It was only a matter of time before we heard again from Alpha Male Tea Party, the loud Liverpool trio with the cheeky ironic name.
We’ve witnessed the band slowly morph from the full-body lab suit wearing on-stage shenanigans, the hauling of cereal boxes into festival crowds, the humourously long song titles like ‘Your Happiness Was Stored On A Hard Drive And Is Now Corrupt’ and ‘You Eat Houmous, Of Course You Listen To Genesis’. In 2020, Alpha Male Tea Party is refined, mature, dynamic and still bloody listenable.
It’s hard not to be wow-ed by this surprise release. The soundscapes are gorgeous, the production is nothing but masterful. But perhaps most spectacular is the seamless flow of this thing. The trademark bouncy energy and merriment of Alpha Male Tea Party vacillates with shades of darkness, aggression and brooding, sludgy distortion. They are elements that have always crept into AMTP’s songwriting (that climax at the end of ‘Athlete’s Face’ sure packs a wallop), but Infinity Stare offers a satisfying balance. And, by golly, the guitars are chunky.
It’s an album that reflects many events in the band’s individual lives: marriages, families, and of course the sad passing of Dan Wild-Beesley from Cleft.
The trio have provided the first taster, ‘Bonfire Disaster Movie’, from Infinity Stare, which we are happy to be sharing with you today. We had the pleasure of talking with Tom Peters about Infinity Stare, ahead of its release tomorrow, yes tomorrow.
Well mate, it’s been ages since we talked and I hope you are doing well! First off, are you surviving? And how are Ben and Greg doing?
Tom: We’re all good, getting through it like the rest of the World. Weird old year eh? It’s actually been alright for the most part, the main thing that’s really sucked is not being able to hangout and jam and see all our friends but we’ll soon rectify that. I can’t speak for the others really other than to say, we’re all getting on alright and looking forward to that sweet light at the end of the Covid laced tunnel.
Talk us through the impetus behind releasing ‘Infinity Stare’ as a surprise album.
We started talking about the idea of doing it ages ago, when we first started writing. For whatever reason, it’s always been an appealing idea and Dave from BSM independently had more-or-less the same idea. For a band like us with a fairly niche and defined fanbase, there’s really not a huge amount of point in the doing the 3 month arbitrary run-up to release thing that seems to be so standard now. We’re not doing any singles and most journalists won’t touch us with a barge pole because we’re about as cool as Michael Gove so the ‘hype machine’ is somewhat ineffectual for us anyway. As a result, we thought it might be fun to just bang it out there and see what people make of it. Most people who follow us will know that it’s been coming, we’ve not been secret about recording it but we thought it might fun to end an otherwise calamitous 2020 with a nice surprise.
This album eschews much of the tongue-in-cheek and merry nature of say Droids. It feels much more dynamic, like you are exploring a range of positive and negative emotions. How do you go about laying these out and piecing together an album?
I suppose it does. Droids definitely had youth and exuberance on its side and we’re still immensely proud of that record. This one is a different kettle of fish – it still very much sounds and feels like an AMTP album but like all our records, it’s a reflection of how we’re feeling at the time of writing, if it were to come out like a fist-in-the air Pop Punk compendium, it would be a total lie (not that any of our albums sound like that). There’s a lot of undulating moods in it, lots of energy and intensity but it’s definitely darker than anything we’ve done before. I think it’s something we alluded to on Health but that record was still steeped in a more optimistic energy – we’ve always had our moments of darkness and don’t think any of our records are exclusively one way or another, but the darker influences were definitely brought further forward on this album.
It’s like anything creative, it was about responding to how we’re all feeling at the time. Personal circumstances played into it massively and that really governed the writing process. The key to it was working out how to translate those feelings into something musically coherent and that’s why it took us the best part of three and a half years to write. I think it’s the duty of music to communicate human emotion in a way that written or spoken language can’t and so it’s important for any album to explore a lot of different territories in that regard. I would like to think that’s always been a nuance of our music but as ever, you’re never the most impartial judge of your own creative effluent.
You’ve mentioned that the tragic passing of Dan, and the COVID-19 pandemic, had a big impact on your creativity as a band. Do you feel that, working through these hardships, you’re coming out more creatively fuelled, or is there still a journey ahead?
I think it depends on a lot of factors. It feels a bit like learning a new language, writing music in these times. It some how feels more vital but as a result more important to use that creative energy almost therapeutically. That’s really the only motivation for us now and I do think the challenge of writing under different circumstances has played into how the record has been shaped. On previous albums, we’ve tended to write collectively in the practice room which resulted in there being more urgency in a lot of what we were writing. By taking ourselves out of that, we’ve been able to write with a wider perspective and do things we wouldn’t normally do. It’s exciting and we’re pretty keen to write more as soon as we can because we’ve all found it very enriching.
The hardest thing for me was working out how to use the complex emotions of losing someone you love and turning them into a positive creative force. It took a lot of time to feel ready, to feel like the language of those emotions was accessible to me, like working out a sypher or hieroglyph. The penny just sort of dropped earlier this year and all this music just started oozing out like the filling of a boiling hot Pop-Tart.
Of course, it’s not all just spurred on by grief and misery, there’s been a lot of positive influence in our lives too; new families, partners, marriages and the nervous excitement of moving and re-shaping life in a new place. All of that has culminated in the album sounding the way it does.
Aside from the lofty concepts of ‘translating musical languages’ and molten Pop-Tarts or whatever BS I’ve just spouted, the practical aspects can’t really be underestimated either. We all found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands earlier this year so we all put a little recording setup together at home and got to work. It’s amazing to think about what we could achieve with the luxury of time on our sides but Ol’ Mother Capitalism is calling us so sadly, this might be a one off in that regard.
The album title ‘Infinity Stare’ could be viewed as either positive or negative. It strikes me as possibly referencing ennui and existential despair, or on the flip side it could be about coping. What is your intention with the title?
That’s nice to know. The title itself is very personal and refers to something specific that I’d like to keep some mystique around however it’s great that it can be interpreted so broadly. Personally (beyond the specific meaning) it’s about escapism and disappearing into a world beyond what’s in-front of you, something I often find myself wishing I could do. We’ve always had moments of other-worldliness (word?) and this album more so than others. It’s more spatial and boundless and the title reflects that, cos, like, ya know, infinity and that. Whether it’s positive or negative, it’s hard to say, I think it’s less binary than that but it’s definitely in reference to finding a wider world hidden within yourself rather than in the chaos of reality. Big stuff.
Taking the theme a bit further, do you think that making this album has been a coping mechanism, a way to help with grief and frustration?
It would be hard for it not to be. All creative pursuits are generally escapist in nature and what could be a better coping mechanism than burying yourself in the creation of some noisy rock music? I don’t really understand the point of doing anything creative if it has no deeper purpose beyond the merit of it’s own existence. That said, I find the term ‘coping mechanism’ a bit problematic to start with, makes it sound like the only thing holding us back from a full collective breakdown is 10 songs of distortion infused nonsense which clearly isn’t the case. However, it certainly has been therapeutic and a lovely thing to do whilst the World’s been in utter turmoil and it’s absolutely a pleasure and a thrill to be finally releasing it to the World after working so hard on it this year.
Alpha Male Tea Party and their new album can be found here on Bandcamp.