Note: The following interview appeared also on Chain DLK. We are contributors there as well.
UK industrial/rock act AlterRed returns with the hard-hitting Trauma; Trauma Reinforcementavailable now on WTII Records. Definitely reflective of today’s hostile world, Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement takes the listener down a dark path filled with rage, instability, resistance and angst. This more aggressive AlterRed combines dirty guitars and heavy beats over thick layers of synths and noise. Their innovative sound was first introduced with the release of “Breaking News” and continues to morph on tracks like “Speed Test,” “Wait for the Recoil” and “You Get Nothing.” Topping off this release is a cover of the Duran Duran classic, “Wild Boys.
Lead vocalist Mikey Antonio was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of our questions. We very much appreciate his time.
Chain D.L.K.: The new album, “Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement” was just released on WTII Records and is the first release since 2015. Talk a little bit please about the evolution of these songs since then.
AR: Hey! Thanks for speaking with us! Well, after the first three albums, which were a bit spooky-electro-cabaret, and very much fantastical and riddled with metaphors for mental health issues, we wanted to go back our electro-rock roots, which we did on our last album, “In the Land of the Blind.” Then, when I began writing Trauma, there just seemed to be so much social discord, misogyny and general intolerance in the air. In global politics, in Hollywood, in TV and Music in general – years of social inequality, injustice and abuse had come to a tipping point, and while I’ve always had strong political views, I’ve usually kept them out of the music. It seems with Trauma I just couldn’t contain it!
Chain D.L.K.: The cover art for “Trauma…” is pretty provocative with the people with the bags over their heads. What was the inspiration behind that?
AR: Vix Vain has always been the creative mind behind our imagery, and between the two of us, we have designed all of the concepts and stage theatrics. For Trauma, though, Vix had a very specific idea of what she wanted to do based on the title. She wanted to base the cover on the experience of the surrealist artist Rene Magritte. It is said that Rene Magritte’s mother committed suicide, and when she was pulled from the river her dress was covering her face, which young Rene saw. This is thought to be the source of several of Magritte’s paintings where cloth covers the face, such as his painting “The Lovers.”
Chain D.L.K.: You have a really interesting hybrid of sounds. Can you talk about the collective influences from the different band members?
AR: Jack Hell has been our bassist from the start. We initially didn’t want a guitarist but instead chose a distorted bass guitar with throbbing electronic basslines beneath them. Then, when we wrote the “In the Land of the Blind” album, we added the electro-rock element and acquired a full-time guitarist. Trauma is the first album for which I have worked with a producer, Sheldon Trinder. Sheldon’s band I Will Leave No Memoirs has a particularly disturbing darkness to it, so I thought it would be interesting to see what his take on my songs would be. I initially sent him one track that was simply a basic piano piece with a throbbing bassline behind it – what he sent back absolutely blew my mind. I wrote lyrics for it and that became “The Only Way is Down.” We’d been looking for a project to work on together for a few years (some of which were so insane, I really hope we do them one day!) so we began working collaboratively on the album. Sheldon’s work on the album really does deserve a lot of credit! It would have been a very different album without him.
Chain D.L.K.: Why the decision to cover “Wild Boys” by Duran Duran?
AR: Hahahaha, OK, yeah that probably does seem like an odd choice. In a nutshell, I’d been toying with the idea for so long (I had tried it with four different bands!) so it was a case of just getting it down with the right line-up and producer. The crowds love it live, too!!
Chain D.L.K.: How would you describe AlterRed to someone who has never heard your music before?
AR: Electro-Rock-Industrial. Music to lose your mind to!
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about some of the emotional dynamics behind some of the tracks on the new album…i.e. joyful, therapeutic, sad, etc.
AR: There is a bit of a range, from some very personal stuff (like Down and Bohemian Class) to the more punk and anarchic songs like PS Fuck You, Mad Dogs and You Get Nothing. There’s also my take on rolling news media (Breaking News) and how disposable and meaningless it is making something as essential as informative, objective and challenging journalism. The lyrics are a simple set of news clichés!
Chain D.L.K.: The first single and video from the album is “Speed Test.” What can you tell us about this song, the idea behind it and the upcoming video?
AR: Well, the video is in the hands of Duncan Catteral, who has worked with us on all of our videos. We usually sit down and hammer out a concept, but Duncan had a very specific idea for this based on some movie imagery we both love. It’s still in post production, so I’ve not seen it yet. I can’t wait to see the finished results, though.
The song itself is a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, who died in 2015. It was the first song I wrote for this album, and I wanted the lyrics to be fitting of his lifestyle and the style of the song to be an industrial take on Motorhead’s punk-metal sound (which I am a HUGE fan of).
Chain D.L.K.: What equipment and software went into the writing of “Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement” and how was it different than the previous albums?
AR: I write pretty much everything on my trusty Korg Triton, then we re-orchestrated at the mixing and production stage.
Chain D.L.K.: What other plans have you for 2018 and possibly into 2019?
AR: So, 2018 will see us play a few showcase shows around the UK. We kicked off with the album launch in Dalston, London, on Friday the 13th July, which was a really great night. We’re putting a few more shows on, including at the very awesome Club Antichrist in London. We’ll play in Glasgow, Cardiff and Winchester, too. Then, of course, there’s the video to come!
2019, we currently have plans for two tours with two different bands, one in the spring and then again in the autumn. We also have a few festivals penciled in, so watch this space.
Chain D.L.K.: Many, many years from now, a very distant relative finds their way to the attic of an old home. In the attic they locate a box labeled “AlterRed” and inside find some of your recordings. What would you like this person to know of your legacy simply based upon listening to your music?
AR: Wow, what a question! I feel this box should come with an explanation and apology!
I’d like the music to be perceived as punchy, energetic and catchy, with a point to make, but for some of the more personal and complex songs, I hope the person would be able to connect the dots with many of the stories, images and metaphors.
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