From the Heart of Sheffield
Alvarez Kings

Popular music is so diverse as the sounds coming from Europe seem to embrace a variety of styles. This broad taste of music being played over the airwaves, in clubs, and on iPod's is opening huge doors of opportunities for fans to really try some new sounds, and for bands to expand their creative processes.

Hailing from South Yorkshire, Alternative/Indie/Rock sounds coming from the heartbeat of Sheffield influences, Alvarez Kings have really taken their fans in the states by storm. Bringing their own special sound to SXSW this year and again to their second run with Warped Tour 2015- get ready... Alvarez Kings have landed and the world is ready for their energetic passionate sounds of tunes!

11/06/2015- Song River

Alvarez Kings 

Song River: You've wrapped up your tour with Echosmith. How was it?

Paul Thompson: It was awesome, possibly our favourite tour to date. It helps that we are good friends with the guys in Echosmith. We had a lot of fun. Nearly all the shows were sold out and we played to some of our biggest ever crowds. We made a lot of new friends and fans.
Some of the driving was a bit brutal especially Brussels to Madrid but we are good at keeping ourselves entertained in the van on these long drives mainly by playing pranks on each other or taking the piss out of each other. We consider it an art form.

SR: You've become a bit of the South Yorkshire darlings... Sheffield adores you...wouldn’t you say? Support from back home, where we come from is always crucial. What is it like now when you do get to go back home?

PT: It’s great coming back home to see friends and family and the support from our local fans is overwhelming. We rarely get to play locally these days so when we do those guys are loud.

SR: In the beginning did the Alvarez Kings use 'pirate radio' at all?

PT: Not so much. I mean we’d do University radio shows and local radio shows but it wasn’t something we really felt like we needed to pursue. London would have been a good place to take advantage of pirate radio shows but at the time we were concentrating honing our craft up north in South Yorkshire.

SR: As the doors of opportunities presented themselves to tour here in the states, how did SXSW come about?

PT: Our manager at the time applied for SXSW and how could we turn down our first trip to Texas. It was an awesome experience and opened up a lot of doors for us. It was surprising how well we went down being fairly unknown at the time.

SR: Also, was it in 2013? that you were on the Warped Tour? Then a reality show of sorts was made from it?

PT: Yes, our first major US tour. 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 a reality TV show Warped Roadies.
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.

SR: Would you ever take part in that type of filming again?

PT: 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 offer some insider knowledge for other bands looking to tour and maybe help them out.

SR: Alvarez Kings is getting ready to release their debut album under Sire/Warner Brothers, “Fear To Feel.” Talk chat a bit about the album, its song-writing, the elements that came together, and does it carry within it a collective message?

PT: With this debut EP 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 vigour at its core.

SR: Title of the album how does it relate personally?

PT: 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.

SR: Who produced the new album, and how was the recording studio process?

PT: It was Sean our guitarist who produced most of the EP and it was a pretty time-consuming and at time frustrating process. We recorded it with long time engineer Steve Ellis at Orion Studios.
It was a brand new approach to recording with a range of timbres we had never used before such as strings, brass and synth so we faced challenges along the way.

In the past our songs were written with just the four of us in an ensemble rehearsal. Most of the writing for this record was done in a recording studio.

SR: Is your sound different from the previous two albums? Same?

PT: It’s very different. Like I previously said at the heart of the music you can still find indie pop at its core. However, there is a lot more going off on this record. A huge variety of instruments and percussion. All our previous material was the standard 4 piece, guitars and drums. And now we have different dynamics and textures incorporated into our music.

SR: Do you believe in trying on a variety of formulas, or is it better that once you find your place... you stay there?

PT: For us personally we always want to try and progress and try different things because otherwise we would start to get really bored. We made a conscious effort to progress on this new record and the challenge was rewarding.

SR: Connecting with fans strengthens relationships. Your social media (Facebook) claims “very responsive to messages” plus you've twitter. How has this open door policy of connection worked for the band?

PT: It’s very important to us to stay connected with our fans. We make an effort at every show to meet and greet everyone. We will sign and have a selfie with every single person in that room no matter how long it takes.

We try to reply back to everyone on social media and even with it getting harder as our fan-base grows we will try our best.

SR: Overall do you feel the modern approach of connection is personal enough? How do you gauge your interactions with fans?

PT: We like meeting and chatting with them in person. It feels more personal. However, social media is the quickest and most convenient way to reach out to us. If fans are happy that we are replying to a tweet then we take that as a positive thing.

SR: You invite people to come to your merch table during Warped Tour. Do you ever feel like what in the world am I going to chat about?

PT: Not at all. We love to talk. In fact Simon’s nickname in the band is Phantom Rambler because after a few Bourbons you can’t get him to shut up.

SR: Balancing personable with perimeters. How difficult is it, or has it become a mob scene yet of adoring fans, paparazzi and following around home? If it hasn't yet, when that time arrives... how do your perceive handling it?

PT: It has only just started to become a little crazy with fans especially on this last tour with Echosmith. Especially with doing meet and greets after the show. You can imagine what it’s like when 1500 people are leaving the main room at the end and are looking to grab a photo with you. It was at times like a crazy mob but we had fun at the same time.

We’ve not got to the stage yet with paparazzi, but I suppose we’ll have to see when or if that time comes. I can see how celebrities can get fed up with it, especially if you want to go for a quiet drink with your friends or whatever. It all comes with the territory and it is something we are prepared for.

SR: You've walked into your local footwear shop. Runners to the left and to the right of you... choice? Vans or Converse? Black, Brown or?

PT: Vans, Converse really doesn’t matter to us. We have a wide taste. Some of us like a nice pair of shoes like brogues or loafers. We are English after all! (laughed).

Website: Alvarez Kings

Youtube: Cold Conscience

 Song River of CowGirlZen Photography

    Freelance Photographer/Writer: L3 Magazine; Silverplatter; Vents Magazine;YabYum
                             CoHost/Producer: The Hay Girls Show 
                             (Independent Music, live for Independent Minds)                                                                          

CowGirlZen Photojournalist (Interviews and Reviews)