BAND INTERVIEW: The Alpacas – A Japanese/British/Romanian Hybrid

BAND INTERVIEW: The Alpacas – A Japanese/British/Romanian Hybrid

1 comment 📅25 May 2016, 13:59

The Alpacas

The final of the bands to perform at Flyjam Creative Agency’s Japan vs Britain spring event, The Alpacas are like a physical peace-treaty between the Japanese and British acts at the concert. Comprised of singer and guitarist Andrei Ionescu, guitarist Adam Leaver, bass guitarist Koichi Shoji, drummer Jon Scott, and keyboardist Misato Takeda, the band is effectively half British and half Japanese making them a great act to end the show.

Not many bands can say they are lyrics-driven, but for The Alpacas it’s the most important aspect of their band. Having first performed with their full-line up in the summer of 2015, the band have played shows across the country and their debut music video for “Pictures of You” was released in February.

All images of the band playing live by Chris Khin

The Alpacas2

You advertise yourselves as a multi-national band, how does this influence your music?

Andrei Ionescu: “Well because our band is comprised of two Brits, two Japanese and one Romanian in the band. I would say it goes to prove that music is universal, and people from all over the world can come together and make music better, music that anyone can relate to.”

Could you tell our readers a little bit more about the band?

AI: “The band, in its current format, got together in the summer of 2015 so we are quite fresh as a full band. But I started this band with a guitarist called Jorge Sapién maybe four years ago, and we played as a duo for a few years. But then we felt that the band needed a bigger sound, so we’ve taken all the songs that we recorded and composed, and now we are playing them in a full band format.”

Jon Scott: “Our individual styles have changed a bit, I think. I’ve certainly had to adjust my playing because my rock influence meant that I played the drums quite loud. So I realised that in the first band practice I needed hot rods to play with because otherwise the drums would be too much.”

AI: “I guess the music is a combination of pop, acoustic, and indie rock. It’s very much lyrics-driven, so everything starts with the lyrics and the music is built around them. The music itself is very melodic, so it’s not like a usual indie-sound that has these straight melodic lines, or electric guitars. I think that our songs have a bit more of a journey in them than the typical pop songs that is released now as well. The lyrics are quite meaningful in the sense that anyone can relate to them and their story since they’re mostly love songs, and songs that make you reflect.”

Misato Takeda: “We are also starting to work on new projects, rather than just working on the songs that Andrei and Jorge made in the past few years. We are trying to put them together and record them so we can release something more concrete sometime soon.”

Adam Leaver: “We have also been playing around with covers, and it’s quite interesting to see which songs we come up with because Andrei can sing quite high, and already there’s quite a lot of options and different styles. We found it interesting how the original songs that Andrei and Jorge wrote had a particular sound, and even now when we’re writing new material and doing covers, somehow the sound is still the same. There’s just an Alpacas sound which is interesting when it was born out of Andrei’s music.”

The Alpacas3

What kinds of covers do you do?

AI: “Well, we did ‘This is the Life’ by Amy Macdonald, and last week just after we found out that Prince was gone I sent a message asking the band if they thought we could pull off a tribute song.”

AL: “I actually said no, but I didn’t have a choice.”

AI: “So we decided to do ‘Purple Rain’ and did the song for the first time without practicing, and we are going to do it again tonight.”

MT: “We have other ideas for covers that we can do as well.”

What kind of bands or musicians have influenced your music style?

MT: “I think everyone has different influences.”

AI: “But I think that’s good.”

JS: “I’m quite into my rock stuff, I’d say.”

AI: “I grew up listening to the Beatles, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, all those ’60s rock bands.”

AL: “Me too actually, but then got into jazz later on. I think Koichi is into funk and jazz.”

JS: (To Adam) “You like all your dance stuff as well, don’t you? All your ’90s dance.”

MT: “I don’t think I have any musical influences. I was born and grew up in Japan so I think that helped my style.”

You recently released your first music video for “Pictures Of You”, and you’ve also been sending it to festivals. How has the reaction been?

AI: “Yeah, we submitted it to a few festivals and it got accepted so far into four of them, and we are still waiting for ten more answers. It’s been screened in London a few times, in the States, and all over the world so we are just waiting to see how it does. They only tell you if you’ve won, but I guess the people that listen to the music and see the video can then contact us from Bolivia.”

Have you written most of the lyrics then, Andrei?

AI: “Of the songs that we have in our current catalogue, they are mostly my lyrics and some are Jorge’s.”

The Alpacas5

What is the inspiration for your lyric writing?

AI: “I guess things I think that people need to think about in terms of relationships, and how people define them, or how they define love. How people connect to each other in a romantic way, and I guess what I’m trying to do with the lyrics is put things in different perspectives that you might not have thought about. The music is asking questions, and is waiting for an answer. The songs themselves do have a trend of philosophy in them which is probably why I am answering in this riddle-y fashion. I do have some new songs that I’ve written, but I need to bring it to the band so that we can create new music.”

How do you feel about tonight, and going up against all these different bands/artists?

AL: “It’s nice to be headlining, we are very different to the other bands. We are much more subtle.”

AI: “I think because we’re the last band, and half of the band is Japanese and the other half is British we are kind of making peace at the end of the night.”

What are your future plans?

AI: “We’d like to put together an album, we have most of the tracks now, but we are looking for some kind of emotion or someone to help us define our image or look better. When we get these things in order then we can release this album that we are working on slowly. We were hoping to do it this summer actually, at least an EP. I think we have enough tracks for an album, but we need to find the right moment and the right audience to release it to because once you release material it could fly off to outer space and now or be heard by anyone. We have to be careful about how we promote this music that we have.”

1 Comment

  1. Florin
    26 May 2016, 20:16 Florin

    I like the music but they must change their name. Why?,,
    Too many Alpacas for such a small planet!
    Apropo, this multinational band has a site? A! Finally I’ve found their Facebook page and site.

    Reply to this comment

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