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Alt-J discuss triangles and One Direction

Tuesday 29 Jan 2013 11:45 p.m.

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Alt-J is a British band named after a keyboard command that makes a triangle if performed on a Mac.

Their music has been variously described as "geek rock" and "indie-lectual", but the band, which played at Auckland’s Laneway Festival yesterday, is winning a legion of fans.

They chant like computerised monks and the crowd goes mad. They drawl about geometry and ecstasy ensues - leading some to wonder whether Alt-J's fascination with triangles was something sinister.

“I think we knew it was a powerful thing to play with,” guitarist Gwil Sainsbury says. “Some people think we are some kind of cult - we have a hand sign you can do at shows. I’ve been asked before if we are affiliated with the Illuminati.”

If they were members of the Illuminati - a shadowy organisation supposedly running the world, they hid it well. In fact quite recently they were all on the dole, after meeting at the place where all the great bands from Pink Floyd to the Stones met - art school.

It begs the question why so few great bands meet at actual music school.

“The way art is taught is, [or] it can be taught, is you're taught to question everything and I think it's more a practice of thinking and how you might approach things, but if you did a music course it would be ‘this is how it is and how you structure things’ but we come at it from the art school background of questioning what it is, what makes it music and how far you can bend it,” Sainsbury says.

The band’s debut album An Awesome Wave won the mercury prize - Britains most prestigious critical award - and has seen the band nominated for three Brit awards including best group up against pop sensation One Direction.

But Alt-J are not particularly familiar with their competitor.

“I wouldn't know a single one of their tracks,” Sainsbury says. “We're on tour and don't get to listen to the radio so we're out of it when it comes to pop music.”

He was slightly worried about the reaction One Direction fans could have if Alt-J wins.

“That could be hard.”

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