Over the course of nearly eight years and four independently-released albums â€“ the latest being this yearâ€™s â€˜Alps Of New South Wailsâ€™ â€“ Alps (aka Chris Hearn) has delighted discerning music lovers as much as heâ€™s challenged those hacks wanting to pigeonhole his sound. A member of several punk bands in a previous life, Hearn is now happy to largely eschew genres in favour of experimentation and collaboration.
â€œI don't really fit into a genre in the sense that every song sounds pretty much the same,â€ he explains. â€œI mostly listen to Australian and New Zealand music, I have a lot of respect for the folks making synth, noise, punk, and I guess indie music around here... I feel like geography is important in music.â€
â€œThere are pop undertones throughout all the songs...I like to take pop music and pull it all down to the core elements, see what you can take away from pop music and have it still remain pop music - and then build it back up with bits and pieces from all different genres, sounds, and contexts.
â€œThe new record takes this process the furthest.. .every track goes to a completely different place.â€
A keen journeyman with an impressive touring record, Hearn just finished a mammoth US tour which saw him play a gruelling 25 shows in about 30 days. Now home again, he is firmly focused on his appearance at GOMAâ€™s Surrealism Up Late event where, he promises, fans can look forward to immersing themselves in an â€˜anything goesâ€™ style.
â€œThe set is completely different every night, so in a way it's always evolving,â€ he says. â€œThere's always a big improvisational element, there's never any setlists, I take different instruments out often, and since I made the â€˜Wailsâ€™ album, which is a lot more fleshed out with live drums and lots of guitars... I've been taking different people out on tour too.â€
â€œThis show is going to be the first live show with the newest incarnation of the Alps band, which is myself on guitar/keys/vox, Mark Whittaker from Hopes on bass and Robert Nedeljkovic from Bare Grills on drums.â€
â€œAlps shows are always on the edge. I like to keep it that way, and I think people are getting used to that.â€
Alps plays GOMAâ€™s Surrealism Up Late this Friday 5 August.