Those who know me know how deep my obsession runs for the Brooklyn, by way of London, based band called Alberta Cross. A band I feel like I’ve been waiting for all my life. They hooked me with their EP, The Thief and The Heartbreaker, in 2007. Left me waiting (what felt like) an eternity for their debut LP, The Broken Side of Time, that released last fall, and even longer for their tour to hit the West Coast.
Thankfully, the wait ends tonight at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill. And I know, just like their debut album, it will be well worth the wait. I had a chance to catch up with lead singer, Petter Ericson Stakee, before the show to talk to him about the album, the tour, and what took him so long.
The OCMD: How’s the tour going so far? I’ve been waiting so long for you to come to California. Is this your first official West Coast tour?
Petter: It’s going great. We just played the Troubador last night in LA and sold out which was great. And yeah, I’ve been waiting a long time to get out here too. I love it out here. We’ve been out this way before for some gigs and a few festivals – like Coachella and the Download Festival. But this is our first official West Coast tour.
The OCMD: You grew up in Sweden and London –both of which have distinct musical influences– yet your sound has such a retro Americana/ blues-rock vibe. How did that come to be?
Petter: I grew up listening to loads of different music. I do think we have a bit of that blues/Americana thing but we also have a lot of English influences in us too. Growing up there, we listened to a lot of bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Verve so there’s definitely a mix of influences for us.
The OCMD: You now live in New York. What inspired the relocation?
Petter: I’m living in Brooklyn now and it’s great – a really inspiring place to live with a lot of energy and amazing bands. We had a hard time the last year or two and when we went to New York for a festival, we met so many amazing bands and were so inspired that we decided to make the move. It’s been good for us but there’s so many places in America we still want to see. We really loved Austin, Chicago and the whole West Coast is really amazing.
The OCMD: I’ve read that Alberta Cross is actually an anagram. Is that true? Can you tell us what it means?
Petter: It is true. But I’m not going to tell you what it means.
The OCMD: Is there a prize if we figure it out?
Petter: [laughs] Sure, as long as it’s not too much money.
The OCMD: If Alberta Cross is an anagram, is the song “ATX” an acronym? What does it stand for?
Petter: Yeah, it stands for Austin, TX. The album was recorded down in Austin. We thought it would be a good idea to get out of New York and the City and record in some place new. And we really loved it there. It’s a beautiful place, full of great people and great music. So we really just wanted to name something after it.
The OCMD: Speaking of Austin, will you be there again this year?
Petter: I think we probably are but we have quite a busy tour schedule so we’ll have to see if we can work it out. I hope we go, definitely. I’d love to go.
The OCMD: Broken Side of Time is one of my favorite albums of 2009, though it seems more dark and brooding than The Thief & The Heartbreaker EP. What was happening for you when you wrote it?
Petter: I think the album got that vibe because of the stuff we were going through at that time. We were in London and in kind of a dark place. We left our label and were feeling lost and broke. Then we moved to New York. It was really exciting but we were still kind of in the same situation for a while. And when we moved here Bush was still the president. So it was a crazy time and that definitely inspired the vibe of the album. We’ll see where the next album takes us.
The OCMD: What are the plans for the next album?
Petter: We’re writing stuff all the time and we’re recording stuff that we might release pretty soon.
The OCMD: Alberta Cross + Hacienda = one kick ass live rock show. Are you excited to tour with them? I saw them support Dan Auerbach last year where they pulled out a cover of The Animals “Inside Looking Out” that literally melted my brain.
Petter: Yes, we’re doing the whole tour with Hacienca. We saw them when they were touring with Dan Auerbach and met them down in Austin. They’re an amazing band and good friends of ours now.
The OCMD: Speaking of covers, I have a real soft spot for them and loved the cover of John Lennon’s “Steel and Glass” you did. Are you planning to play more? Can I make a request for one tonight?
Petter: Ohhhh, we’ll see. That’s kinda soon. We are definitely planning to play some more cover songs, but we don’t have that many right now. We’re working on a couple. Covers are fun. It’s always fun to play other people’s songs. But “Steel and Glass”, yeah, we might play that one.
The OCMD: Okay, I’ll hold you to it!