A Q&A with Ali in the Jungle
Exuberant genre-juggling from Milton Keynes – here’s Chris Allen from Ali in the Jungle…
How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The title of our debut EP is ‘Anyway’, and we took a long time deciding over it. It comes from the lyrics of ‘People Change’ – we didn’t want to simply pick the title of a song, or a lyric which appeared really often, since that can be a bit unimaginative. Before recording this EP we had no good-quality recorded music, despite having been a band for years, so we were desperate to get some music recorded ‘any way’ we could. Tim wanted it to be an offhand, seemingly-innocuous title which contrasted nicely with the intricate lyrics. I think it works well for the EP.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
This was the first proper recording we’ve done, which is mad considering we’ve been together for over eight years. We learnt a lot of lessons the hard way through releasing ‘Anyway’. We’d underestimated the amount of time it would take to get it all ready, so we kind of rushed the release of it. Plus we’ve only recently come to appreciate the role of PR in connecting fans with our music and getting our presence out there. But now we know to plan the release date and PR campaign well in advance, think about what our aims are for the release, and hopefully reach as many listeners as possible.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
‘Anyway’ was produced by Ru Cook at Lost Boys Studio. Working with Ru gave us a different perspective on our music and helped us think more critically about which songs we wanted to record. There were basic things about the recording process that we had no idea about before going into the studio, like figuring out the tempos and making a guide take for each song beforehand. Ru was fantastic at listening to what we wanted and delivering it where possible, but also wasn’t shy about putting forward suggestions for how to produce the songs. We’re really happy with how the EP turned out and that’s due in no small part to the great producing.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
A sense of never having quite heard something like that before. I think innovation is one of the best things a band can aim for, and I like to think that we try to create something new through the combination of genres we use.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
Usually, one of us will come up with a chord sequence or part of a song, and work on it with one other person. For example, Tim will write a chorus and share it with Sam, and they’ll try and write more for it. Then they’ll take it to me and Ali and we’ll jam over it to try and get more ideas, or add existing parts that we’ve written if they go well together. Then we refine it over a period of months, sometimes years (!) until the finished song has the precise emotional impact that we think it should have.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Personally, I find it hard to put my finger on exactly who/what has influenced me. However, when I think about music I used to listen to when I was first learning electric guitar, I can identify sections of certain songs and think ‘that’s where I first heard that sound that I now really love’. So in that way, it would be albums like Two Door Cinema Club’s Tourist History, Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, The Wombats’ This Modern Glitch, plus random songs like ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits and ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine’ by The Killers. More recently, I’ve been perhaps more influenced by The Strokes, Paul Simon, Marika Hackman, Talking Heads, and so on.
When the world is back to normal where would you like to tour, and why?
We’ve not yet embarked on a proper tour, so even the south of England would be fantastic. We love playing in London, but we’d like to expand our repertoire of venues to Birmingham and Oxford.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
‘Drunk Generation’. It has the energy and drive that typifies a live AITJ performance, razor-sharp lyrics, and strong performances from each and every instrument. It’s a stone-cold bop which has all the key ingredients of our music: cheeky wit, tempo changes, superb bass parts, and genre-bending fun.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
I don’t want to be too specific about what I’d like the band to achieve. I love making music and wouldn’t want it to go too far down the ‘business’ route of setting targets and quotas. In an ideal world, I’d love to see us join a record label and produce an album; it would be great to play at an iconic venue like Ally Pally too. But as long as we’re still enjoying it, let’s just wait and see where it takes us.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
We’ve been Ali In The Jungle, you’ve been people in the audience, thank you and have a great night!
For more info visit: aliinthejungle.co.uk