My name is Guy Pewsey, and I’m an Alphaholic. I can’t deny it anymore; perky Danish pop combos are my idea of musical nectar; toe-tappingly catchy tunes, a pinch of ’80s nostalgia and a dash of ’90s cheese, smothered in a colourful American Apparel wrapper. It’s all just so impossibly inoffensive, if a little uncool, but with
Alphabeat’s massive success in the U.K. with stellar pop songs like ‘Fascination’ and ‘10,000 Nights’ and a nationwide tour which just stopped off at Oxford, I’m clearly not the only one. Arriving to meet the band during a sound-check, I am greeted by a group who are practically vibrating with energy and smiling almost literally from ear to ear. To be honest, it’s a little disconcerting and, certain that their egos will be revealed, I brace myself for a rough ride.
Alphabeat, however, are instantly pleasant as I ask them why they think that they’ve managed to break through the bubblegum pop stigma to success all across Europe, particularly in Britain. ‘With our music, there are people who get into it instantly, and obviously there are some people who hate it from the beginning’ says Anders, the bassist, (three members of the band are called Anders), ‘we’re used to that. Either you like it or you don’t.’
Musical Marmite they may be, perhaps understandable considering that they are probably the cheesiest thing to hit the charts in a while, but there’s no denying the sheer energy of their songs, inspired by early Madonna, even Abba. ‘We like old-school pop artists. Now we’re more into contemporary music but we take the best bits from the old stuff.’ It has been a long time before ‘old school’ has been said in my presence without being ironic, but if anyone can get away with it, it’s the colourful Danes sitting across from me.
After turning down an offer to support the Spice Girls on their ill-fated reunion world tour, (‘It was the easiest decision in the world’ says Anders, the bassist, ‘nobody was really disagreeing with us, it wasn’t the right time for us.’) the band are looking forward to continuing their own tour and working towards their next album. ‘We’ll go in a new direction, but we’re very much into contemporary American music’, Anders says, before being interrupted by Anders (God help me) ‘We don’t want to run away from being a pop band though.’
After playing to Oxford’s sold out Carling Academy, the band have clearly been enjoying their time in Britain, and are relieved that their time spent living in London ‘trying to convince people that we were good’ ended up paying off; ‘We knew we were walking a very fine line between what is cheesy and Eurovisionish and what is just good pop music. But a lot of people have taken it more seriously than we thought.’
Following on from the Eurovision comment, I suggest that they might represent Denmark in next year’s contest, and while they recall the glory days of the European institution, they insist that today’s offerings are too political, even racist, for them to ever give it a go.
Impossibly perky, with effortless charm and a sextet of great cheekbones, it’s difficult to imagine Alphabeat engaging in the usual lifestyle of a musician (singer Stine, a tiny blonde pop queen, quotes her personal motto as ‘keep dancing for a better tomorrow’). Anders (Stine’s fellow singer) insists, though, that they’re not as boring as I assumed, informing me almost proudly that ‘we were supporting a band and we got into a fist fight with them. It was a drunken night, and we didn’t really like them.’ He looks guilty for a moment, then adds, ‘They started it.’ Rock and roll guys, rock and roll.
I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed in Alphabeat’s behaviour. Half scared that the most innocent band in music would actually be amoral crack-heads, half hoping for an exclusive look into the evils of Danish pop, a pit of sex and filth. Either way, I have clearly failed to kick the habit. And in case you were wondering, my favourite member of the band is Anders.