alt-J are an English indie rock band formed in 2007 in Leeds, by Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Thom Green (drums) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals).
Let’s find out some fun facts about them!
1. alt-J (∆) was formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) and Thom Green (drums) met at Leeds University in 2007.
2. Unger-Hamilton (younger brother of Ferdy, head of A&R for Polydor Records) studied English, the other three Fine Art. According to Newman “I basically went to art school to start a band.”
3. In their second year of studies, Newman showed Sainsbury a handful of his own songs and, inspired by his guitar-playing dad, the pair began recording on GarageBand in their hall rooms with Sainsbury acting as producer.
4. The band’s unusual sound stems from the fact that due to living in student halls, where noise had to be kept to a minimum, they were unable to use bass guitars or bass drums.
5. Thom Green suffers from Alport syndrome, a rare genetic disease which causes hearing and kidney failure. As a result, he is about 80 percent deaf.
6. After graduating, the band moved to Cambridge where they spent a number of months working on their music before signing a deal with Infectious Music in December 2011.
7. Their self-titled 4-track demo EP, ∆, was recorded with producer Charlie Andrew in London and featured the tracks “Breezeblocks”, “Hand-Made”, “Matilda”, and “Tessellate”.
8. A 7″ single containing “Bloodflood” and “Tessellate” was released by Loud and Quiet in October 2011. Their first 2012 release for Infectious Music was the triangle-shaped 10″ “Matilda”/”Fitzpleasure”.
9. It was followed by “Breezeblocks” which preceded their first album.
10. An Awesome Wave was also produced by Charlie Andrew and compiled at Iguana Studios, Brixton, where the band recorded tracks during the studio’s spare time.
11. Their debut album was released on 28 May 2012 in the UK, Europe, and Australia, and on 18 September 2012 in North America via Canvasback Music.
12. The album received largely favourable reviews and was described as a “captivating blend of insatiable grooves and profound poignancy”.
13. alt-J supported Wild Beasts in April 2012 and played a minor headlining tour around the United Kingdom and Ireland in October of that year.
14. The band have featured regularly on summer festivals, including Latitude, Bestival, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, Green Man, Pukkelpop, and Lowlands.
15. They also did concert tour in the United States in December 2012 and performed at the Laneway Festival tour in Australia.
16. In November 2012 the band were announced as the winners of the Mercury Prize for their album.
17. Besides the prize-money, the band saw an increase in their profile resulting in An Awesome Wave reaching 13 in the UK album chart.
18. The band would later describe the event as “life-changing, there was a sense of [being] imposters, that the band had somehow got this far without not being a real band, we’re just guys from Leeds who muddled through it and magicked a Mercury award”.
19. Gwil Sainsbury left alt-J as of 13 January 2014.
30. It was announced on Twitter that he had decided to leave, but the band would continue, stating that they were to still be best friends with Gwil.
31. In early June 2014, alt-J announced a 2014 tour to take place in North America over October and November.
32. The 23-day tour started in Vancouver, B.C. on 14 October and ended in Washington, D.C. on 19 November.
33. On 9 June 2014, they announced their second album This Is All Yours, that was released on 22 September 2014. This Is All Yours went straight to Number 1 on the UK’s Official Albums Chart.
34. Alt-J headlined the September 2015 edition of Boston Calling Music Festival.
35. On March 3, 2017, Alt-J began teasing their third studio album on their social media accounts with an audio clip captioned “00110011 01110111 01110111”, which translates to “3ww”.
36. Stereogum reported later that day that the album will be titled Relaxer and will be released on June 9, 2017.
37. The band’s symbol is the delta sign, Δ, which is traditionally used in scientific study to indicate “change” or “difference”.
38. The ∆ symbol can be typed on an Apple Mac with the key sequence Alt+J (on certain keyboard layouts).
39. The cover art of their debut album An Awesome Wave shows an overhead view of the largest delta in the world, the Ganges. “alt-J” were previously known as “Daljit Dhaliwal” and then “Films”, but were later forced to change to “Alt-J” because an American band called “The Films” already existed.