Meet Alvarez Kings, your new favorite UK-based alt-pop band. A small obsession with ‘The Sopranos’ led to their band name, as they tell us, but fortunately, they are not being chased down by the Mob. Phew!
This conversation with Sean Parkin and Simon Thompson of Alvarez Kings has been edited and condensed for clarity. I could have goofed off all day with these guys, but alas, they had a show to play. Click through our gallery to see pics of their visit to HollywoodLife.com!
Welcome back to America! How’s it going?
Simon: The humidity is destroying my vocal chords on a daily basis. So thank you, America.
Ha. Well, tonight you’re playing New York — have you played here before?
Sean: Never heard of it. [Laughs] No, we’re playing the Knitting Factory [in Brooklyn], which we’ve never played before, but we have played a few times here.
How do you create a setlist each night?
Sean: It’s about taking people on a journey. It has to be dynamic. You want to come in with a bang, for example. We hit ’em in the face with music.
Simon: We’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re your act. Deal with it.’ Then we bring it back down again. We’ve been doing an acoustic song…
The “go and get beer” part of the show?
Simon: Yeah. [Laughs] I said that a few times. “This is your time to go and get beer. Bring me one back.” You can only leave to the bar if you bring me a drink.
What’s the first thing you feel when you step onstage?
Simon: “Am I going to be able to sing tonight?”
Because of the humidity?
Simon: Because my voice may decide to kick me in the ass and take the night off.
It’s going to get a beer.
Simon: Yeah. What do you think about first, Sean? “Don’t fall off the stage?”
Sean: I can’t honestly say that I’m thinking. It’s things like, “Did I leave my laptop turned on?”
Simon: “Is there anybody out there?”
Any backstage rituals?
Simon: Backstage, we huddle and we sing, “Is this Love?”
What’s the weirdest or most unique venue you’ve played?
Sean: Thekla [in Bristol, England] is this ship that you play inside. It’s a full-on venue and the sound just bounces around. Exotic, yeah.
Simon: You’re on water…
Sean: The stage is technically underwater…
Simon: A cool song to go on stage to would be the Titanic theme song.
Sean: Or The Little Mermaid.
Let’s talk about Somewhere Between, your new album!
Simon: It’s been well received by the people who received it. General consensus is, “Boy’s done good.” No, but it’s cool to see people’s reaction because it’s been out since April, but they haven’t heard most of the songs live yet.
Sean: It’s a bit more of a rock show than what the album suggests.
Which is your favorite track to play live?
Simon: “Somewhere Between” is a banger.
Sean: For me, “Fear To Feel.”
Simon: And “Cold Conscience.”
Where did your band name come from?
Simon: That came from a band member’s obsession with mafia culture. A lot of The Sopranos was being watched at the time, and the name crept up. It’s the name of a hopefully-defunct South American gang. We stole it from them.
Sean: So far we’re not being hunted.
Simon: We don’t really like other bands. No, I’m kidding.
Sean: Flume or The Weeknd.
Simon: That’d be a sick twist.
On to the random questions. What’s your advice to humanity?
Simon: Slow it down. Take a chill pill. Stop bombing each other. Just chill.
What was your first AOL screenname?
Sean: Yeah! It was MSN messenger, but mine was “HendrixsKing.” I was always obsessed with [Jimmy] Hendrix.
Simon: Can’t remember mine.
If you can’t remember, you have to give us a different embarrassing anecdote.
Sean: [Laughs] Got you on that one.
Simon: I don’t! Help me, Sean.
Sean: I didn’t know you then.
Have you had a memorable gesture from a fan?
Simon: Someone’s got “Alvarez Kings” tattooed…
Sean: Well, Richard’s got it.
Simon: He’s also got his own name on his back.
Sean: We call him “Wack,” and he’s got that across his back in old English writing. It’s a terrible tattoo.
Simon: It’s in case he’s found face-down.
If someone hasn’t heard you before, what song should they listen to first?
Sean: “Cold Conscience” and “Sleepwalking Pt. II.”
Simon: “Fear to Feel” and “The Other Side Of Sadness.”
Anything else in the pipeline?
Simon: We’re working on…stuff.
Sean: There will potentially be another single that’s not on the album!
Stream Somewhere Between here, and listen to Alvarez Kings’ latest single “Get Up and Move On” below: