the tour but at the same time we had a lot of fun and became a part of the Warped family. The issues we had with Simon was covered on the show.
It was hard because we were so down having lost our singer for a number of shows but at the same time we got on well with the crew and they managed to get some great TV out of the situation. We were happy with it.
Sean: It was surprising how natural we felt when the cameras were rolling and we began to have a lot of fun with it so yeah I reckon it would be great to get our time documented on tour again. Maybe it can provide some insider knowledge for other bands looking to tour and maybe help them out.
Your upcoming tour with Melanie Martinez must be exciting! How did you feel when you were first invited to be her main supporting band? What are you most looking forward to during the tour? What are your favorite tracks from Martinez’s debut album Cry Baby?
Paul: Very excited when we got confirmation of the tour. We are really looking forward to performing in front of new faces and visiting places we have never seen before.
Simon: I love Melanie’s take on pop music. It’s dark especially the lyrics and very personal. So we have similarities there because I write about very personal things also. My favourite at the minute is Sippy Cup. But to be honest the whole album is on repeat right now and can’t wait to see her perform the tracks live every night on the tour.
You’ll be playing additional shows with PVRIS in April following the Cry Baby Tour. Is this portion of your tour in support of anything specific like the Cry Baby Tour? What are some of the difficulties you face transitioning from being in the States for over a month to returning to the UK? What are some of the differences between touring the UK and the States?
Sean: The UK is a lot easier. We live here so know how best to tour it. And it is on a very smaller scale compared with that of America. The PVRIS actually came before the Melanie tour. We first heard of them from Warped tour and we just fell in love with them. There is a lot similarities there in terms of sound.
What have been some your favorite places to play thus far, and why? While you’re a band that’s on tour, you’re also tourists in a sense. What have been your favorite places from a tourist point of view? What are some things you’ve done while on tour that you probably wouldn’t have been able to do before?
Paul: For us Brits to just get and see some of the places we’ve seen in America always blows our mind. We are from a small town in North East England and to get to see things we only see in movies is crazy. Our first time in NYC was to perform with the band so we’re walking around starry-eyed and overwhelmed.
Simon: Canada was a beautiful place to tour and we got to see most of it from Toronto all the across to Vancouver. Niagara Falls, the Canadian Rockies. Amazing.
Finally, what are some of your plans for the near future? If you could do one thing to within the year, what would be? (It doesn’t have to be music related, but it can be!)
Rich: The next big step is recording our debut album. We have these 2 sold out shows coming up imminently and some possible festivals in the pipeline, but all focus is getting the album finished.
Check out the bands website alvarezkings.com, and listen to their “Run From You” remix below.