Norwegian Animal Alpha is another good example of the high quality of the bands coming from the northern neighboring Nordic country. Their last album: You Pay for The Whole Seat but You´ll Only Need the Edge has been widely praised by Finnish music press and ranked at the top of the charts. The guys paid a visit to Finland for a couple of gigs in Tampere and Helsinki, and we had the chance to chat with 3 of its members a few hours before their first show at Yo-Yalo.
If you can have doubts about the role of every member in a rock band, that is not the case for Animal Alpha. While sitting in the backstage of Yo-Talo (one of the mythical venues for small and mid-size gigs in Tampere together with Klubi) sipping a cold beer, it is easy to catalogue Christian, the guitar player, as the brain and leader of Animal Alpha, while Agnete, the singer, remains as the shy, sensual and mysterious muse that lends her amazing voice and Lars, the bass player, acting as the most social, outspoken and friendly of the three. Apart from admiring the collection of graffiti that overwhelms the walls of the messy small backstage, we also have time for a nice dialogue while the band is waiting for some technical problems to be solved to perform the sound check.
Opposite to what happen to most of the ands that try to find their place in the difficult business of rock music, Animal Alpha did not have problem in signing their first contract for producing Pheromones (2005), their first album. They had a dozen of record companies offering them deals, until they chose one of the smallest ones: Racing Junior “We were playing a lot around Oslo, and we also were the winners of a context for new bands. That made things easier. It was more about spreading the word from people who knew us” explains Lars, their bass player. Certainly success came quick, having the single Bundy chosen to appear in some videogames of mainstream company Electronic Arts. “I have never played to any of those videogames, so I have no idea how sounds there” recognizes Agnete, but Christian promptly pinpoints “Well, when I play and I listen to our songs, I think that makes me even score more and faster!”
Their new album (with that long and weird title extracted from a TV series) counted with the help of Dave Collins mixing in Los Angeles, and certainly, with only 8 tracks (and not for lack of more songs, as the band reckons) is doing pretty well so far. Animal Alpha are not afraid of the direct contact with their fans and audience, and that risky attitude can be seen when watching the performance of Agnete on stage, or in other details as the meeting they have with the public a few months ago, when everyone could choose what to pay for their album. Radiohead´s attitude taking to a new level: “It was more like a meeting with the fans, since most of the people came to greet us or get their albums signed. In general the response was very good” recalls Lars. “There was even somebody who paid like 50 euro! But well, there was another who did not want to pay anything”.
"Finland really feels like our second home" – Animal Alpha-
Guitar player Christian has a lot to say about the style and direction of the band, for example, he was the one who met Agnete and got impressed with her talent, and who decided that lyrics should be in English instead of Norwegian. But there is no doubt that is the special voice and skills of Agnete that are making Animal Alpha a name in the international rock scene “Well, as one of my influences I could name Faith no More. I always liked Mike Patton a lot” the singer tells us.
Coming from Norway, the band does not certainly feel alienated at all in Finland, quite the opposite “Finland is like our second home. That is totally true. We feel very comfortable here. The reaction of the audience is very similar to what happens in Norway” say the members of Animal Alpha, who will be soon playing again in Finnish land in Jurassic Rock festival in Mikkeli.
The concert starts some hours later delayed due to some problems with the backline. Sinamore opens for an audience that takes it easy sitting on the tables enjoying their dreams. That turns the atmosphere a bit cold, although the guys deliver a good show of heavy metal. A good general impression, especially from their guitar player Tommi and their drummer Miika, but the singer Mikko Heikkilä shows some ups and downs in his vocal skills.
While being afraid that the cold atmosphere can get repeated with Animal Alpha, the venue gets totally transformed once that Agnete is on stage. Nobody would be able to recognize the shy girl we chatted with a few hours ago from the woman who stands on stage on a metal box, disguised like the younger sister of Bitelchus and screaming full of rage, smiling maliciously at the audience and even throwing herself to the floor in front of the first rows. The audience immediately responds and fills the empty space in front of the stage, and there is a great chemistry all over the show with the band. You pay for the whole concert ticket, but you only need to be in the first row to appreciate the good manners of these Norwegian that have yet a lot to offer.
Photos: Eduardo Alonso