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There’s been a lot of metalcore coming out of Perth, but the most striking spin that Altona have put on a popular genre, particularly within their new album … And This Is Why We Are Alone, is in how much pain they seem to be able to deliver.
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That on point observation is in fact an inside joke, according to the band’s vocalist, Nick Roberts. Laughing, he says, “We’ve had some pretty rough times in our lives, so I guess we’re pretty experienced in showcasing that pain.
“It’s just perfect to hear but in a weird kind of way, if you know what I mean, that’s why I was laughing.”
Altona’s reasons for being able to give a performance of this kind and their reasons for having turned to the volatile projections of metalcore are, Roberts admits, much like many people. “Rough break-ups, bad patches with family and friends and all that sort of stuff, I think that’s definitely prevalent,” he says.
“A lot of this record was more trying to free ourselves from writing directly about ourselves–because we shared songwriting duties on this album, we could use our experiences to create these songs today. I guess we amped the sad up to ten!”
Understanding starts at home, the Altona home anyway, and the band’s shared stories of grief and gripes made for a fluid process in putting … And This Is Why We Are Alone together. It’s a well-balanced push and pull that Altona traverse, exploring dichotomies of experience and sound between a tortuous and mauling sound and beautifully introspective melodies. “That again, it was all product of who we were working with,” Roberts says reasonably. “I’ve been working with [producer] Matthew Templeton for a few years, so he’s seen me grow as a vocalist–when I approached him with the idea of doing the Altona record, he kept pushing me as far and as hard as he could.
When it came to Altona, we took our experiences and mellowed them together and created songs that were more relatable. There are still personal experiences in those songs, but they’re an amalgamation.
[ Nick Roberts ]
“It’s a very different style to what we’ve done with other bands so I think it definitely helps to portray the emotion in the way we tracked it [all].
“As a band we bounced music ideas back and forth, it was a very intimate but collaborative experience.”
… And This Is Why We Are Alone has been a project whose riffs and ideas have been around for a long time, since some of Altona’s members were in other bands six or seven years ago. The writing snowballed over the years so that when this group of musos finally came together, they started recording with an already concrete foundation of confidence in what they were doing. “I think we started recording in November of 2017, I can’t remember specifically,” says Roberts. “The songs have been with us for that long that, we’re very proud of them and stuff, but it’s nice to hear other people are enjoying it as well because it’s been hard for me to forget it’s the first time other people are hearing it–I’ve been hearing it the last two or three years.
“We did try and collaborate with a lot of local and international creative people, as well. Or music videos were done with a local filmmaker, Drew Kendall, and another young gun, Andre, who filmed half a video here and half in Norway.”
Making this album was cathartic for Altona, too. “That’s the other thing,” says Roberts, “It’s probably cliché to say, it’s what everyone says when it comes to music, but music, and it is my catharsis when it comes to getting those emotions out. Any stored up, negative energy, I put it into lyrics, I put it into music, and belt it out when we record and when we get the opportunity to pay live.
“On the flip side, if you associate songs with a very specific thing–a break-up or specific incident, someone’s death or something like that–I’ve found it can, down the track, become harder to perform those songs live.”
It’s Roberts’ hope that this palatable offering will mean Altona will be able to perform these songs for years to come, without hitting the road blocks of bad memories. “When it came to Altona, we took our experiences and mellowed them together and created songs that were more relatable. There are still personal experiences in those songs, but they’re an amalgamation.”
Purchase Altona’s … And This Is Why We Are Alone here.
Catch Altona at their album launch:
PERTH // Friday 12 July // Rosemount Hotel