Melbourne-based band Alpine, which vocalist Lou James describes as, “art rock pop,” is coming to Sacramento to take the stage at Assembly. Alpine provides some of the strongest vocals in the indie world, featuring two powerful female voices that stand out from any other band of its type. In the band’s first album, A is for Alpine, they proved their musical versatility by including songs from a huge range of styles. James wanted this mix in A is for Alpine in order to create a strong impression that would attract people with all kinds of tastes. The group is developing their second album now, which James says is going to be, “more adventurous,” delving deeper into the sound that Alpine has begun to accrue.
Over the last few years, Alpine has really exploded. They went from playing small venues in musical Melbourne to touring the United States with popular electro-pop band Empire of the Sun this year. James says that this success has come about so quickly that the members of Alpine haven’t had time to fully absorb it. When asked where she sees the group going in the future, James described the unpredictable nature of the music world, saying that, “it’s not really the best to focus on the future,” in this world. “Just focus on now.” She did mention that the band wanted to play more festivals in the future, describing the unique energy of a festival environment as allowing everyone to, “[escape] from the outside world,” for a while. The members of Alpine have also always liked the idea of someday touring in Japan. “I want to buy all the clothes because I’m a midget,” James laughed, referring to her meager 5’4” of height. She described how people would sometimes come up to her after concerts and exclaim over how short she is. She protests, “Yes I’m small, but I have a big personality!”
One thing that James wants to accumulate in Alpine is a theatric effect. She describes her vision for Alpine as something that will always keep the audience wondering what happens next, full of bright colors and costume changes to really get their fans engaged. This vision was what made Alpine’s recent tour with Empire of the Sun, “ah-mazing,” as James described. They were well matched in their engaging performances, and provided a good balance for each other in sound. James’ favorite concert so far on this tour has been at a small venue in Boston. “It was just so much fun,” she gushes. “Everyone was just yelling at us from the crowd, […] and it was very interactive.” It brought Alpine back to its start in small Melbourne venues.
Outside of the band, the members of Alpine are good friends. Save Ryan Lamb, Alpine’s British bassist, the group met while attending school in Melbourne. “Phoebe and I are incredibly close,” James says of co-vocalist Phoebe Baker. “I’ve actually been living at her house […] while I’ve been between houses.” When they’re not on tour, they all take on normal day jobs. James works at a tea shop, where she catches up with a whole host of close friends and family. After a tour ends, the hard-working vocalist takes a while to readjust to home. “I get the blues for quite a bit and then I’m okay again.” When a musician gets back from a tour, “you have to be totally selfish,” James says. “I just kind of do what I want to do for a while until I’m ready [to resume normal life].”
Before every concert, the members of Alpine have always done a “hands in” to get them pumped for the event. It puts everyone, “all there as a band and all there on stage,” as James says. “We just come up with a word and we chant it before we go on stage. […] If we weren’t all connected before we go on stage, the show would be shit.” When asked what word they chanted, James replied, “It’s just something that’s happened during the day, and then there’s always one person that doesn’t know what the word is. That’s kind of the game. So we’ll all start chanting, and […] if it’s me, I’m trying to read their mouths and I’m like, ‘What is he saying?’ and then you figure out what the word is and it’s either ridiculous or funny or random.”
James wants her audience to walk out of an Alpine show, “[feeling] totally uninhibited and [as if the band has] taken them somewhere they’ve never been before.” She tries to convey a strong message of the long-lost “girl power,” proving to the audience that, “a girl can be sexy but she can also be powerful.” This commanding, distinctive group will leave a sharp impression on you after every song, so don’t miss the chance to see them live this Friday!
Photos compliments of Tracey Lee Hayes
Words Tessa Murphy