Nine Black Alps Interview

EMMA LEE They secured a record deal after their second gig and see themselves as the antidote to arty 80s indie. Mancunian rockers Nine Black Alps play the Waterfront on October 31. Lead singer Sam Forrest spoke to Emma Lee


“I didn't see it, but apparently Girls Aloud gave away one of our signed guitars on CD:UK. It's really strange,” says Nine Black Alps singer Sam Forrest.

He is talking about the band's swift rise to fame. Most groups who make it big have served time on the “toilet venue” circuit, playing to a handful of people in the dingy back rooms of pubs. While their first gig was in a Manchester hotel function room, by their second they had created enough of a buzz to get signed by a local label. By their fifth live outing, the big players had taken notice and they signed to Island.

But then Nine Black Alps aren't really a band who believe in doing things by the book. Flying in the face of indie nostalgia for all things 80s, the rockers create what Forrest dubs “noisy throwaway pop songs”.

Their debut album, Everything Is, has sent music critics into a frenzy, leading to comparisons with Nirvana and the Pixies.

The NME said it is “an electrifying frisson of underground meets overground, punk purism meets pop perfection”.

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Not bad for a band that formed just under two years ago, more by luck than design.

Forrest, who had recently moved from York to Manchester, explains: “I was asked to play guitar in a friend of a friend's punk band. David [Jones, guitar] was in it too and we lost interest quite quickly because we didn't have any songs. We decided to try out some of the songs I had been writing, met James [Galley, drummer] in a bar, said 'you are in' because he could play drums and Martin [Cohen, bass] went to college with David. It's kind of like the first people we knew were there at the right time.”

Forrest says they have a diverse range of musical reference points: “We all listen to Metallica, we play that and do some male bonding on the minibus. I also like Queens of the Stone Age, we all listen to different stuff, blues, the Beatles, electronica. Guitars bring us together. The thing that really annoys me is these 80s bands. We strip away the arty pretension.”

While they may be being tipped as the next big thing, Forrest is taking it in his stride.

“We seem to be doing 20,000 shows in two days,” he jokes.

“We are doing about two gigs a day. Before that we were in America. Our lifestyles haven't changed. We spend a lot of time in the back of a minibus, we go home to the same flats. We're not flying in Lear jets,” he says.

Nine Black Alps play Norwich Waterfront on October 31. Box office 01603 508050 or The album, Everything Is, is out now.



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