Do What Feels Right: Our Q&A With (Sandy) Alex G
We spoke with frontman Alex Giannascoli about his summer plans and performing in the Hudson Valley.
Photos by Tonje Thilesen
In 2013, (Sandy) Alex G broke onto the music scene with his signature melancholic brand of jangly rock. His most recent release, Rocket, dropped in May 2017 to rave reviews from fans. Currently, the Philadelphia native is gearing up for a long summer of shows, including one on May 18 at BSP Kingston, where he will be joined by Trace Mountains and Decent. We spoke to frontman Alex Giannascoli about his summer plans, garbage plates, and making music for the right reasons.
Rocket was more folk influenced than your other albums. What led to that?
To be honest, I didn’t really have any guiding principle or anything when I started out. A couple of the songs ended up that way, but the album is kind of varied. There’s probably like three or four folky type songs and then the rest of them are kind of all over the place as far as genre goes. I don’t know if there’s any real reason other than I was just strumming the guitar and that’s kind of what came out.
That's awesome! You can’t really put a genre on some types of music. I loved Rocket, by the way.
I saw you open for Girlpool a couple years ago. You probably don’t remember this, but someone in the audience kept asking you to play “Change” over and over again.
You know that happens a lot. People call out a lot but it’s so weird playing that one if we’re opening for another band because it’s not a downer but it’s so slow and conclusive. I feel like if we play that, then it feels like we’re trying to close the show or something but the show’s not over.
How do you practice self-care while you’re touring?
I wish I knew [laughs]. I don’t know, I’m getting pretty burned out sometimes, but Sam [Acchione], who is the guitar player in the band, he exercises a lot. He’s been bringing a jump rope on tour, he jump ropes in the morning. He’ll make time to exercise. I should do the same thing. I just have no discipline. One day maybe I can be like him and exercise or something, but just getting enough sleep, that’s really important.
I think sometimes sleep is more important than exercise in the long run.
In terms of music, what are you looking forward to most this summer?
Well, we got a lot of shows this summer, a lot of festivals we’ve never played before, so that’ll be fun. I’m going to work on some recording — that’s something I really enjoy doing too. We’re playing this festival called Primavera again, in Barcelona, and that will be cool because Fever Ray are on the same day we are and the person who makes music as Feva Ray also makes music in this group called The Nice, and they are one of my favorite bands.
Is this your first time playing in the Hudson Valley?
That area’s really nice.
How about Rochester?
Rochester’s great. Have you played the Bug Jar?
Yeah, the Bug Jar is where we always play. It’s great — I don’t know if you remember but the room with the stage had a kitchen nailed to the ceiling. It’s like all of the furniture is upside down.
They must’ve gotten rid of that by the time I got there. Did you get to try a garbage plate while you were in Rochester?
That sounds so familiar…
It’s this weird food thing where they pile hamburger meat, mac and cheese, and potato salad — everything onto one plate.
That sounds amazing [laughs]. That’s like what I cook for myself at home. I don’t know how to cook real recipes. I just make a bunch of stuff and pile it on. That sounds delicious.
You've done a wonderful job with your music and your career. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
I feel like the older I get, the less advice I have as far as music goes. What I used to say is play a ton of shows or make a ton of recordings. That’s what I did and this is what resulted. I recorded all the time, not with a sense of dutifulness, it was just what I truly loved to do. I love to play shows. But plenty of people do the same exact thing and it doesn’t work. There’s so much luck involved. I would just say do what feels right, which for me was to keep making music because it was like an escape thing. Have you ever heard of Donna Tartt?
No, I haven’t.
Well I just started reading some of her books. I was watching an interview with her and she talks about how reading a book was kind of like an escape for her, and then an even greater level of escape was writing the book. I think that’s kind of what happened to me with music. I loved to listen to music so much that making music was almost like enjoying music on a deeper level. I got obsessed with it. If that feels right to you, then absolutely go for it because it’s fun and people should just explore it for the sake of exploring it. There’s no advice I can give you that will get you money or success.