Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter David Alpha, who discusses the inspiration and goals for his new EP and upcoming album “Rockin’ Roulette.”
Review Fix: What makes this EP special to you?
David Alpha: It’s from a retrospective album that pulls together what has essentially been three separate music careers, so it reminds me not only of where I’ve been, but why. It’s about the music, not about me.
Review Fix: Why does Punk still matter?
Alpha: To be honest, I’ve never liked the term, and I’m not sure it applies to what I do in the bigger picture. On the other hand, I know it has come to be a defining term for a genre, or maybe more precisely, a sub-genre. Plus, I don’t know what else we would call it at this point, and my work certainly is largely rooted in that sub-genre. Whether it’s “punk” or just “alternative,” it is a defining quality of what I do. That said, I think “punk” comes from a visceral core expression of power, clarity and honesty that other styles don’t. It also openly begs opposition to the status quo, and there will always be a lot of people who identify with that.
Review Fix: What does it mean to be Punk?
Alpha: I hope it means a lot more than mohawks, big tattoos and multiple piercings, but a lot of people seem to think that’s what it is. To me, it means devotion to reality, originality, and intensity, and stirring music in my gut until it’s worthy of going to war with bad culture.
Review Fix: How was Sacrilege written?
Alpha: The chorus started it all off. I don’t mean to be graphic, but it came to me while I was relieving myself near my backyard fire pit late one night near the end of a very good little gathering. That first line that came to me, “piss in the yard and be gone,” appears in the album version, which is the original version. It became “spit in the yard and be gone” after some broadcast types wanted to play the song but wouldn’t with such a horribly naughty-naughty word in it. The FCC might send them to bed without desert or something.
About the time I got the song’s first inklings, I was hitting up East Bay Ray’s manager for me to do a couple tracks with Ray. After a bit of contractual back-and-forth, they agreed. Ray and I discussed the project over the phone and I flew to California. He met me at my motel room in Berkeley and we hammered out the rest. He put together a great little ensemble. We rehearsed at the drummer’s regular band’s practice garage in San Francisco the next night, and we banged out the song together at a little basement studio in Oakland a couple days later.
Review Fix: What was it like to write with East Bay Ray?
Alpha: Challenging, fun, and spontaneous. Music the way it should be made: organized, but at the same time, largely off the cuff. There was another song we worked on first, then had the sense to abort. It was okay and might have materialized with a little more effort, but it just wasn’t catching fire. Then I played him the chorus for Sacrilege, the only part I had at that point. We agreed to dump the other one and move forward with Sacrilege. Once we got into a groove and I turned on my digital recorder, we really got down to business and caught a good, strong spark of mutual creative energy.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2019?
Alpha: A band, two new albums, returning to performing, and some kind of permanent major validation for the music like landing a couple of tracks in a good off-beat motion picture or TV show. I could see Sacrilege playing from a jukebox in an all-night diner while some poor heartbroken slob tries to choke down a chopped sirloin and a double-tall Jack on the rocks. All while a demented killer with a midnight snack in mind waits outside, of course.
Review Fix: How does this EP help you accomplish these goals?
Alpha: Exposure. As there begins to be more press about it, more people begin to hear the songs. So far, the response from new listeners has been quite positive, even enthusiastic. One of them recently messaged me that listening to Sacrilege sends goosebumps up and down her spine. To me, that’s the ultimate compliment for a piece of music.
Review Fix: How does the EP tease the release of Rockin’ Roulette?
Alpha: It offers a quick blast of what’s inside. Even though some of it is very different, the feel is a common thread throughout.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Alpha: The very next thing will be Chameleon Wheelhouse, which is part two of the retrospective. At the same time, I’m working on demos for an all-new album, Skinlandia. The former should be out in March, the latter sometime this summer.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Alpha: Go Rams. Wait a second, my publicist lives in Boston, so maybe I shouldn’t say that.