Exclusive Artist Diary with ... THE ALPINE - November 13, 2006
"The help from the Danish national radio P3 has been priceless to us! They haven’t been afraid to playlist our songs even before we had a record deal, and that is very rare in Denmark,"... so goes The Alpine's confident climb to Denmark's charts, followed by an international major record deal that is set to turn them into a household name.
Instead a collection of in-jokes and trivia, The Alpine map out the skin and bones of their progress, each turn in their career an example for a steady, professional build-up towards success.
Like many other bands we met in high school and started playing together in different groups. We formed the band Aroma, which, after various line-up changes, eventually became The Alpine as we know it today.
Living in Aalborg in the northern part of Denmark, we created studio and rehearsal facilities called Quinten together with other young musicians from the city. Here we had our second home and gave birth to numerous recordings.
Some of those ended up on the table of producer Kasper Windings, a well known singer/producer from Denmark. Peter, our lead singer, saw one of his concerts and went backstage after the show to hand him a demo CD. A week later Kasper called him and asked for a meeting and immediately invited the whole band to Copenhagen for studio sessions.
Throughout the following year we recorded for a forthcoming debut release with both him and an English producer called Rik Simpson. However the project got stranded and left us back on our own without a record deal. But we were nevertheless much more mature as a band, and having the name Kasper Winding was good to put in our CV because all Danes know him.
In the fall of 2002 we released the promo CD ‘World Record’ and started booking our own live shows. Soon the venues in Denmark noticed the band from the north and throughout 2003 we played a lot of live shows. Danish national radio, P3, playlisted the song ‘Ground beneath Me’ in the spring of 2003 after it topped their demo chart for several weeks.
Around that time we were chosen to take part in a project called Upcoming.dk initiated by Rytmisk Musik Danmark and Christian Backman from EMI. The purpose of this project was to help and guide selected bands forward towards a musical career.
We also signed with Swedish management Promopop and went to Stockholm, Sweden in April 2003 to do our first Swedish showcase. A month later we performed at the annual SPOT festival in Aarhus. It’s a festival for both the public and the music industry.
After a gig at Von Hatten in Randers, The Alpine was spotted by a booker from Loudness, a young and innovative booking agency, with whom we started working shortly after. This collaboration proved to be very fruitful, as both parties were eager to get ahead in the music business, and Loudness got us out to a lot of great gigs.
In the summer of 2003 the band went back in the studio to record. The result was the EP entitled ‘Four New Numbers’, and the lead track from it, ‘Too Many Monsters’, soon became a follow-up for ‘Ground Beneath Me’ on P3.
We also did our first ever music video for ‘Too Many Monsters’ with the young director Lars Terp. Though the video was made under extreme low-budget conditions it made it to No.1 on Nordiska Videolistan a Finnish TV show featuring a Nordic video chart, very similar to MTV UpNorth.
All along the way we have met young innovative go-getters who believe in what they do and who aren’t afraid to help and give something unknown a chance even though there is no immediate profit…Lars Terp was one of them!
In 2003 we all moved to Copenhagen, first of all to better our chances in the music industry, but also because we simply felt the need to try something new. Copenhagen is the cultural centre of Denmark and in order to pursue our dream 100% it was necessary to move to the big city.
This was a turning point in our career as we now based our whole existence on the band and in many ways had to start from scratch, finding a rehearsal room etc.
This band has always been about hard work and persistence so in Copenhagen we simply continued the process of being an upcoming band. Writing songs, recording demos, playing gigs, promoting…
Despite the lack of a record deal we continued our excessive touring in Denmark throughout 2004. Furthermore the band was chosen by Danish TV show Boogie as semi-finalists in their 'Starfighter' competition, where the first prize is a gig at Denmark’s second biggest festival Skanderborg Festival, as well as a nice cheque.
At the same time both national and local radio stations in Denmark began playing the song 'High Underground', another track from the EP ‘Four New Numbers’.
In the fall of 2004, in our search for the right person to produce our demo we asked Danish producer (and lead singer in Superheroes) Thomas Troelsen (Junior Senior, Melody Club etc.) about using his studio Delta Lab. He immediately recommended Marco Manieri because he'd been working in Delta Lab before.
We all knew about him because he had produced the first The Ark album which we all liked, so we were keen on the idea. We had a meeting with Marco and we all felt certain that he was the one. As he's part owner of the famous Gula Studion (Franz Ferdinand, Cardigans etc.) in Malmö. It was obvious to do it there instead of Delta Lab.
The band went to Sweden to begin recording and three new songs were done. In early 2005 the song 'Trigger' from these sessions became the fourth The Alpine tune to be playlisted on P3 radio.
Half of the demo was paid for by the Danish record label Copenhagen Records, because their A&R wanted to hear us on a ‘real’ production. The other half was paid by a music organisation called Rytmisk Musik Danmark which supports upcoming music in Denmark.
The help from the Danish national radio P3 has been priceless to us! They haven’t been afraid to playlist our songs even before we had a record deal, and that is very rare in Denmark.
Around the same time, we became a popular name on MyMusic as well - the biggest website in Denmark for upcoming music - getting great reviews and a feature as Band of the week.
The booking agency Loudness fused with Offbeat and we signed a new deal with them. We were in talks with other agencies but especially one guy from Offbeat called Malte Erbs had always believed in us and we felt the most comfortable with him.
They put us on our first German tour in late April 2005, which was arranged by the German agency Polar Zoo and supported by the Danish rock council, ROSA, which also included the bands first live TV-performance on the music show ‘Blend' on TD1. This tour proved to be a very important step in our career, because it is in Germany that our present management spotted us.
At a gig at the Magnet Club, on that very tour, we met the Berlin-based management agency Exzess Berlin and a contract was signed shortly after that. Signing with Exzess Berlin has probably been the smartest thing we have done so far. It is the greatest feeling to have partners who really believe in you, and who are professional in everything they do! They have really lifted some weight off our shoulders!
Having joined forces with a top-tuned management and made the basis for a stronger international chart-attack, we went off to London in late May 2005. After being selected among thousands of bands The Alpine were among 10 European acts invited to take part in the music documentary/reality show MTV A Cut.
We first heard of MTV A Cut via an email from a friend who thought it might be of interest. So we simply sent a CD like everybody else. Later on it was also announced on various websites that MTV was looking for bands.
We didn't give it much thought and were actually quite sceptical about the whole thing. On the day we left for our first small German tour (where we met Exzess for the first time) we got a call from MTV telling us we were in.
The 10 bands competed for a support slot for Anastacia, and a week of rehearsing, gigging, recording (in Abbey Road) and hanging out in London was filmed for the TV show and aired all over Europe on MTV in the fall of 2005. Anastacia was among the judges and we made it to the finals and ended as No.2 in the show.
As a result, the interest in us increased among many record companies outside of Denmark, and combined with the hard work of Exzess Berlin, the future for the band suddenly had a whole new perspective. It seemed to be Sony BMG who were flirting the most with us, and once again our management played a big role.
They could help us with all the legal stuff and advise us on what was ‘standard’ in the business and what wasn’t. They’ve worked in the industry for many years and we could, and still do, feed off their expertise.
Shortly after the MTV A Cut adventure had ended, a showcase was set up in Copenhagen by Exzess Berlin and Offbeat, and among those invited were the German-based record label Gun Records – a sub-label to Sony/BMG. This gave us a unique opportunity to perform in front of all of the business people, and meet them face to face.
The showcase was a success, the chemistry was right and a few weeks later The Alpine landed their first ever record deal. The deal is with Gun Records, and is an international deal, with Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as key territories.
The work on the forthcoming debut album immediately continued in the Gula Studion in Malmö, Sweden and once again The Alpine teamed up with producer Marco Manieri.
In between the recording sessions in Sweden we spent time in Germany, playing promo gigs, filmed the music video to the first single ‘Mondays Look The Same’ (a song the band wrote while being on the MTV show in London) and warmed up for Anastacia at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam.
By the end of November 2005 the album work was almost done and release territories such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden were confirmed. First country to release the album was our home country of Denmark where it hit the stores on the 27th of February, 2006.
The single ‘Mondays Look The Same’ made it into the Danish single charts, as Track of the Week on Danish National Radio P3, Pick Of The Week on MTV and a long German tour was scheduled for the rest of the year. A year like no other in the career of The Alpine, and a strong indicator of what 2006 might bring.
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