2012.04.04 – ALTERNATIVE 4 – Mark Kelson, Mauro Frison (interview)

Alternative 4

Could you tell us sth about beginning of Alternative 4? How it happened that you play in this band?

Mark: I had worked with Duncan over the years most notably in Íon – I contributed backing vocals on both albums and a little bit of guitar. As I was good friends with Duncan for more than ten years and he knew me from my work with The Eternal it just kind of fell into place, we share alot of opinions on music and the industry and I think he was looking for people to work with that would be fairy straight down the line and dedicated to the cause. After hearing a few demos I was very interested in being involved with the project, initially I was just to be guitar and backing vocals but I ended up on lead vocals which has been fun and challenging as the topic mater and vocal style is quite different to what I do in The Eternal.

Mauro: Yeah, I met Duncan few years ago while I was living in Argentina and we played together for the first time doing some of his previous projects songs and few covers. It was fun! Latter on I moved to Europe and immediately I was proposed to record “The Brink” album and then to be a member of the band.

Why Alternative 4? Is it deliberate action? You know „Alternative 4” is a one of the most popular Anathema’s album.

Mark: Well of course its a deliberate action, Duncan wrote the song Alternative 4 and a good portion of that album for Anathema, I think he was quite responsible for the band heading in the direction they did, knowing his song writing style I can hear very clearly his influence on those early Anathema albums. Duncan does not often big note his contribution to Anathema or the 1000 other bands that followed, but the man has had a massive influence on many musicians & as we know Alternative 4 is a landmark album and a testament to Duncan’s talent. So being this is Duncan’s first actual 'Full Band’ since Alternative 4 and conceptually it continues on with some of Duncan’s themes and ideas I can understand why Duncan would choose this name.

Your music isn’t similar to mentioned Anathema’s album – „The Brink” is much more depressive and…. slower?;-)

Mauro: Maybe, but I don´t think it was planned. I can notice Duncan´s personal style on Alternative 4 songs as in other of his (ex) projects too. I think that The Brink it´s a little bit more experimental and deeper than his previous works, but I can notice Duncan´s songwriting too. Probably it sounds more “depressive” in parts because there´s touch of other members and influences also.

Mark: The Brink is an amazingly textured and dark album, its not for the faint of heart or people not looking for music they need to absorb, I think the album goes back to some of duncan’s roots even before Alternative 4, yes it touches on doom, but it also touches on folk, celtic, ambient, psychedelic – its very diverse yet flows in a very consistant way and has some themes from start to finish which i think stick with you. If you know Duncan’s style of songwriting its not that far removed for what he is all about.

You have played some concerts – do you play whole „The Brink”?? Do you play any other songs?? Sorry I must ask this question – do you play any Anathema’s songs? 🙂

Mark: We play around 5-6 songs off The Brink, We do a Floyd song and I think we did 'Eternity II-III’, 'Destiny’ & 'Lost Control’ from Duncan’s Anathema, we also did 'Reality Clash’ from Antimatter – I think our versions of all these songs was done in a very 'Alternative 4′ kind of way, I’d love to see use record some of these songs particularly 'Reality Clash’ that fitted us so well. Its always a pleasure to perform a song like 'Lost Control’ its amazing to see the effect it has on people.

Mauro: Yeah, as Mark said, it was a great fun to see how people react about songs. We really enjoyed playing the whole set. Good atmosphere all the time between us. I think Reality Clash was one of the enjoyable songs for us during that tour, apart of The Brink songs of course. Yeah, Duncan´s songs from his times in Anathema are classic ones for the audience. It was amazing also for me as I´m a great fan of Eternity and Alternative 4 albums. That´s great to hear people singing the songs (especially when they´re on time haha). Great fun actualy.

Could you describe all Alternative 4 members (one sentence for one musician)?

Duncan – Songwriter, man with a vision, can be rather quite and intense yet loves a Gin and a chat.
Mauro – great drummer, amazingly enthusiastic and genuine person, which is what this band is about
Myself – creative, enthusiastic and enjoying every minute of working with such great guys and making some music with meaning.

Duncan: Amazing songwriter – Productive mind and professional musician and really good history teller.
Mark: Has everything what a good front-man should have (except of white boots!) – Really good singer/vocalist. Very funny rocker mate.
Myself: Well… I´m on the back playing drums hehe

Let’s back to the music. Do you have any ideas for the next album?

Mark: The new album is well underway, we have just signed with Prophecy Productions is Germany and we should be recording the second album later in the year called 'The Obscurants’ the material so far sounds fantastic!

Your favorite songs form „The Brink” is… (and why?)

Mauro: As a drummer I really enjoy False Light, Still Waters and Alternate because they´re more kind of “busy” than other songs. When I listen to the album it´s different. My favorite song is the instrumental one, Autonoma for many reasons (even having no drums on it haha). Basically, piano melody kills me. Also at the very end there´s some melody guitar sound over a chorus which makes me feel like being in the 70´s. I cannot chose a second favorite because I could change my mind tomorrow about it. It´s one of these albums that should be listened to from the beginning at to the end.

Mark: I think 'Still Waters’ is my favorite, it has this great bass line, with this great Nick Cave kind of feel, Nick being from Australia also I dig the vibe. And I think the songs is just very much what we are about, intensity, space, dynamics and colour, I also dig False Light & Automata alot, but its not a songs album, its a complete concept.

Alternative 4

We have beginning of 2012 – What album from 2011 was the best in your opinion?

Mark: I havent heard many albums made after around 1998 that effected me in anyway! But as well as my tastes for the avant garde ambient stuff I have a big love of 70’s rock and classic rock, so something like the last whitesnake or black country communion come to mind as albums I personally dug in 2011.

Mauro: Almost like Mark haha. I´m always trying to listen to/looking for “new” stuff but always come back with the bands I already like. About rock/metal from last year I like last Sólstafir (“Svartir Sandar”); Hathors (“Hathors”), really powerful garage rock album, Krux (“He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars”), Pentagram (“Last Rites”), Vader (“Welcome To The Morbid Reich”). Then some other different bands style, like Sofia Karlsson (Levande), Hildur Guðnadóttir („Without Sinking”).

Mauro – Poland is not unknown for you – I know that you have some connections with this country.

Mauro-: Yes, I do. I´ve been there many times (even living for few months) and I have many friends there!

Do you like Polish cuisine? ;-)))

Mauro: Dokładnie! Haha. I´m particularly in love with Polish food. I´ve tried almost every traditional dish there. Also I spent Christmas time there twice mainly because of the food. Karp it´s amazing! Poland made me liking soups, cucumber, cabbage,etc. Pierogi with meat and wild mushrooms are my favorite ones. I notice that Polish cuisine is based on simple ingredients but the way of cooking it´s very important. I mean, you can prepare many different dishes combining potatoes/cabbage/mushrooms, for example. But I think it´s a topic for separate interview haha… I´ve almost forgotten about makowiec!

Do you know any Polish bands?

Mauro: Sure, many of them. Of course I know popular bands like Riverside, Vader, Behemoth, Acid Drinkers, Kapela ze wsi Warszawa, and I like all of them. But when I was in Poland for a while I had possibility to get known other bands not very popular outside your country, like Maanam (I like very much their first albums), Closterkeller, Kult/El Dupa,Coma, Eternal Tear (good doom metal band from 90´s in Warsaw) and my favorite Grzegorz z Ciechowa. I´m sure I missed many others.

Thank you and I hope that one day you’ll play here in Poland.

We hope the same, thank you for your support. Fingers crossed to be there very soon!

Piotr Michalski

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