IMAGE COURTESY OF BRANTLEY GUTIERREZ .
It's been a while, but Alberta Cross' lead singer and guitarist, Petter Ericson Stakee, is sure that the band's latest record, Songs of Patience, is their strongest one yet. The New York-based band (by way of England) was formed by Stakee and bassist Terry Wolfers back in 2005. Songs of Patience is the band's first album in three years, and the long pause between releases has allowed the band to take back control of their songwriting. Alberta Cross' country-influenced folk-rock music, produced by Stakee and Wolfers, is brought out in a stunning light on this latest release. It's gritty, Southern-influenced rock at its finest; a little rougher around the edges than Alberta Cross' previous work.
We spoke with Petter Ericson Stakee before the Fourth of July on growing up in a musical family, seeing Alice Cooper, and taking back control over the band's music.
ILANA KAPLAN: I heard you and Marc McAndrews spent Thanksgiving together. He had told me you guys had quite the holiday. I thought that was really cool. How do you guys know each other?
PETTER ERICSON STAKEE: We've got friends in common. He's going out with Julia Haltigan, a friend of a friend.
KAPLAN: He told me he had Thanksgiving with you, and I was like, "Whoa, that's awesome."
STAKEE: I think it was a late-night jam up on Bowery.
KAPLAN: From what I heard, it sounded like a Thanksgiving to remember. Moving on from that and onto the music, how did Alberta Cross form?
STAKEE: It was started in London like seven years ago or something. We used to go to this old bar in East London that was owned by this music studio. Our mutual friends were running the place, so we all used to go there to get free booze. We used to go for a while. We just got bored of drinking and not doing anything good, so we started a band.
KAPLAN: What has been the inspiration behind your songs and songwriting?
STAKEE: Fucking everything. Whatever has got soul and heart. It can be any kind of music really. It's a mix of new and old: any kind of genre.
KAPLAN: Will you be touring immediately this summer to support Songs of Patience?
STAKEE: We're touring America for July. Then we're taking a week off. Then we're hitting Europe. We have a bunch of sets in Europe. Then we're heading over to Catalan. We're going to play the Bowery Ballroom in New York and some other shows. We're excited to tour this record. We've been out for a year or two. We'd like to tour a lot. We like to be on the road.
KAPLAN: You guys are definitely world travelers. How did you get into being a musician?
STAKEE: I was born into it. Both my dad and my older brother were musicians. Normally if you have that much music around you, you might not turn to music, but I did. My dad was into more of the rootsy stuff: bluesy, folky, rock stuff. My brother was into more synthesizer stuff like Depeche Mode, and darker stuff like Nick Cave, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, and The Smashing Pumpkins. I was inspired by a lot of stuff at an early age. It was everything I wanted to do really.
KAPLAN: Have you collaborated with your dad or your brother?
STAKEE: My brother used to play in our band a little bit. We inspire each other a lot. I'm sure we'll play something and we'll do something. It's a little difficult because I live in New York, my brother lives in Berlin, and my dad lives outside of Stockholm. We're pretty far away from each other, so it's kind of hard to team up and do stuff really. I'm sure stuff will happen in the future.
KAPLAN: Since you've been touring so much, you must have some exciting plans for the Fourth of July. What are you guys up to?
STAKEE: We have some really, really random plans. We played Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI. We played there last night. Tomorrow, we're playing Chicago. So, we're planning to stay in Milwaukee for another night. There's a random Alice Cooper gig in some sports arena or something. We thought that would be hilarious. We might get coffee drinks and go watch some Alice Cooper, which would be fucking awesome. I love random shit. July Fourth sounds like a perfect match for it: just fireworks and crazy rock music.
KAPLAN: What does Songs of Patience bring to the table that your other albums don't?
STAKEE: I feel like this record is more melodic. I think you always have to feel this way, but I definitely feel like it's our strongest work. I think we took our time to craft the songs and get the melodies and lyrics set. I think they are the best songs we've written. I think the band sounds really good. It took a little while to get it to where we wanted, but I feel like we've got it there now. It's more colorful and a little less dark than our last record. It's a little warmer, maybe. I'm hoping to make a lot of new fans from it, too.
KAPLAN: I think it will definitely open a lot of people's eyes to your music, for sure. What kind of collaborations could you see yourself doing in the future?
STAKEE: There are a lot of good bands. I like the new, younger bands like Black Lips and Deer Tick. It would be cool to do something different musically. Our friends are in some great bands. I want to collaborate with a lot of people I love: a lot of good friends of mine that are doing good. I don't want to say any names, but collaborating with newer, young bands would be cool.
KAPLAN: To me, you guys are still kind of fresh in the US, even though you've been around for seven years. How have you guys made yourselves known in the US?
STAKEE: I feel like America is a massive place. We moved here, and we've been here for five years, in Brooklyn. Living here, and playing here a lot, is the way to get your music out here—and just thinking creatively about different things. I think we've been touring a lot; It's been a while since our last record. It was a little bit out of our control; that's why it took a while since our last record. We're planning on putting a new record out soon, next summer. People get to know you through the gigs; hopefully we'll grow and a lot of people will know about us soon.
ALBERTA CROSS' NEW ALBUM, SONGS OF PATIENCE, IS OUT TOMORROW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.