Alpha Male Tea Party, with their effervescent, sprightly buoyant riffs and droll onstage tomfoolery, have always had a reputation as the party animals of the math-rock scene. But what happens when the world stops, and the realities of life and death come into sobering reality? What happens at the end of the night when everyone’s gone home and the party’s ended?
Infinity Stare, the 4th album under the tongue-in-cheek moniker, aptly released on 4th Dec via Big Scary Monsters, is the result of life’s trials and tribulations catching up on Alpha Male Tea Party. The band also release a single from the album today, ‘Bonfire Disaster Movie’.
Since the release of their previous record Health three years previous, plenty has happened in the personal lives of the band, consisting of Tom Peters (guitar), Greg Chapman (drums) and Ben Griffiths (bass), which results in the most introspective collection of songs the three-piece have ever released. As Peters puts it “it’s fun with caveats. It would have been disingenuous for this album to be as openly positive as our previous records, I don’t think we would have been as happy writing that. Not to say that we’ve all become miserable cranks, but I think writing stuff that’s got a bit more emotional depth to it has become a more rewarding thing for us to do now.”
Infinity Stare is an album borne out of loss, grief and acceptance, a realisation that as life goes on, things don’t get simpler, but rather more complicated. Its personal traumas that have had the most impact on the record, particularly the death of Dan Wild-Beesley, guitarist in turbo-prog two-piece Cleft and a close friend of all three members of the band, particularly Peters. “Grief as a feeling is a huge part of what made the record what it is’ he says. ‘Collectively, we all experienced that at the same time, Dan was a huge aspect of our band. Dan was a driving force, he was often the one who would suggest we go off on a tour together, he was the guy who was steering things. He was my best friend and even from beyond the grave, he’s influencing my fucking decision-making.”
With Dan such an integral part of Alpha Male Tea Party’s history, his tragic death cast a shadow over the band’s next steps, which led to a period of turmoil and writer’s block for the band. “In the wake of Dan’s death, we didn’t know how to be creative for ages. We jammed quite a lot and never actually managed to create a coherent song, because I think I was personally filled with quite a lot of doubt about what I was doing as a player, about what we were doing as a band at that point.”
It was actually the Covid-19 global pandemic that forced the band into a period of self-inflective creativity, which saw the scattered ideas and disorganized riffs coalesce into a coherent whole that epitomised the struggles of the past three years. Sometimes brimming with joy, sometimes laced with melancholy, sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, Infinity Stare is the most dynamic, three-dimensional record the band have made to date, encompassing the broadest spectrum of human emotion. “It’s the first album we’ve done where I truly feel like it’s actually translated who I am as a person into a record, which I haven’t really felt like that on albums before. I’ve always felt like there’s been some compromises. Not that I think our more major key moments are just throwaway sentiments, but I don’t think that tonality delivers the complexity of human emotion. If music doesn’t communicate what you’re feeling, then I don’t really know what the point of it is. What’s the point in music if you can’t hear the humanity in it?”
Infinity Stare is released through Big Scary Monsters on 4th December on vinyl (pre-order) and digital. The band have a UK headline tour planned in April plus festival slots at ArcTanGent, Portals and others TBC.