EMQ’s With ALPHA BOÖTIS
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Montreal, Canada based Space Disco Synth Metal band, Alpha Boötis. Huge thanks to vocalist/guitarist, Ozymandias, for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Greetings! I am Ozymandias, and I play guitar and sing in the band Alpha Boötis. Our music is an eclectic mix of heavy metal, progressive rock, synthwave, and cyberpunk soundtracks. The story of Alpha Boötis is full of happy accidents and fortuitous meetings. The band started in 2016 as a synthwave studio project between my co-writer Frak and me, but it quickly snowballed into a full band when we were asked to play a show the day after we released our first EP. Since then, we’ve become a 5-piece band featuring a saxophonist, two vocalists, tons of synthesizers, and a guitar-drum-bass rhythm section.
How did you come up with your band name?
Our name is the Latin name for Arcturus, one of the shiniest stars in our night sky and a close neighbour to our Sun. The first song we produced as a duo was called Jump To Alpha Boötis, and the name just made sense. It felt full of wonder and drove home the space exploration and science-fiction theme of the band.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
We are from Montréal, Canada. The metal scene here is massive; it’s full of great death metal, black metal and folk metal bands. The city’s rock scene is heavily influenced by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Arcade Fire, or Karkwa — just a few of the prominent acts that have exploded onto the world stage from the Montreal scene. We’ve lost a few iconic underground venues in the last few years, whether from escalating rents, noise complaints or the pandemic — so the local scene probably won’t be as vibrant in 2021 than it was before, but there’s still hope for a swift recovery.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
The “Stowaway Ants” EP came out on December 11th. It’s a three-song EP that features the two original songs that didn’t fit with our next record’s storyline or concept, but that we felt the urge to release. The title track tells the story of a colony of ants, stowed away on a human spaceship and colonizing an exoplanet. It was inspired by a road trip on which I embarked in 2019, during which a lonely ant travelled from North Carolina to New Jersey (more than 800 miles!) aboard our car. I remember thinking how massive a change that must have been on her scale, and how it compared to interstellar travel for us humans.
Also on that EP is a cover of The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ which we recorded in 2018. We turned the song upside down into a minor key, and it really highlights the unhealthy obsession and stalking behaviours of the narrator.
‘Stowaway Ants’ (Audio)
‘Every Breath You Take’ (The Police Cover) (Rick Here – This is an awesome cover)
Who have been your greatest influences?
Personally, Steven Wilson, Devin Townsend and Mikael Akerfeldt. I really enjoy how much care and attention they put into their music, how clearly they can articulate their vision, and the courage they have shown time and time again in moving forward with their work.
Their music and the way they talk about it really connected with me profoundly. Musically though, the band draws from a wide range of sounds, including Pink Floyd, Yes, Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Daft Punk, Rush, Tangerine Dream, Carpenter Brut, Dynatron, and Coheed & Cambria, just to name a few of the more obvious influences. We’re also inspired by authors such as Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Norman Spinrad and films like Blade Runner, The Matrix, or 2001: A Space Odyssey.
What first got you into music?
My mom once told me that I started singing along to music in the car before I was even able to talk, so I guess we can safely say that music was always a part of me. In elementary school, I would constantly come up with melodies and mutter songs to myself, even in class! It would drive my classmates crazy, and one of them told me to “sing in my head”. I’m still able to this day to play back entire records inside my head, and I always have a personal jukebox playing when I’m bored. As for instruments, I started piano at 8 or 9, but quickly lost interest because I found practicing to be boring. I later discovered progressive rock and metal, picked up guitar at 12, and quickly formed a band with Harakoa, my longtime friend and singer/keyboardist of Alpha Boötis.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
As far as bucket list collaborations go, I’d be thrilled to collaborate on music with Daft Punk. They create such amazing songs, exploring the possibilities of pop and dance music and telling vibrant stories with such economy of words. Having them produce an album of mine or co-write songs would be a dream come true.
I love collaborating with other musicians — which is why I try to always work with co-writers in all my projects — and I’m really stoked on some of the collabs we have coming up.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
I’d love playing Download in the UK. I grew up reading Metal Hammer, and that festival always sounded like a blast! Plus, it would be nice to play music in Europe.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
We’re a young band still, so we haven’t received any unusual gifts from fans yet. I did meet my girlfriend at one of our shows though, which is the greatest gift of all!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
It might sound cliché, but you’re all truly beautiful, amazing people; talking with you at shows, reading your comments on social media, and seeing the excitement in your eyes when we play live is one of the most heart-warming and fulfilling things in the world. Stay awesome, you beautiful nerds. Oh, and wear a mask so we can play some shows before our retirement tour!
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
It might seem like an obvious answer, but I think Jimi Hendrix is the icon who had the most things left unsaid after his untimely death. I learned recently that he was starting to experiment with synthesizers, space-inspired concept albums, and science-fiction, and I think his work would have been tremendously important had he not passed away when he did.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Aside from writing and playing music, I really enjoy meeting and connecting with people. Music has always been a way for humans to connect, and that communal aspect is really fulfilling to me. What I hate the most is a very specific moment, when you’re unsure if your song is done, if it’s any good. or if you should banish it to the void. Those moments are agonizing, and I try to avoid them by working with team members or peers who can bring me perspective.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I would shorten copyright terms to 50 years. The fact that songs from 100 years ago are still not in the public domain is a disastrous situation; the current system only benefits the estate of dead stars and massive corporations, who have little interest in developing new talent because more than half of their revenue is music from the 60s and 70s.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” by Coheed & Cambria. That record was immensely impactful to me as a teen, and it’s one of the best mixes of pop appeal and progressive, ambitious songwriting I’ve ever heard.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
I prefer downloads or streaming. It’s more convenient, but most importantly it’s the least damaging for the environment, and reducing my imprint on the planet is an important concern of mine.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
The last gig we played. It was in September, and the venue had only 40 seats due to public health safety guidelines. We played behind a Plexiglas screen and the crowd was seated and masked. It was a surreal atmosphere, but the energy was still incredible! We sold out the show weeks in advance and played our first set with our two newest recruits, Votson on bass and Krøgorlön on saxophone. Being able to play a show during the pandemic really put things in perspective and made it a special night that I’ll cherish forever.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Before the pandemic, one of my jobs was teaching and organizing board games and roleplaying workshops in conventions, private events, or cafés and restaurants. That would probably be the most natural career to pursue full-time instead of music. However, in recent months I’ve started studying online marketing and content production to improve my band’s growth, and I think I’ve discovered a new passion. So, if music doesn’t pan out, I’m probably going to fall back on online marketing, ideally for artistic businesses or board games companies.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
These days, just having my parents and their partners for dinner would be a welcome reprieve from the isolation. In a more bucket-list approach, though, I’d love having a dinner party with Neige (Alcest), Devin Townsend, Mikael Akerfeldt, Jonas Renke (Katatonia) and Emma Ruth Rundle over for one epic dinner party.
What’s next for the band?
2021 is going to be a really busy year for us. We’re unveiling our next album in the form of a season, split into Episodes. Our album is structured like a TV show of some sort, and we’ve also written short stories, poems, interactive storytelling experiences, and podcasts to accompany our music and create a multimedia science-fiction extravaganza. It’s going to be tons of work, but it should also be the year where we establish ourselves and unleash all the new skills we’ve honed during the lockdown.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
For the perfect intro to our music, and a direct contact with us, head over to; www.alphabootismusic.com/freemusic
We take you on a virtual tour of sorts through our early releases, and you get free songs to boot!
You can also stream and buy our latest EP, “Stowaway Ants” over on our Bandcamp.
For direct access to the band, updates and a cool community, check out our Discord server! We hang out there frequently and would love to chat with you!
We’re also on all streaming services, and a follow on your favourite one would be much appreciated.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Epinaos question indeed! I’d say they are both at the same time. It’s like Schrodinger’s cake. 😊
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you for giving us your time. I’m grateful to EMQ for having us over for this interview. Like I said earlier, I really like the human connections that music fosters, so I’d be delighted if you came talk to us, whatever platform suits you. I hope to see you aboard our spaceship!
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