After meeting at Leeds University in 2007, the members of indie-rock band alt-J quickly began recording their first songs on GarageBand. In 2014, the band released their sophomore album This Is All Yours, which garnered critical acclaim and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. The Daily Texan spoke with keyboardist and backing vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton about the band’s latest album and the departure of bassist Gwil Sainsbury.
Daily Texan: alt-J is kind of known for being hard to describe or fit into any one genre. How does that impact the way you guys make your music?
Gus Unger-Hamilton: I think it’s very freeing. It’s nice not to have to feel pressured to write certain kinds of songs. We like the band to develop naturally, so we don’t really set out with any expectations.
DT: Were there any major differences in the way you all approached your most recent album?
GUH: I think in a way, we tried to recreate the same feel as the first album. I think we always made sure there’s a certain atmosphere where we don’t take things too seriously. We make things first and foremost about having a good time and making music together.
DT: What’s your favorite part of performing?
GUH: I think it’s the moment when you see someone in the crowd, with their eyes closed, having their own kind of private moment. Of course, it’s great seeing people excited and singing along to our songs, but seeing someone who doesn’t care about anything but the music in that moment — it’s amazing.
DT: Have you guys had any moments where it felt like all of the effort you guys have put in was finally worth it?
GUH: I mean, you get them all the time really. Touring and everything can be very tough, but it’s also very awesome. I don’t think I can even think of a specific moment. We’re just so lucky to have gotten where we are.
DT: Did the making of this album help the band get over Sainsbury’s departure?
GUH: We obviously miss him, but I think certainly having a job to do and knowing we couldn’t just sit around really helped us move forward.
DT: What are some goals that you guys have going forward?
GUH: We’re not really a goal-oriented band. We just want our music to get better and better with every listen.