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A Dirty Dozen with SIMON THOMPSON and PAUL THOMPSON from ALVAREZ KINGS – July 2020


According to a recent press release: “UK alternative pop 4-piece Alvarez Kings has just released a new single titled “Words I Couldn’t Say” which is now streaming everywhere. Four lads from South Yorkshire, UK who gleefully share their moniker with an infamous old school South American gang, Alvarez Kings summon pop power through timeless analog synth and guitar magic. The quartet—brothers Simon [vocals, guitar] and Paul Thompson [bass, keys, backup vocals], Aidan Thompson [guitar, keys, production], and Richard Walker [drums, samples, pads]—has quietly built up an international buzz since their 2012 formation.” We get Simon and Paul to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Paul: Production is a big thing with our music these days. There are a lot of subtle sound effects and easter eggs in the song that you will only pick up by listening to on headphones. Certain sounds that have become a bit of a calling card for the band over time.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Simon: I remember our neighbor had a gig in a school hall which me and Paul attended. It was our first taste of live music. It was during the height of nu-metal. They were doing Deftones and Korn covers and people were losing their minds. I thought to myself that looks like a fun job and I can also be the centre of attention which I always tried to be anyway.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Paul: I think we can all agree that the band and album that made us realize this is what we want to do as a career was when The Strokes came on the scene and released Is This It. We were young and impressionable and they just seemed so refreshing at the time. Before that, all we really had for guitar music were poor acoustic rock bands and the aftermath of Oasis. We loved their style and back-to-basics indie music.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Simon: BRMC, The Beatles, The Strokes, Bonobo, and LCD Soundsystem.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Paul: Probably a bit of a wildcard but someone like Deadmau5 would be really interesting to have in the studio with us. I’ve listened to some of his online tutorials and his knowledge in electronic music is high. It would be a great lesson for us especially with our last few releases having a strong electronic element to them.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Simon: The easy label would be to call us indie pop. I think some people use the word pop in a derogatory term but it is not to us. We started out as your typical indie rock 4-piece but found after a while that it just was not challenging us anymore. We started learning more about production and different instrumentation most notably being synth.

Paul: I don’t think we’ve really disagreed with anything as long as the journalist has formed an opinion. Everyone is entitled to one. What I do cringe at is lazy journalism, not checking facts and copy and paste jobs. We live in the West where freedom of speech is paramount. Use it!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Paul: You’ll find me at the bar more often than not making sure everyone is well lubricated or I’ll be the first to ask the promoter for more beer if we’ve run out in the green room. I like to cook as well, especially in the summer on those rare sunny days in the UK where I like to fire up the BBQ. Simon always has an acoustic guitar within arm’s reach playing Beatles songs or just working on new ideas.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Paul: We were playing Isle Of Wight Festival and the headliner was Paul McCartney. We were backstage and he was literally standing with his entourage about 10 metres from where I was standing. I never really get starstruck. We’re all made of the same stuff after all. But it was Paul McCartney man!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Simon: The best part is the adrenaline rush before, during and after performing live in front of fans. There’s no greater high. I honestly don’t know what else I’d rather be doing. Probably self- medicating, trying to recreate that high of being onstage.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Paul: What’s your favourite beer and would like us to get you a case of it?

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Simon: Our first record deal was with a major record label. The one thing we regret is not putting our foot down more. Sticking to what we wanted. Voicing our opinions more strongly. We put too much blind faith in the opinions of others and not in what brought us to the dance in the first place.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Paul: It’s not one specific album but rather a genre. I would love to have been apart of Charlie Parker’s and Dizzy Gillespie’s recording sessions in the mid-1940’s. I find it fascinating how they took Jazz music out of the mainstream swing era and created a sub-genre that featured the greatest technical players in the world playing innovative chord progressions and syncopated rhythms. It must have been an exciting time playing Bebop in New York City at the time.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Simon: It is an obvious answer but we miss the connection and social interaction with people. I miss going out on tour and meeting the fans. I miss those long recording sessions in the studio, going to the pub with friends, parties at friend houses, dining in my favourite restaurant. The world is a different place now and hopefully people can take time to reflect and see how they can become better versions of themselves on the other side of all this.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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