Algiers | ,,A38 is super special. We still talk about our time there.”
„It is so much easier for those in power to destroy the world than to build a better one.” We asked one of Atlanta’s biggest gospel-punk bands, Algiers, about their latest album, the meaning behind the songs on it, and what to expect at the show on October 12th.
In February 2023, you released your fourth album under the name Shook. In recent years, several global social crises and problems have swept over humanity. How does the Shook title reflect on these? How is the name behind the album and all this related?
Shook is such a wonderfully layered term full of contradictions. It can express feelings of life-altering inspiration or love just as much as it can describe folks who live in fear or front like they’re hard.
Shook encapsulates the album’s focus on the bonds that help us confront and overcome the numerous personal crises we all face in our lives. We all get Shook and our people are the ones who help us get through this. It’s why we have so many collaborators and guests. The industry is so notoriously tough on creators – our mental health and our financial survival – that we felt it important to lean on our friends who are artists to help us get by.
The new album was made during the covid epidemic. This resulted in you being able to work together, in one place, in one studio. What was this process like? What was the extra benefit of being able to do it in a friendly home environment?
I think we enjoyed the process a little too much, ha ha, because it took us a long time to finish it. In all seriousness, it was such a healing moment compared to the experience of There is No Year and the resultant tensions this exacerbated within the group. We learned a ton and feel more confident than ever to ensure our music matches our creative ambition.
How has the album been received so far? What is the feedback?
To be honest, it is always difficult to gauge responses to our music. Most of our albums have been quote-unquote “critically acclaimed” but our material and spiritual lives have not changed much at all since our first album.
We’ve seen Dante Foley play a second drum kit at live shows. How did you come up with the idea of having two drummers at the same time? Will he come to Hungary with you?
Many of our favorite artists have used multiple drummers live: The Bad Seeds, Thee Oh Sees, Black Eyes, Cop Shoot Cop, and so many more. Dante is such an amazing fit for us too – we had to have them help us bring Shook to life.
After a long time, you will be back to Hungary and perform on the Ship’s stage again. How does it feel to be back again? Are you guys excited about it? What can the audience expect this time? Are you prepared with any extra surprises?
Touring outside of the United States is really a fantastic experience. There is another level of care and attention given by promoters and spaces that makes even the smallest bands feel huge. A38 is super special. We still talk about our time there.
Every single Algiers show is different. That said, audiences can expect the same fiery, life-affirming energy they have come to expect from us.
In the song „Out-Of-Style Tragedy”, the track echoes the chanting of Sun Ra’s (who also performed on A38 several years ago) song „Nuclear War” (Nuclear war… they’re talking about…). What is your relationship with this song? Maybe you’re conveying some kind of gesture to Sun Ra? Why does the nuclear war motif appear on Shook?
At its root, Shook is a record that experiments with a multitude of sampling techniques. We manipulated tape, chopped beats with samplers and even rebuilt entire samples from scratch. Ultimately we have always been about wearing our influences on our sleeve. We’re just as much influenced by punk rock as we are by spiritual jazz like Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra. In fact, you can hear a number of nods to this beautiful jazz throughout the album, such as on Green Iris. The record was also recorded in Philly, where Sun Ra lived for a time.
There is a track on the new album called “Irreversible Damage”. What do you mean by that, what are these in our world today?
Irreversible Damage refers to the experience of and response to complex trauma. But like any element of our work it can have multiple – and sometimes contradictory – meanings. It also shares a title and thus could present a strong critique to a vile, dangerous, misleading and shameful book that spouts transgender hate. Moreover, it is so much easier for those in power to destroy the world than to build a better one.