Thursday, December 6, 2018
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Fueled by new album “Myself on Fire,” Youngstown rockers Alteras will embark on a two-week tour that will hit 11 cities in nine states.
The tour begins tonight in Pittsburgh, followed by a hometown show at West Side Bowl on Friday.
Most of the seven songs on the new release will be on the set list, but those in attendance might also become guinea pigs for the next album. That’s because for Alteras, live performance is a necessary part of crafting a song into its finished product.
It’s a process that explains why “Myself on Fire” packs such a punch.
The hard-rocking band discussed its methods, the tour, and all things Alteras in a recent interview.
“We tried something different this time by throwing these songs into the set list [before recording them],” said guitarist Michael Dulay. “We tried them out live while they were still in the demo stage, and it helped. It showed us what worked.”
Such an approach has an added benefit.
What: Alteras, with Fever War and Titans in Time
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: West Side Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown
“Doing it this way made ‘Myself on Fire’ my favorite music to perform live,” said Zack Orr, bassist and vocalist. “We focused on the performance aspect.”
That’s the goal, noted lead singer Jacob Clasen. “We like to be better live than on record.”
The word “dynamic” comes up a lot when Alteras talks about crafting its songs.
“For an emotion-driven genre, it’s important,” said Clasen. The dynamic, he explained, is the rise and fall, the changing of pace and style, that helps convey the story through music.
“We like to stretch the platform,” said Clasen. “We think about the dynamic, and volume and purpose. If there is silence, it is a purposeful silence.”
Writing and recording “Myself on Fire” was a collective effort.
“It was our first experience of writing in which all of us were extremely involved,” said Clasen. “There were a lot of different vibes going at the same time, and we weren’t worried about anything other than getting the ideas out and then crafting them. There was never a polished idea. It was a mess and then we would clean it up.”
The resulting songs reflect each band member.
“The beauty of it is the way it was so chaotic and all over the board, and then all of our ideas meshed together into the songs,” said Orr. “The songs don’t mean the same thing to all of us, but something different to each member.”
Alteras has been together in one form or another for about nine years, and has developed a musical rapport that only comes with time.
As an example, take the song “Another Breath” from the new album. Dulay and Clasen wrote essentially the same tune on their own, and only discovered they had done so when they both started playing it at the same time at a practice session.
“Myself on Fire” follows the band’s first full-length release, 2016’s “Grief.”
The next release is already in the pipeline, and a few of the new songs will likely see the light of day on the upcoming tour and then be recorded next year. “We will likely put out some singles in the next few months,” said Clasen.
The band has hit its stride, and – in terms of its sound – will stay the course on its next album, but with more attention to detail.
“I expect there to be a lot more of what we see in ‘Myself on Fire’,” said Clasen. “It was defining for us. it was the moment when we hit that right process between us and the right sound. But expect it to be more precise and honed in on the emotion, the dynamics. On my end, there will be more thought put into the vocals, different styles.”
The current lineup also includes drummer Hobie Butcher, who joined this summer, after “Myself on Fire” was recorded.
His addition will add a new ingredient to the sonic mix going forward. “I’m excited to throw in what I can without taking away from the classic Alteras sound,” said Butcher, who is well-versed in jazz and progressive rock.