Having been around the circuit for the last six years, things really do seem to be hotting up for South Yorkshire boys Alvarez Kings. Formed of brothers Simon (guitar/vocals) and Paul Thompson (bass/bv’s), Will Pashley (guitar/bv’s) and Richard Walker (drums) it seems at present these guys can do no wrong.
Usually when I chat to bands it’s in a pub or a bar, but tonight joined by photographer, Gary Wolstenholme, we’re at Shoreham Street to meet the four-piece, for their BBC Introducing recording session with Iain Hodgson. It’s quite a landmark event to be honest, as the session is for Iain’s last broadcast as a BBC presenter. It’s certainly an eye opener watching the Alvarez boys set up and record the tracks as well as sitting on the recording of the session.
I digress we’re here to talk about the band themselves and what’s going on in their world at the moment. It seems these guys can do no wrong at the moment.
With a new EP being released on 11th April and a European tour, things are definitely on the up.
“We’ve always been seen as outsiders, weren’t we like. Nobody seemed to be bothered about us or seemed to like us and we just laughed it off. Now, we seem to get on with everyone.”
The boys tell me they were supposed to play SXSW this year, ‘but funding fell through and we just can’t afford’. Simon declares that he ‘prefer the weather in Sheffield to Texas to be honest’. Though they do state, that having played there in 2010, it’s a great experience and if they could have afforded to be there then they would.
All isn’t lost though Alvarez Kings are set to play Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy in the next few weeks. It seems that Italy is their favourite choice to visit so far and that the culture of the country is what they’re looking forward to the most. Paul plans on getting all romantic with the boys in Verona, ‘the setting of Romeo and Juliette’, he points out to me.
So, why Europe and not the UK, I get two responses to this question. Simon tells me ‘we get paid better’. Whereas Paul follows it up with ‘over there there’s such a demand for UK bands, last October we went over to Germany and did 3 dates and the reception we got, well the crowds were so passionate. Over here, if you take Sheffield for example, erm, they’re spoilt for choice in a way, so many good bands’.
It’s true to the fact that Sheffield does have plenty of choice when it comes to music and gigs.
‘We were talking about it the other day, about how the Arctic Monkeys came out and inspired people, saying that everyone hated each other Harrisons, Arctic Monkeys, Little Man Tate were all kicking off. Now it seems to be a much better vibe, everyone gets on and tries to help’ continues Paul. Simon appreciates the scene and goes on ‘it’s happened to us since we’ve been in a band, we’ve always been seen as outsiders, weren’t we like. Nobody seemed to be bothered about us or seemed to like us and we just laughed it off. Now, we seem to get on with everyone. Don’t we (yeah) like The Ratells, Elephant Keys, and The Violet May. We get on with them, we always play together, its good’. Paul steps in again ‘I think everyone just realises everyone is struggling, it’s getting harder and harder to make it in a band in this country especially with the state of the industry at the minute’. He also admits he ‘could go on about this subject all night’.
Focus turned to the launch of their ‘Patience is Strength’ EP, which is released on National Importance Records. The EP is fit to burst with five tracks, two new ones (Patience is Strength and Dark Eyed Children) and three firm favourites (You, Me, Them, Us, Funeral Reunion and The Sequel). I have to point out here, I’m slightly gutted that An Honest Dilemma isn’t one of the tracks.
Nevertheless, from start to finish it’s bounding with their trademark riffs, foot tapping beats and formidable lyrics. Alvarez Kings, it has been said have a ‘recognisable Sheffield sound’ they have been compared to the likes of Arctic Monkeys as well as a multitude of generic ‘skinny jeans’ indie bands. I have to object here, there are influences all around in music. What Alvarez Kings do offer is a huge slap in the face, it’s bounding, punchy, we’re offered enthusiasm and it’s a great way to start processing summer vibes. My advice is to simply press play and turn it up loud.
It appears to be all go, in the world of Alvarez Kings. Simon states, ‘we’re just trying to keep the momentum going this year, at the minute it seems like we cant put a foot wrong, touch wood, like we’ve got our first reviews in for the EP all are really positive, we’re waiting to hear back on what festivals we’ve got this year as well’. He concludes with we’re ‘still enjoying what we’re doing, so we’ll keep going onwards and upwards as they say as long as we don’t fall out or anything’.
I’m told to watch this space and watch the Alvarez King space is what I will do.