During their ‘Three at 303′ residency, Rochelle caught up with the two lads from Alma Kalorama – Dave and Coops. With one track under their belt, they’re relatively fresh. Despite this – they’re a wealth of knowledge (and don’t take a bad photo either).
Who are Alma Kalorama? Tell us a bit about yourselves and what you guys do.
Dave: Well I’m Dave.
Coops: And I’m Coops – or Michael, either or. Not quite sure just yet.
Dave: I play drums.
Coops: And I play guitar and do the singing.
I understand you guys are a relatively new band – so how did you guys come to be? Have you brought experience over from other projects?
Dave: Yeah, we’ve actually been playing in bands together for about 7 years. We met in a four piece band through some mutual friends, and then I went on to join another band that Coops was in, which was a three piece.
Coops: We were in the band for five years probably. Put out a few EP’s and did lots of tours up and down the coast. We just kind of got to the end of the band and took a bit of a break. We were always going to play music again, together – we just weren’t really sure what form it’d be in. I guess the two piece thing didn’t really happen by design, it sort of just happened because we’ve just always played music together. We didn’t really have the energy to do the whole ‘looking for members’ type thing, so we just thought ‘let’s roll with this – and see where it leads us.’
Dave: I think it was a case of trying not to think about it too much as well. We kind of had a whole bunch of songs on the go from pretty early on – Coops is a pretty prolific writer so there’s always a lot of material. In the sense of recording and also in a live, we just didn’t want to overthink it too much. So in recording the songs, we didn’t want to put any limitations on ourselves and what we would do. It’s really just taking each song on face value and just working out what needs to be done. Then when it gets to actually playing it live, we’ve kind of just find how to play it as a two piece. So recording and live are two separate things. Although we try to not make it too difficult for ourselves, we have just been trying to let everything happen organically.
You’ve said that you try not to put limitations on yourself as a two pieces – but do you find that they tent to crop up beyond your control?
Coops: I think we find more limitations when we’re recording – we’ve just kind of gone in with the mindset of ‘if a song needs to have 40 tracks on it, it’ll have 40 tracks, or if it need 2 tracks – then it’ll have just that’. Obviously when we play live, we’ve only got 4 arms and 4 legs, so we can’t. That’s almost the most rewarding part though, having these challenges. After recording, we went into the live mindset and kind of just tried to forget everything we’d done in the studio and thought – ‘well if we had to record this live, in this band room, how would we play them?’ It took us ages to figure out.
Dave: It was pretty hard. It took a lot of time and stages to work out. Then it kind of felt like it eventually clicked. Maybe it wasn’t going to be an exact representation, but in that sense the songs just continues to grow. I think that we’ve learnt over the years that recording a song is one thing, but then when it comes to live it’s a whole different thing. So i think that the song naturally progresses. We try not to bookend a song as being ‘finished’ – it can continue to grow.
Coops: It’s like that old folk song tradition. You can interpret a song in so many different ways. So why couldn’t we interpret our songs in different ways?
What do you think it means to be an independent band in Australia?
Dave: I feel like it’s changed a lot over the years. I think that the days of record labels coming in and throwing money at a band are pretty much dead and buried – unless you were from that era and still carrying on.
Do you think that independence is just not being signed to major label – or does independence have different brackets these days?
Dave: It’s probably a little bit of both, I suppose.
Coops: When I’ve thought of independence, i’ve always thought it to be just a day to day management kind of thing. More so, if you’ve got a heavy backing behind you. If you’re running your own band and taking pride in how you present it and what you believe in, you’re still independent. I don’t think major labels are a bad thing at all, I think you can definitely still maintain independence on a major labels. A lot of band I love have done just that.
I think it’s when you’ve got 40 people working for you and, you know, going down and buying drugs for you that you’re probably not on your own anymore.
Dave: In a way, more bands are wanting to take control of their own message – in some ways, potentially if you have more people involved your message might become a little more convoluted. If you’re doing it yourself, no one cares more about or knows about what you’re trying to put across more than yourself.
What are you working on at the moment, and where do you seeing Alma Kalorama going?
Coops: Well we’ve only put out the one song so far, but we’ve got a big batch of songs – definitely an albums worth – we’d like to put out next year. A lot of that is recorded already, I really like the idea of bands just putting out albums, and kind of leaving a real catalog. In our last band we put this idea of an album up on such a high pedestal that was had to tock ll these boxes before we could do one. It’s just a representation of a time period within your band, with the songs that you’re playing at that time. I’d love to just do a good album, and play a lot of gigs.
Dave: Yeah we definitely have a hunger to get out on the road and tour. That was something that we’d enjoyed a lot in previous bands – just getting out on the road and playing as much as possible. I think that once we finish this little residency that we’re doing, we’ll load up and get ready to hit the road. Whether we put out a single at the start of the year and work towards an album by mid year, we’ve just got to get ourselves into the studio and finish things off. We’ve got a lot of incomplete pieces hanging around that w just need to spend a bit of time on. I think once we get in there, it won’t take too long.
Coops: Then we’ll just hire a hatchback and tour the country. It’s all economical.