Apocalypse dodgers Alice Through The Windshield Glass managed to avert a crisis just in time to unleash a killer debut album.
Ah, synchronicity. Having avoided, thus far, any interest in the so-called Mayan ‘end of world’ prediction, I find myself filing an interview on the ‘end of days’ deadline: December 21. The cracker is that my subject, Sydney metalheads Alice Through The Windshield Glass (ATTWG), have also just released their debut LP, Brutalis Australis, which is themed heavily on a post-apocalyptic Australia.
“You know what?” laughs guitarist Adrian Sahid, “You’re the first person to make that link. We never even thought about it to be honest – maybe we should have. Maybe we’re the first band to release an apocalyptic metal album in the year of the apocalypse!”
Perhaps ATTWG failed to pick up on the irony because they were dealing with their own near-apocalypse at the time – the departure of lyricist, vocalist and co-founder, Dave Stanton.
“Dave just wasn’t feeling it. As his mates first and his band mates second we totally understood that,” says Sahid.
It’s interesting to note that at the point of Stanton’s departure the new album’s lyrics weren’t yet completed. What state the words were in, or how Stanton’s deviation from music informed his apocalyptic theme, was unknown to the rest of the band. During his hiatus, all the band really knew about their future was that they didn’t know anything. Sahid reveals that the band didn’t know which way to go without Stanton, and since they weren’t having any luck with auditions to replace him, they had begun to seriously consider the prospect of continuing as an instrumental group.
“We were looking toward [US instrumental prog-metal band] Animals As Leaders. We thought, ‘well, Australia hasn’t got anyone like that, maybe that’s something to tap into? Maybe we’ll gig instrumentally?’ We would have been a different band if we’d gone down that path. In the end we thought, ‘let’s just finish the record and see.’”
So, down the rabbit hole they went. Alice Through The Windshield Glass – the name actually a reference to one of the films you might remember The Simpsons’ character Troy McClure from, rather than a play on Lewis Carroll’s original Alice In Wonderland – had a new plan for recording this time after learning from mistakes made on their previous EP, Keep Your Eyes On The Road.
“Eyes On The Road was very much touch and go,” Adrian admits.
“Grant [Eidintas, guitar] is really switched on with the recording aspects, so he took the reins when it came to recording for both [the EP and LP]. But we took the first offer from a producer the first time – this time we shopped around and found the right guy for Brutalis [Anthony Dyer, of Sonic Excess Studios]. I can’t imagine we could have gotten a better guy for the job.”
While the music may have been shaping up well, the issue still remained – were Alice going to be an instrumental band, or not? It was about eight months after Stanton’s resignation that the former singer visited his ex-bandmates. He’d done guest vocals for another band one night and had experienced an epiphany.
“That was the reawakening [for Stanton],” explains Sahid, “He said, ‘Look, I’ve been missing something in my life,’ and lo and behold, it was music.”
The break benefited Stanton, both psychologically and physically, and the other members of Alice were stoked – not least because Brutalis Australis could now be realised properly.
“I would even go so far as to say his voice improved. We’re obviously happy with that,” laughs Sahid, “It has honestly been the very best outcome possible.”
Pre-hiatus, the 2012 plan had been to release their debut, hit the touring circuit and make some inroads overseas. Stanton’s return meant they were able to knock off part one of the plan as scheduled – Brutalis Australis saw the light of day literally weeks before deadline.
But given the upheaval, personnel-wise, their tour calendar was forced to remain empty. Instead, Alice are refocusing on their live dynamic and sending out lines to build their support team and profile.
“We’re playing already, but there’s been no real tour as of yet… We’re looking for promoters and keeping our eyes out for international supports that we might suit,” says Sahid.
The list of support slots Alice has built so far is nothing to sniff at – All Shall Perish, Impending Doom, Carnifex, Darkest Hour, Sybreed, Shady Glimpse, and Psycroptic are just a few.
And it’s from those more developed artists that Alice Through The Windshield Glass gained some advice that proved to put them in good stead during the band’s period of uncertainty.
“The main thing I’ve learnt from international acts is to be gracious and keep the persona up. You’re here to look after a crowd – the best thing you can do is keep your chin up no matter what the circumstances.”