Nine Black Alps

March 15, 2006

“American groups are more interested in raw attitude, whereas British groups tend to be all about fashion,” explains Nine Black Alps’ singer/guitarist Sam Forrest as to why his band shunned the musical roots of their native Manchester, England in favor of American influences such as Sonic Youth and Neil Young.

“Still, influences aside, I don’t quite understand how people can categorize us,” chimes in co-guitarist David Jones. “We’re still struggling to find out where we actually stand ourselves."

On the band’s debut album, Everything Is [Interscope], it’s strikingly clear that, at he heart of Nine Black Alps’ sound, are the dense guitars of Forrest and Jones, which present a thunderous yin to the yang of their more pointed pop instincts.

“We each tune down a whole-step, and, sometimes, I’ll drop the low D down to C, explains Jones. “But we don’t limit ourselves to just one-finger power chords. On the tune ‘Get Your Guns,’ for example, I’m playing a one-fingered riff in dropped-C, but I also use my ring finger to add notes on the second and third strings. It’s almost like a double barre chord.”

For the track, “Behind Your Eyes,” Forrest used a rather sublime alternate tuning.

“It’s D, F, C, F, A, C, low to high,” he explains. “I was playing with that tuning while I was learning to fingerpick by listening to the Beatles’ White Album. Before I knew it, ‘Behind Your Eyes’ came out in a stream of consciousness. That tune is unlike anything else on the album, but I think it was a good idea to stick it right in the middle of the record to break up the monotony of the heavier stuff.”

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