Taking Back Sunday fans will definitely dig Ohio five-piece, Alteras. The band moves seamlessly from alt-rock to post-hardcore to metal and back, while retaining one cohesive sound.
Alteras put out their debut album Grief on Aug. 5 through Revival Recordings. Grief was recorded and produced by Nick Ingram (For Today, Dayseeker, Jay Z) at Capital House Studios in Columbus, Ohio.
I had the opportunity to ask vocalist Jake Clasen a few questions about their new release, artistic integrity in their writing/performance, and even find out if they’re into Pokemon Go!
How long has Alteras been playing together?
We’ve been playing as this group of members for about 2 years now.
And this is probably the most annoying question for an artist, but how would YOU describe your sound?
Not annoying, difficult! Because we don’t really attempt to conform to any specific genre we kind of find ourselves blending in with a lot of them. After rambling about how we fit into a lot of genres for a bit, I usually just say that you have to listen to understand.
So Revival Recordings just put out Grief. That album had previously been released independently, right?
Correct, but not in this form. Grief was previously released with an entirely different aesthetic.
What’s different about this release?
The version we’ve created with the help of Revival Recordings effectively isn’t just a re-release, it’s basically a total makeover. After adding 4 new tracks to the album, new artwork, and 11 tracks of audio commentary it’s a stronger release than ever.
Are the additional tracks brand new, or were written around the same time as the rest of Grief?
Some of them are older and some of them are newer. Speak was actually written very close to the time of our live recording session at Medusa.
There is some real diversity between songs on the album, musically what does songwriting look like for Alteras?
We kind of just open the floodgates and let whatever is going to happen happen. We don’t like to set up boundaries for ourselves, it’s a lot of fun, but sometimes it can be a challenge to make sure that we still sound like ourselves even though musically we’re all over the place.
The songs also all seem pretty personal, what goes into the song writing lyrically?
Lyrically, I spend a lot of time diving into the raw stuff. Free writing lines that come to my head onto notes. When I sit down to put together a song, I look at the notes and expand my thoughts. It’s pretty time-consuming but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Integrity is something we hold to a very high regard, so lyrics HAVE to be honest.
You have said that “these songs have gotten us through some of the toughest points in our lives,” does that make it difficult to perform them sometimes?
I actually think it intensifies the performance. To be able to tap into those emotions that we were feeling during this time unlocks the passion in our band. It’s not uncommon for us to get a little emotional on stage, but once again that’s artistic integrity for you. If these songs meant nothing to us, we wouldn’t feel a thing when we play them.
With you guys being so vulnerable and real in these songs, there’s no way people aren’t connecting to the music. What kind of responses have you been getting?
It’s been amazing. Some of the people we’ve met have been so open and receptive of the messages we’re sending out. It’s absolutely surreal; we could not be more thankful for our listeners.
This is also something I love asking: what is one of your favorite moments on the record? (a lyric, riff, vocal part.. etc)
I’m sure this is different for all of us, but I personally love the small vocal run in the chorus of “Could Ever Love,” it’s so much fun to do live.
What are you guys into when you’re not on the road, writing/recording? Gamers, movie buffs?
All of the above actually! We’re always writing and trying to come up with new ways to get content out to our fans but I also spend a lot of time working with local bands shooting their music videos and doing promos.
Are you guys catching all the Pokemon when you’re on the road?
Oh absolutely, team Valor all day.
And finally, what are you guys listening to these days?
We listen to a lot of stuff, like a weird amount of stuff. Some of it being Attila, Maroon 5, Movements, Armor For Sleep, Alesana, The Wonder Years, and more. We actually have a band Spotify playlist via the Revival Recordings Spotify account that everyone can check out to hear some of our tour van jams.