“Sing Loud,” the lead single from Alpha Rev’s upcoming third album Bloom, is competing with the likes of Alabama Shakes and Of Monsters and Men on the Adult Album Alternative rock charts. The Daily Texan sat down with Alpha Rev front man Casey McPherson and talked South By Southwest, Beach House and Dream Theater.
The Daily Texan: Why do you call yourself Alpha Rev?
Casey McPherson: Because it’s hard to find a dot com that hasn’t been taken. Alpha Rev is a Greek/Latin derivative — alpha being one, rev being a great prefix — revolve, revolt, revelation, revive: its the beginning of change.
DT: How would you describe your sound to a new set of ears?
McPherson: With this record there’s some folk influences, bold American country like Tom Petty Jackson Browne kind of stuff. And then there’s the more kind of old Radiohead, Keane, Coldplay vocal stuff. More Beatles kind of thing going. Lot of different styles.
DT: What do you think set you apart from local Austin bands that didn’t go anywhere?
McPherson: Work ethic. It’s just like anything else if you’re going to start your own project, whether you’re an artist or a business owner. You can have an inherited gift or wealthy parents, there’s always varying degrees of what you have to work with, but at the end of the day you have to want to do it and be willing to put in enough work. I didn’t have wealthy parents, but I had a gift for music. It’s taken a lot of hard work, tons of rehearsing, and you’ve got to wear a bunch of hats at once.
DT: How is Bloom different from your previous records?
McPherson: A lot of it was recorded live, so there wasn’t any editing or tuning. A lot of what we did was all together at the same time. Lyrically it’s more mature, musically it’s more diverse. Lots of different styles.
DT: Have you ever heard of a band called Beach House?
McPherson: You know, the week before we finished the record, someone told me Beach House had an album called Bloom. I thought about changing ours to Blume but it just didn’t look right.
DT: Why do you have so many former members?
McPherson: Well, Alpha Rev is more of a collective. The only constant member of the band is me. I write all of the music; sometimes some of the guys will throw in an idea. In terms of band management and updating Twitter, Facebook, ordering CDs, I do a lot of that myself. You gotta do what needs to get done to keep moving forward.
DT: As a band that’s originally from Austin, what’s it like to compete against the influx of foreign bands during SXSW?
McPherson: Well it’s not really a competition, it’s more of an expose. If you go to a conference and walk down the booths, it’s a great place to expose your music to people in the industry. It’s not a place to get a record deal or for all of your dreams to come true, but it’s a great place to showcase your music to people in the industry from all over the world that would never hear you unless you were in their city.
DT: Austin recommendations for out-of-towners?
McPherson: Barton Springs. Salt Lick. The iPic theater at The Domain.
DT: Why do you play music?
McPherson: Ever since I was a child I knew it was what I was supposed to do with my life. I believe music is spiritual in nature, in terms of how it has an effect on our psyche and physical bodies. I do it for my own health and hopefully to contribute to the health of others.
DT: What’s this I hear about Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater)?
McPherson: I play in a side project with him and Steve Morse from Deep Purple. It’s a pop-prog band called Flying Colors. Mike was a fan of Endochine and Alpha Rev and asked me to be the singer for his band. I’ve been having a great time and I’m’ learning a lot. And he’s a motherfucker of a drummer.