Alt j – the indie phenomenon



Alt-J (also known as ) is an English indie rock band formed in 2007 in Leeds, by Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) and Thom Green (drums). But describing them as an “indie rock band” would be unfair and inaccurate. Their name is the keystroke for rendering a delta symbol on a Mac.

The debut album An Awesome Wave was released in May 2012 in Europe and September 2012 in the United States, and won the 2012 British Mercury Prize. Their second album, This Is All Yours, was released on 22 September 2014 and went straight to UK number one.

The band has formed in 2007, when they meet at the Leeds University studying fine art. Their unusual sound stems from the fact that due to living in student halls, where noise had to be kept to a minimum, they were unable to use bass guitars or bass drums. Says Newman, “I basically went to art school to start a band.”and Gus remembers “We didn’t go out much, we weren’t socialites at all. We’d just keep working on the record.”


Alt-J’s success is in large part thanks to Green’s inventive drumming.Thom Green had the hardest life by far, in fact he suffers from Alport syndrome, a rare genetic disease which causes hearing and kidney failure. As a result, he is now about 80 percent deaf. When Alt-J started touring, he sent an e-mail to Widex, a manufacturer of digital hearing aids; the company gave him an endorsement deal, fitting him with custom-built devices. “They would cost about 12,000 pounds if I had to pay for them” he says.

Their debut album An Awesome Wave was released on 28 May 2012 in the UK, Europe, and Australia, and on 18 September 2012 in North America via Canvasback Music. The album received largely favourable reviews and was described as a “captivating blend of insatiable grooves and profound poignancy”.

After winning the Mercury Prize in 2012 their life changed quickly. They say: “there was a sense of [being]imposters, that the band had somehow got this far without not being a real band, we’re just guys from Leeds who muddled through it and magicked a Mercury award”

While touring the first album they started writing the second one, “This Is All Yours” released on September 22, 2014 by Infectious Records. This release received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album at the 57th Grammy Awards, and for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award.  They recorded album number two in Iguana Studio in south London with producer Charlie Andrew, who also worked on their debut.

Alt-J build seemingly incompatible elements into spry, surprisingly catchy rock: acoustic instruments meet electronic textures; double-time tempos crash into lurching, Timbaland–style beats; and weird folk harmonies give way to punishing distortion.
Rolling Stones

Speaking to NME about sampling Miley Cyrus – their fan N.1 – on their comeback single ‘Hunger Of The Pine’, Unger-Hamilton said that the vocal sample “gave the song an extra kick, like putting whisky in coffee.” Here the track:

This fall they will be touring in North America.
Pre-sale tickets are available now, general sale starts Friday April 3rd at 10am EST.
Once general sale begins you will be able to purchase tickets by visiting –





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