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alt-J perform in The Current studio

Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman of alt-J perform in The Current studio.
Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman of alt-J perform in The Current studio.MPR photo/Nate Ryan
  Play Now [17:51]

by Mary Lucia

October 31, 2014

alt-J, Every Other Freckle (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
alt-J, Left Hand Free (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
alt-J, Tessellate (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR

Touring in support of their album, This is All Yours, alt-J's Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) sat down for an acoustic set and interview with Mary Lucia ahead of the band's sold-out show at the Myth Nightclub in Maplewood, Minn.

When asked by Mary about the title of the album, Gus explains, "It was a painting that our drummer Tom [Green] did when he was at university. It was a canvas and said, 'This is all yours' on it. We thought it was a nice, positive name which seemed to sum up our approach to making music, that we don't have the final say over what our music necessarily means or is about. We give it to other people, really."

Below are more great quotes from Gus's interview with Mary; you can listen to the entire session by clicking on the audio above.

On the benefits of having a second album:
"We toured the first album for so long, that we really were struggling to fill up our allotted time on stage a lot of the time, we were struggling to play for an hour, really. Coming back with a second album, having a whole lot of songs that we love is really exciting, so we can just pick and choose exactly what we want to play and comfortably play for as long as people want us to."

On what it's like after guitarist Gwil Sainsbury left and was replaced by a studio musician:
"It's still pretty much broadly the same: It's us on stage, in a row, playing the songs as best we can."

On the possibility of error when using loops and samples in a live show:
"We have a very, very good MIDI technician who stands aside of stage … he's in charge of everything. Touch wood, nothing's gone too wrong so far."

On what constitutes a great live show:
"I think it's something you get from the audience. We come offstage between the main gig and the encore, and we all look at each other and we go, 'That was amazing.' It's rare that somebody will go, 'That was amazing' and somebody else will go, 'Oh, really? I wasn't really feeling it.' We generally all get the same kind of vibe."

On people's perceptions of the band's longevity:
"It's quite a common thing for people to assume that when the album comes out, that's when the band started, but we were a band for about four years before our first album came out."

On the more quotidian way people view rock musicians nowadays:
"I think it's partly to do with social media, being that everyone is more knowable these days. It's not easy to exist on a demigod level as a rock musician anymore."

Songs Performed

"Every Other Freckle"
"Left Hand Free"

The first two songs are on alt-J's 2014 album, This is All Yours, and "Tessellate" is off alt-J's 2012 release, An Awesome Wave; both are available in the U.S. on Atlantic Records.

Hosted by Mary Lucia
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Web feature by Luke Taylor