When trying to find the words to describe ALO, I thought, who better to
introduce you to them than their fans:
"They're the one band that can sing songs about nacho monkeys, celery stalkers, wanting to be a ballerina and the greatness of their own pecs and still come across as the coolest band around."
"They really genuinely care about all their fans, and of course are great at getting us all out on the dance floor."
"An original sound with positive, uplifting, euphoric soundscapes that leave you smiling with perma-grin. Good vibes are always present with ALO! Simply put, their music puts me in a good mood."
R13: You have just got back from Japan. How did it go?
SA: Japan is great. It was our third time there. The first time that we went there we did a small tour with an Australian band, the second time we were back we did it with Jack Johnson and now the third time it was just us. So we've gotten some good exposure and have gotten to meet people there. Our record is out on Universal Records in Japan so we had some of their support. The promotion company is called Smash and they are very supportive. They took us out to dinner every night and tour us around a little bit and also translate. So the tour was actually really easy to do with all the support that we got. It's really exciting being there, it's a really different country.
R13: I was speaking to someone who said that you can tour around the Europe and can get by, but when you get to Japan it hits you because culturally it's so different to anything you have experienced before. It's like another world.
SA: Yeah a lot of the Japanese can speak a little bit of English, but the whole vibe of it is so different. Like all of the signs are in the old kanji characters, in Europe you see the normal characters that you recognise but there it's all these symbols and you don't have a clue. Without the help of our promoter I think we would have been so lost, probably wouldn't have made it to the gigs.
R13: You have all known each other forever. Did you ever think when you were growing up together and when you were playing in high school that you would still be playing together in years to come?
SA: Well we never really stopped playing. I don't know maybe as a kid I would wander every once in a while how long will we be doing this or if we will be doing this as adults. I never really thought about it too much. There is a lot of good things to it, it keeps us together and excited the fact that we know each other so well. We have built on so much. Whenever you meet someone your relationship builds and builds and builds and you get to a certain point where you don't have to say or do certain things and you fall into roles a little. I guess that's the other side, the tricky part, is that we do get stuck in roles and sometimes we are like brothers and fight a little bit.
R13: You don't spend all your time in ALO because you all have your side projects. Do you think that you bring different influences and experiences from the side projects that contribute to ALO's sound and feel?
SA: I think that we get a lot out of our side projects. Playing with different people you get new ideas. In terms of sound, because you're balancing your sound with new people, it's going to balance a different way than it would with your band. So it gives you some perspective on what your sound is, your individual sound and how it blends in with ALO. I think it makes you more aware of what you're doing in a way.
R13: Does it make you appreciate ALO when you are all back together?
SA: Yeah for sure. You get back to ALO and all of a sudden everything is easy. We have created so much that it's really easy to get back into it. It's funny because the first day is always really exciting, the second day sometimes we start bickering and by the third day we have worked it all out again and are good to go.
R13: You're often described as a happy-go-lucky band. If you could create your own genre or pick a genre to be put in what would it be?
SA: People describe our music like that they also throw us into the categories of Jam, Pop, Rock in the States at least. I think that Rock is the easiest way to describe it, because there is a lot that can happen in the Rock genre, there can be a funky side or a blues side or a folk side etc. I think part of ALO's style is to take lots of different styles and to blend it together. That's kinda what we've always done, partly it's because we are excited about all different types of music so we want to challenge ourselves by learning it, playing it and fusing it all together.
R13: You have a very upbeat sound is this a deliberate choice or is it the natural consequence of you all being such outgoing guys?
SA: I think that it mainly comes from growing up in California and just the easy going vibe that California has. People are very open to each other and supportive of each other generally speaking, I think that's part of it just the environment that we grew up in. We have had a privileged life in a certain way; we haven't had to struggle to hard and we have had comfortable family experiences. I think all those things sort of shape you. Being at this point in our lives, you know in our 30's I think now we are experiencing more hardships, like business deals going sour all those things that callous you a little bit as you get older. We try to keep things as real as we can, we also try to relate and connect with all types of people from all areas too so that might be a part of it, I don't know. I would say being from California though is the main factor.
R13: We want to talk about Zach and his dancing – is it to encourage other people to dance, or is it just him getting caught up in the moment? How did it all come about?
SA: I first started hearing people talking about Zach's dancing after that Jack Johnson DVD. I think with Jack he really likes to step out from the piano and dance. With ALO he is a little more engaged because he is doing a lot of the vocals so he will often times be more in his seat but he will definitely jump and move around. He plays the ukulele and dances the ukulele dance.
R13: Do you have any plans to join in the dancing action?
SA: We all kinda move in our own special way. We have never gone as far as to choreograph anything, we have talked about it but it seems a little silly. Dan's been really jumping and leaping around more lately. Dave, it's hard for him to do too much and I might wiggle a little bit.
R13: Do you ever feel like you connect with the audience or they are connecting with you during songs?
SA: Absolutely, a lot of times it's through them singing the songs with us or if we see them dancing you can feel a connection or even if it's just a smile or they are watching and paying attention. We all try to look out and see how we are connecting, and try to connect more if it's not happening.
R13: Animal Liberation Orchestra is you guys encouraging everyone to liberate their inner animal. Does anyone ever liberate their inner animal a little too much at your gigs?
SA: (Laughs) Yeah it happens. It's funny because you ask that of your audience but then some people really take that to heart and they really go for it. I think they think that they are probably doing what we want but sometimes it's a little over the top.
R13: You are all coming from the West Coast music scene which seems to really be growing and developing at the moment – are there any bands that you think we should keep an eye out for?
SA: There is a band that our whole band is in love with called The Mother Hips, they are from San Francisco. They're just a great band, really soulful and genuine.
R13: Other than obviously The Mother Hips, who are you listening to at the moment?
SA: I was thinking about this the other day because somebody asked me that. I started listing off these old bands like Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney; I do in fact listen to those bands a lot. I was trying to think about what new stuff I have been listening to. Anything that Beck puts out I like, he's pretty prolific. I like my Morning Jacket, Wilco, The Flaming Lips and Feist.
R13: Any guilty pleasure in there?
SA: (Laughs) My two guilty pleasures are Katy Tunstell and Lily Allen as far as like English artists go. Lily Allen has cool tracks though; she has sampled old Reggae music and put it together really well. It's so pop, but it's kinda good. I like KT Tunstell's acoustic record that's the one that really turned me on to her.
R13: Final question – Who do you think would win in a fight to the death between Papa Smurf and Spongebob Squarepants? (The original question involved a fight to the death between Papa Smurf and Bagpuss – unfortunately coming from California, Steve had no idea who Bagpuss was!)
SA: Is Spongebob anything like Bagpuss? I would have to say between Spongebob and Papa Smurf it would have to be Papa Smurf. He's feisty ...
R13: But Spongebob is made of sponge!?
SA: That's right so all he's got to do is grab a hold of him and wring him out. I don't know how tall he is in comparison to Spongebob, but he looks like he has got more might. I would maybe even say Papa Smurf over Bagpuss, but I don't know Bagpuss.
When trying to find the words to describe ALO, I thought, who better to