I guess ‘Alaska’ is maybe our most recognisable song? It’s certainly one of the first that I thought had a particular sound to it – something that I guess became a TBOTB signature….or at least a recurring theme. I was trying to write heartfelt music that wasn’t cheesily epic or overly bombastic but still had a ‘widescreen’ sound to it. I’m still not sure I’ve achieved that properly. The whole ‘starting quiet and building up to a loud ending’ was utilised on a few songs on the first album too. And the second come to think of it.

If I recall rightly, Alaska was almost a joke when I originally wrote it. The band I was in previous to TBOTB was called Manifesto (featuring the one and only David Rhodes on geetar, me on bass and my other best buddy Ash Young who now lives in Oz on drums). We used to practice in London near Waterloo Station and ended up doing some recording at Alaska Studios under the bridge there (more about this in future posts…). The name just sort of stuck as I used to soundcheck with the intro riff. 

The drone throughout is from my shoddy old Yamaha DJX keyboard I’ve had since I was about 14. I love that thing. It’s got some amazing sounds on it. At early gigs we used to gaffa tape the key down to keep the note going. I also remember playing a show where we forgot to turn off the kick drum sample that plays through the song for the whole gig but didn’t realise. Brilliant.

I played this at very early solo shows using a sampler and loop pedal (badly) and I’m pretty sure I originally intended on writing more words to it but, being the lazy toad I am, it ended up with just the repeated ‘it only happens once, and you won’t believe it when it does’. What that thing is….i’m not sure to be honest. It’s open to interpretation to you, the dear listener. I’m dead chuffed though as I know a few people have had this song at their weddings (including my very own brother) and that makes me extremely proud.

The recorded version is just me and Matt Allen (drums) I think. More on this chap and the other players involved in the next post….

Here’s a live rendition from The Camden Wheelbarrow from 2012:

Published in: on August 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So cool to read these – and the mystery of why it is called Alaska has been answered.
    We indeed used it as my wedding entrance music at our ceremony in May as it had become a very special song for us as a couple. It was beautiful.
    Based on these last two pieces, I’m looking forward to reading all the other stories behind the songs! 🙂

  2. I can’t wait to hear more about Matt Allen…

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