Δ (alt-J) are four guys from Leeds who met in university and make excellent pop. They consist of Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums). We had a talk with Gus!
Hey Gus! Right now, what do you feel like eating?
Well I just had lunch, which was a cold sandwich from a motorway service station, as we’re on the road, so I’d love my next meal to be hot.
I’m glad to see Way Out West have booked you! What do you know about Sweden and Swedish food?
I don’t know a lot about Sweden, except that it has a good music scene. And the capital is Stockholm. Swedish food, as I understand it, involved a lot of fish, which sounds great to me.
What’s the deal behind your name, it’s ∆ but everybody says alt-J? You were also called FILMS and Daljit Dhaliwal? Do tell.
When we started the band we used the name Daljit Dhaliwal, knowing that one day we’d probably have to change it – so when we thought of the name FILMS, we did. But then it turned out there was another band called The Films, so we had to change again. ∆ was a keyboard shortcut discovered by Gwil, our guitarist – we thought it was pretty neat, and would make a cool band name. A lot of people think we’re fixated with triangles, but we’re really not.
You mentioned that you play an Nordic keyboarded Mac on stage. Care to tell us why?
Well, I used a keyboard made by Nord, a Swedish manufacturer. The only keyboard I used to have was an old Yamaha that was very limited. I used a lot of piano when making the album, so I knew that I’d need a keyboard which offered decent weighted keys and good piano sounds. My Nord does that and much more. It’s definitely a grownup keyboard.
Ah, I misunderstood that completely then, that’s what twitter does to you! It’s not easy trying to put Alt-J (∆) into a genre, have you made one up or how would you describe your music?
We don’t like genres very much, so we shy away form defining ourselves. However other people are welcome to have a go! We have been described as folktronica, which we actually thought was pretty cool.
You mentioned in an interview that you had a sausage roll after a flight back from NYC, is that the best cure for a jetlag? Can you explain to us what a sausage roll is exactly?
I think the key to avoiding jetlag is definitely food. A sausage roll is basically sausage meat wrapped in puff pastry. It’s very greasy but delicious. They vary hugely in quality though, so watch out for that.
What do you have for breakfast, have you gotten into the whole porridge trend?
I get bored of food routine very easily, so I like to vary my breakfasts. Right now, my girlfriend and I are very into fried egg sandwiches, but that could soon change. As for the porridge trend, this must have passed me by.
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us? Maybe a soup?
This is a great soup – cheap, tasty and very filling. Sweat some chopped carrots in butter with some cumin seed, then cook in vegetable stock till they’re soft; liquidise, then add a bowl of rice cooked in salted water; reheat then stir in 2 egg yolks; season and serve topped with paprika and chopped parsley.
Trust me, it’s amazing.
So, when’s the album out?