While promoting new single The Spell, Faye sat down with Anders SG and Troels of the Danish pop sensation Alphabeat, ahead of their Newcastle show during the band’s mini UK tour. We got talking to the chart toppers about the new album, signing to Polydor, future plans, and that X-Factor performance of Fascination, as well as a whole lot more.
Faye: Can you say your names and what you do?
Anders SG: I’m Anders SG and I sing.
Troels: I’m Troels and I’m the drummer.
Faye: You’ve been a bit quiet this year, what have you been up to?
Anders SG: We’ve actually just been focusing 100% on doing the new album that’s coming out around January/February, so that’s what we’ve been doing. We just decided that we didn’t want to play any gigs at all while making the record, just to be fully focused on that.
Troels: Yeah, this is our first tour after we finished touring last year, so it’s great to be back and playing live again.
Faye: You released the single The Spell last week, I believe it got to 20 in the UK charts, but number one in Denmark, are you happy with the response here?
Anders SG: You can’t really complain about it, it’s a top 20 single, so we’re really happy with that. We just hope we can build it back up again, because I guess we’re back with a new sound and everything, so people maybe have to adjust a bit to that, so we’ll just build on.
Faye: The single comes from your new album, also titled The Spell, what can we expect from it?
Anders SG: Compared to the first album, this time we wanted to make a 100% pop album, so we basically got rid of all live instruments and tried to program everything a lot more in our studio. I think it’s a lot more pop and has a lot more of a synthetic feel to it, but that was exactly what we wanted to do and it’s very influenced by early nineties dance music, we just think that was a really good time in dance music, where a lot of the songs had a really good feel to them. Whereas, some dance music can be quite cold and we’re not really a cold band, so we thought that, that period of time would fit very well with our band.
Troels: This time round, because with the last album, a lot of people liked the fact that not all of the songs sounded the same and this time round we’ve got different kind of beats and sounds. Some of it was influenced by R’n’B and some of it’s very nineties.
Anders SG: The next single that’s coming out is probably a bit different, it’s very nineties, but it’s more ravey-nineties. I think people will understand that it’s sort of the same, but it’s just a bit different.
Faye: You had quite a few hits with your last album, was there pressure with this album to produce more hits?
Anders SG: You know, you can’t really sit around and think about that, I think you’ll just go mental if you think about it every time you make a song or if you try to compare it to the old stuff. You always have to do what you feel is right and that’s what we’ve done with this album.
Troels: And, again, we toured a lot last year, so it was great to come back after Christmas and just start from scratch and do anything, because I think we were all ready to get it kicked off and write the next album.
Faye: The new album was released yesterday in Denmark, do you have any idea how well it’s doing sales-wise yet?
Anders SG: It’s number two on iTunes right now, so that’s good.
Troels: And number one on of the second biggest download page in Denmark, and it’s been shipped quite well to the shops as well, so hopefully it’ll do as well as the single, because the single, it’s been pretty mental actually because it came out in late August or something on radio, and was released in late September, and since then it’s been number one and number two, and been constantly number one on iTunes. That’s a bit weird, because we really didn’t expect it because we haven’t been in Denmark since September last year, when we played our last gig there.
Anders SG: Yeah, we play in London, so we feel like we’ve just abandoned Denmark. [laughs] So, we thought they would have forgotten everything about us and didn’t really care, so we are really, really pleased about that.
Faye: I believe that the UK release date for the new album has been pushed back from November to January, how come?
Anders SG: We kept on writing songs, so we talked to the label and told them that we had some new songs that we really wanted to go on the album, and if they had to go on the album, which we really wanted them to be, we had to push everything back. So, that’s basically why, we’re just happy that we have some more songs that we really like one it. The Spell was written in January and some of the other songs on the album were written very last minute in August, during that period of time we’ve developed a lot.
Faye: You changed labels from EMI to Polydor with this album, didn’t you? Are you much happier now?
Anders SG: Yeah, Polydor, it’s just a really good place for us, it was just nice because when we left EMI, we were kind of up for grabs for every label and right away, we started getting offers and we were in the situation where we were first time round, where we could just pick whoever we wanted, so that was really nice and we ended up with Polydor. The fact that we’ve changed our style a bit, it’s just really cool to be on a new label, because they feel like it’s their thing, you know? And in that way, they’re more enthusiastic about it, I think.
Faye: You’ve obviously had lots of success in Europe, do you have any plans to try and break other places like America and Asia?
Anders SG: We would love that, we got an offer to go on tour with Katy Perry last December in the States for about three months, so we would have done that this Spring and we said no, because we really wanted to do the new album, so that was kind of a priority thing. I think it’s the same with everything band in the world, it’s insane if you don’t want to do well in Asia or the States, but it’s a big and difficult market over there, it’s very R’n’B-based. We do get so many emails from people in the States saying, “Why can’t we have this?!” So, there’s definitely some people over there who are fans.
Faye: Did you see The X-Factor performance of Fascination last week? What did you think of it?
Troels: For us, it was a bit surreal, because we had a rehearsal after Sunday and we had just been out for dinner, and we got back and we were like, “Ok, there’s a TV, our bus is here in an hour and it’s 8pm”, so we turned it on…
Anders SG: At the exact time they were performing Fascination.
Troels: It was a bit weird.
Anders SG: A bit dodgy. [laughs] We were all like, “Oh! That’s interesting…” [laughs] I don’t know, my girlfriend always says that with our songs, it seems so unreal when other people are doing them, she feels that it’s only us that can play them and that it’s a completely different song when other people are doing it.
Troels: We don’t have any influence on what’s going on in The X-Factor, they pick whatever they want. It’s just a place where music is put up, then suddenly it can actually become a hit if it’s something people have forgotten all about, like the Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah thing that she [Alexandra Burke] kind of ripped and then suddenly Jeff Buckley is in the top 10 again, it’s like no one would have knew about Jeff Buckley if they didn’t watch The X-Factor. That thing could have happened to Fascination as well if it was a bit older.
Faye: What made you want to sing and write in English as opposed to Danish?
Troels: I think everyone in Denmark is writing in English, really.
Anders SG: Now they are, but at the time when we started out, a lot of Danish artists were writing lyrics in Danish and we really hated it at the time. We never talked about it actually, it was a natural thing for us, to do it in English.
Troels: And like every guy like us, at 16-years-old, we picked up our guitar and started writing songs like our idols and we learn English from fourth grade or something like that, so for us and to Danes, it’s probably natural to speak in English as well as in Danish.
Faye: Are the Danish charts full of English-speaking artists at the moment?
Troels: That’s the thing, there’s a lot of Danish music in the charts. I was Tweeting about our single being number one in Denmark, and I was hoping to put big names behind us like, who we beat in the top five, but it was only Danish people. [laughs] So, it was a lot like, “We beat a lot of Danish dudes” and put Robbie Williams in somewhere. [laughs]
Faye: Can you tell me an interesting fact about Denmark?
Anders SG: It probably has the best bike culture in the whole world, actually. I think it’s Denmark and Holland that are the best countries to bike in, because all of the infrastructure in Copenhagen and all the big cities in Denmark, everything is built around bike paths, you can go anywhere by them, but if you do that in London or any other city in England, you’ll probably just get killed. [laughs]
Troels: Japanese tourists like taking pictures of them, because it looks so funny, they’re everywhere.
Faye: If I was to go to Denmark, where would I visit?
Anders SG: We’ve all lived in Copenhagen and I think it’s a really unique city, it’s very unlike any other place I’ve ever been. It has that big city feel, but it’s very cosy and low-key. People from here would probably like Copenhagen.
Faye: What’s next for Alphabeat after this UK tour?
Troels: We’re aiming to do maybe do a couple of concerts in Denmark before Christmas.
Anders SG: We’re just doing loads of promo up until Christmas and then we’re releasing a new single in January, just before the album, then it’s just touring, so that’s what’s coming up.
Faye: Will you be touring the UK again when the album is released?
Anders SG: Yeah, because we’re only doing seven or eight dates on this tour, and then we’re going to do a full tour, probably about 20 dates.
Faye: Will you be playing venues of the same size or bigger?
Anders SG: I don’t know, we’ll have to see how everything turns out. I really like the fact we’re playing these size venues, it’s like 500 and to sell out venues like this is really nice, but we’ll just see what the demand is, but the last time around, we played places up to 2500, so it’s just building everything up again.
Troels: Of course, it would be fun to play the big Academy stage here, but it wouldn’t be as fun as standing in front of 400 because they would disappear in that big room. Yesterday, we had 550 people in a very small room, kind of similar to this one today and it was just really, really great because everything gets really hot and sweaty, it’s a good vibe, we like that. Of course, it’s fun to play 2500 people, but you don’t see anyone, so here you really get close to them and see who they are.
Faye: Do you tend to play bigger venues in Denmark?
Anders SG: Yeah, we played some huge festivals with about 20,000 people.
Troels: The festivals are the biggest things in Denmark because people can just show up and you can have 20,000 people in front of you. The venues in Copenhagen, you have to be like Lady Gaga or Kings of Leon to play the bigger venues, like 6,000-10,000 people and, in Denmark, a Danish band has it hard selling a place like that out because they’re Danish. But we enjoy playing the big venues in Copenhagen and places like that.
Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Anders SG: You should listen to this Swedish band called The Sound of Arrows, they’re two guys. Swedes are actually very good at making a guy duo playing pop music in a very cool and semi-credible way, they’re just really, really good. There’s a Danish band called Private, who are very good as well, they make brilliant pop music as well.
Faye: Is pop mainly what you listen to? Do you listen to anything that would surprise us? Any heavier music?
Anders SG: I think, in the band, we all have an open relationship with music, we like everything that’s good, but we really like pop music. When we were younger, we listened a lot to rock music and I grew up listening to rock music but, now, guilty pleasures, for me, are Kings Of Leon. [laughs] Because I’m so much into pop music, but, in the band, I think we listen to everything, if there’s a good quality to it, then it doesn’t really matter.
– Faye Turnbull.
The single The Spell is out now, with the album The Spell due to be released in early 2010.
The band are currently touring the UK, for dates and more information, visit: www.myspace.com/alphabeat