Altered Sky are in the midst of a two-tour schedule, promoting a new album, garnering sponsors like there’s no tomorrow and eyeing up the United States… As such we’re really grateful that guitarist Richard Passe had the time to answer a few questions for us!
I would ask what you’re up to but there’s so much it would take you half the interview to list it! Your first gig on the Pulp tour was in Glasgow. Despite the technical issues that stopped you streaming, how did that go?
The Pulp tour was pretty sweet – we met loads of fans young and old as well as people who poked their noses around the doors of the shop to have a listen. Lots of them stuck around to listen to our full set and a couple decided they were fans on the spot and have now joined our street team, just from a chance encounter! A big shout out as well to our tour buddies Beyond Recall who we’re touring with again in a couple of weeks.
We’ve done a couple of Pulp tours now, and it’s still a bit surreal: mostly because we’re a rock band – we get all excited to play, and then have to rein ourselves in, sit down and play acoustically rather than playing the full electric set on stage. It’s still a lot of fun, but very different to our full-on rock show. The tour went pretty smoothly, other than getting lost forever in the service corridors of a shopping centre and having to change the venue from the Nottingham Pulp store to the Rub Smokehouse at the last minute. (A delicious turn of events: If you get a chance, go there – the food is EPIC)
How did you manage to get the deal with Pulp that you have? We discussed some of the more musically-related sponsorships in a recent interview, but this is a little “off to the side”.
It began when we heard that the Pulp Glasgow store was looking for local bands to play in-store sessions. That first time we played, we got on really well with the staff and they invited us to come back and do it again. (All the Pulp staff in all the stores were amazing – we love you guys!) The Glasgow staff have been behind us from the start, it’s so cool that they had faith in us. We now have an endorsement deal with the Pulp chain and their in-house brand Jilted Generation. In the very near future you’ll see Altered Sky merch on their shelves.
You’re on the road (and in shops, and in clubs, and…!) supporting “Without Wonderland”. How easy was it to raising the funds for this? Were there any nerves or were you pretty confident that you’d manage?
There’s a lot of money spent in the run up to a tour, the big ones are van hire, Travelodges and buying merch stock. If the tour is successful, we come away with a profit at the end, and the money goes back round again into the next run of shows. We’re self-financed so we’re not relying on an label to sort everything for us. It’s a tonne of work getting it all organised, but always worth it in the end. Ross is the master of logistics, it must just be a co-incidence that every time he books a hotel there’s a Toby Carvery right next door.
The tour is broken in two – the Pulp dates followed by “regular” shows. How are your set lists changing between the two? Do some songs lend themselves better to acoustic renditions which force these changes?
Since we released Without Wonderland at the end of last year, we’ve played every song on the album as part of electric and acoustic sets. The electric versions are much closer to how they sound on the album and we can inject that same energy that you hear in the recordings into our live performances. To play the songs acoustically took a bit of a rethink: songs like “Livewire” and “This War Is Mine” were completely reworked. We play about 50% of our shows acoustically just now; including the Pulp tours, school shows and studio sessions for radio and TV. “Imagine Adventure” is my favourite song to play acoustically: Ryan and I play it in a weird tuning with a lot of muting which really gives Ana and Amy’s vocals room to shine.
The final date on the tour is your biggest show to date, headlining the Garage in Glasgow to a home crowd. Is it more nerve-wracking playing to the “homies” or to a new crowd elsewhere?
Touring is my favourite thing in the world – to go somewhere new every day and play for different people is incredible and we’re always keen to put on a great show regardless of where we play. If ever we are feeling nervous before a show, it’s always the enthusiasm of the crowd that spurs us on. Before we go on stage I love being in the room and soaking up the atmosphere while other bands are playing. The energy in the room at a hometown Glasgow show is unreal – there’s no-where like it! The show at The Garage on the 15th of October is going to be our biggest yet: we’re already working on the setlist and stage design. There might even be a few surprises in store too…
How long has it taken you, since you really decided “this is it – this is what we want to do”, to get to this stage?
We decided almost from our very first rehearsal together that we were going to do everything we could to make the band a success. Always a question of “when” rather than “if” we’re going to make it. We move the goalposts for ourselves all the time which I think stops us from sitting back or getting complacent. The dream has always been to be the biggest band we can, but to get there you’ve got to break it down into smaller goals. Every time we achieve something, we’re already looking ahead to the next bigger step: when we started it was “lets play a gig” then “let’s record an EP and go on a tour” and “let’s get our album into HMV and get our video on TV”. Now the goals are “let’s record our second album and tour the world”. It’s crazy to look back at how far we’ve come, but there are so many things we still want to achieve.
Your new video for “Stupid in the Dark” premiered yesterday (as I’m typing this) and goes public on the 29th. What’s the story behind the lyrics?
“Stupid In The Dark” is about bringing everyone together and standing united. Ana is the lyricist and the expert on this, but for me “I feel a little stupid in the dark” means how much smaller we are when we don’t have anyone to turn to – we really do need each other, and when we stand together we can achieve amazing things. Maybe it’s also a metaphor about the band: we’re so much stronger together – greater than the sum of our parts.
I see you have your eye on the US as well. Have you managed to organise any dates over there or is that next on your list?
It’s all part of the plan! We’ve been working with some great American PR who are helping to get our music heard across there. It’s something we talked about ever since we started the band, but it’s becoming less of a distant prospect – a tour is on the cards at some point, maybe in 2017!