Generally we feel obligated to wax poetic about the greatness of the bands that we try to introduce. We continue to be fortunate, in that we only cover the bands that we like. We’re passionate about their music and desperately want you to agree, so we’ll string a series of outrageous adjectives together to capture your attention for the three minutes that we hope it will take to gain your attention.
With Alberta Cross, we’re absolutely dumbstruck. On one hand, we’d like to tell you that their new album, ‘Broken Side of Time’ is the best album of the year and perhaps the decade. Their live performances are musical perfection and emotional epiphanies. They were clearly the best band at Austin City Limits and routinely provide the soundtrack for our dreams. And we could go on….
But perhaps it would be best to stop now and let you listen to the music, which should be more than enough to convince you…
Lead singer Petter Ericson Stakee took a few moments on the phone with us prior to their appearance at Austin City Limits.
TDOA: I’ve always wished that I’d had an opportunity to interview a musician shortly after they’ve released a “legendary” album. I feel like I’ve finally gotten that opportunity, in talking to you now. How did you feel upon completion of the new record? Did you walk out of the studio and think that you’d just created something really special?
Petter: This finished it at a time when we were still struggling. It was definitely a weird patch. We thought the tunes were really good and were inspired by a lot of things that we were around at that time; London and New York City. I don’t think you think about it that much. You just think about making sure it’s honest. It was such a nightmare to record it.
TDOA: How was it a weird time? Emotionally or from a business-sense?
Petter: Emotionally, really. We left London and then New York. It was a crazy time.
TDOA: You weren’t really very fond of NYC were you?
Petter: I don’t mind New York, but we had left everything behind in Europe and had no money, so it was kind of a tough time. We were sleeping on peoples couches and things like that and New York City isn’t really the best for that style of living. As a city, I think it’s pretty great. We went out too much and got too excited and kind of got into a bad place.
TDOA: How long did it take you to record the album?
Petter: It was recorded in Austin and took about two months, then we went on tour. When we came back, we spent another two weeks finishing it up.
TDOA: How did you like recording with Mike McCarthy?
Petter: I think it was interesting. He’s great with sounds and stuff. I think he was in a weird place or something in his life and he was kind of having a tough time of it. It was a bit weird. It worked out and ended up sounding good, but when we were going through it, it was pretty mad. He’s a bit of a nutter.
TDOA: Did he know he was a nutter?
Petter: (laughing) probably
TDOA: Did he contribute to the album or the sound?
Petter: He’s really good with sound. We kind of knew what we wanted and I knew how I wanted the songs to sound.
TDOA: When I hear a record like this, that is so dense and thick and has so much going on, I wonder if come into the studio sounding like that or did you add parts during the recording process?
Petter: We did a lot of it live, making sure we had really good takes. We added some extra guitars and pianos, but overall we tried to get a really good, live feel. I did go back and add the vocals after the music.
TDOA: In interviews you’ve talked about how the songs came out of jamming together. When you’re rehearsing, do you come in with parts you’ve written and build from there or are guys really just noodling around and songs are born?
Petter: A lot of songs on this album, I wrote in Brooklyn, but songs like ATX were built on a jam. The more we go out touring, the more songs come out.
TDOA: Is everything from those sessions on the album or do you have some songs that you’ll release later as B-sides or an EP?
Petter: Yeah, there are a lot of songs. We took it down to 10, but it probably could have been 30. We had loads of songs before we moved to New York and we scrapped some of those. Who knows what we’ll do with them.
TDOA: There was a couple of years gap between the first EP and your first proper album. Why?
Petter: We toured after The Thief and the Heartbreaker came out and then left our label, then moved to NY and signed to a new label. It was kind of hell for us.
TDOA: How supportive do you find the label with the new album?
Petter: I think they’re really good. It’s really hard, because we just got back from London and we see how little support labels give to bands and how hard it is. Our label is really good, they want the bands out touring and want to grow it in an organic way.
TDOA: Some music critics ask you about Neil Young and “southern rock”, which is a label I don’t agree with. Do you worry that the label is going to try and market you as Lynard Skynard and not “get it”? Do you have that kind of dialogue where you can say, “here are my influences and this is what I think out market is”, so that you don’t have to worry about them trying to have you record a duet with Kid Rock?
Petter: (laughs) Yeah, I think our label gets it. It surprises me when people compare us to southern rock. It’s kind of weird. I never listened to that kind of music.
TDOA: How did you pick ATX as the single? Does the label make that decision.
Petter: I think it had the best feel and direction. The label wants us to have an upbeat record for the radio and we thought it was a good introduction for people to the band and a nice “toast” to Austin.
TDOA: You guys really love Austin, don’t you?
Petter: People are really great here. There’s music everywhere and it feels like people are honest and nice.
TDOA: You did a tour with Oasis in England and lived over there for a long time. How do you compare the American and British crowds?
Petter: The American crowd is a little more forward. They’ll run up to you after festivals and tell you how much they love you. In England, they’re a little more reserved. Sometimes it means a little more when they’ll come up to you and actually talk to you about it. America’s been really good to us.
TDOA: How do you feel about making videos?
Petter: I’m not happy with any of our videos. ATX is alright because it’s a live video, but it’s not really a music video. It’s just a live video, but it’s ok. I haven’t seen many really cool videos in a long time. I think you’d hear a lot of band say the same thing.
TDOA: What’s next after this brief tour?
Petter: We’ll do a month in America and then a month in Europe. I think we’re going to be on the road a lot. We’ll come back and do a bigger tour of the U.S.. We haven’t done a proper western U.S. tour and we’d like to do that.
Clearly, your next move is to buy the new album “Broken Side of Time” from iTunes (click on the hypnotically gorgeous button below) Next you need to see them live. Visit their MySpace page to see when they’re playing your town.
Next you need to see them live. Visit their MySpace page to see when they’re playing your town.