With a recent support slot to Paradise Lost, a new album, and a headline slot at The Dev during Desertfest this Friday, these are heady times for Birmingham doom alumni Alunah. ZT have teamed up with Heavy Psych Sounds to bring you an exclusive premiere of the band’s new single, the title track from new album Strange Machine. Enjoy the video and then read what singer Siân Greenaway and guitarist Matt Noble have to say in exclusive conversation with Paul Castles.
ZT: Congratulations on the new Alunah album Strange Machine. The reviews have been very supportive – how are you feeling about it?
ALUNAH: We had a lot of fun making this album, we really just went balls to the wall and did whatever took our fancy without the idea that we needed to fit into any kind of box, I guess that’s why it came out as diverse as it has and in places a bit wacky.
ZT: Do you think this album has taken the band in a slightly different musical direction?
A: I wouldn’t say we’re planning on completely moving away from a previous sound, just expanding. You can’t be in a band that’s been together this long and still be doing the same thing six albums down the line, we needed to experiment, not just for the fans but for ourselves as well, keeps it fresh and exciting!
ZT: Did things come together as you had hoped – or were there any hurdles you had to overcome?
A: In all honesty, since Violet Hour we never found writing difficult, we have an abundance of ideas for songs, they just keep flowing. The only difficulties this time around was being separated during lockdown, it just meant we had to bounce ideas to each other through email rather than face to face in a room. At the same time, that meant by the time we were able to get together we had strong bones for an album and were able to just do some finishing touches.
ZT: Just outline how the actual songwriting process works now within the band?
A: There’s two different ways we do it, we either jam things with the whole band in the rehearsal room and form a song that way, or Siân and Matt will start a song by putting some things down as a demo so we have the start of something and we then take that into the rest of the band to finish it all off together. Matt and Dan come up with most of the riffs but we do all have an input. Once the instrumentals are done that’s when Siân will do her melody and lyrics.
ZT: With Siân, do you feel this record really has your stamp on it and that you’ve now got the band more in step with your own image and style?
A: My personality shows more on this record than the last two for sure. I let loose and pushed myself and I’m really happy with how it came out, but this is absolutely a record that was a team effort, the way it’s come together has an influence from us all. The more ridiculous and weird parts are 100% me though, I just appreciate the others letting me do that, even though I’m as mad as a box of frogs they didn’t reign me in too much.
ZT: How frustrating was it to find the band activities curtailed by the pandemic, so soon after Matt actually joined the band?
A: It was tough to join a band as the world had already shut its doors, knowing that the ease of opportunities wouldn’t be the same as before I had joined – perhaps never again – and it tested my resolve to keep my head down and work hard until restrictions began to ease again. Fortunately, we’ve begun to see light at the end of the tunnel and going on tour with Paradise Lost and seeing the reception to our new album, a product of the pandemic, seems to have made it all worth it.
ZT: You’ve got an important slot coming up this week at Desertfest – how are you looking forward to that?
A: Desertfest is one of our favourite festivals and this lineup is killer, so of course it’s an honour for us to be a part of such a prestigious show. We are excited for everyone to hear the new material and are absolutely ready to blow the roof off The Dev on the Friday night!
ZT: Do you feel that Alunah are very much kindred spirits with bands performing at that festival?
A: We actually feel like we are probably one of the more ‘outsider’ bands to be playing a festival like this. These festivals are often male dominated so having a female singer already sets you apart from the rest, and our sound, especially with how it is now doesn’t particularly fit into that doom/stoner mould. Of course it’s never a bad thing to stand out! The lineup is particularly excellent this year and there are plenty of bands we can’t wait to check out, so it’s really special to be performing alongside them and to share that Desertfest connection.
ZT: Will there be any summer festivals for the band this year?
A: We have Brighton’s Doomsday Fest in June which has a killer lineup including bands like Primordial, Arcturus and Onslaught. Some other things we can’t announce just yet but will soon!
ZT: As a doom band from Birmingham is there any sense of feeling that you’re carrying on a proud legacy for the city, stretching back to Sabbath of course?
Sabbath are the fathers of the scene. Without them none of us as bands would sound the way we do, or probably even exist. Birmingham truly is the home of heavy metal and you can’t help but feel proud of being in a British heavy metal band and saying you’re from Birmingham. We hope we’re making you proud Ozzy!