Alt-J

2007-
Joe NewmanVocals, Guitar2007-
Gus Unger-HamiltonKeyboard2007-
Gwil SainsburyGuitar, Bass2007-2014
Thom GreenDrums2007-

Alt-J Artistfacts

  • The band met at Leeds University where they were all students. Joe Newman had written some songs and he wanted to find some people to play with in a band, so he approached his friends Gus Unger-Hamilton, Gwil Sainsbury and Thom Green. They've had the same lineup ever since.
  • The four pals spent the next two years developing their music, first as Daljit Dhaliwal and then as FILMS until a case of mistaken identity with US band The Films forced them to rechristen themselves Alt-J.
  • Unger-Hamilton explained the band's name to FMQB: "Gwil discovered the Alt-J shortcut on his computer, which creates the 'delta' symbol, and he thought we should call our band just the delta symbol, which is a triangle in the Greek alphabet. That was kind of our band name but we chose to pronounce it Alt-J, because we knew being played on the radio, you need to really give your band a name that is spoken and not just written. So it was going to be said 'Alt-J' and written like a triangle or a delta. But now the delta symbol remains as sort of a masthead for the band."
  • Alt-J won the coveted Mercury Prize for their debut LP, An Awesome Wave, which is awarded to the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • Joe Newman's songwriting is heavily influenced by cinema. The An Awesome Wave album title comes from a line in American Psycho while the lyrics for their song "Matilda" are an ode to Natalie Portman's 12-year-old character in Luc Besson's thriller, Léon.
  • The band comes from varying musical backgrounds. Gus Unger-Hamilton started his musical career as a choirboy at King’s School Ely, while Thom Green is into heavy metal. "Our music is different to what we're all into. We almost shut out our musical background," Unger-Hamilton told The Independent. "We didn't discuss what kind of music we were going to make. I didn't really know what type of music it was, it felt instinctive."
  • Joe Newman admitted to the Daily Telegraph that the offbeat poetic imagery in his lyrics can be hard to decipher. "I can read a book, and find the most moving part is just a sentence," he said. "It's like looking at a masterpiece through a straw, and then finding a tiny composition within the whole that you like more than the picture itself. That's how I feel with music. Some people think my lyrics are gibberish but that doesn't bother me."
  • The drummer of Alt-J, Thom Green, suffers from Alport syndrome, a rare genetic disease which causes hearing and kidney failure. He lost most of his hearing by the time he was six and is now eighty per cent deaf.

Comments: 1

  • Lauren WitteAlt-J has had some of the hardest-hitting poetry to ease my mind since finding an atypical kinship with Cobain and Plath.

    Hey, to each their own.
    just hope the quoted excerpt on critical opposition
    vi's-a-vié "lyrical gibberish"
    looked at the fine print
    prior to deeming it indecipherable.
see more comments

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