Sierra Alpha is a highly rated five-piece pop/rock outfit from Wales, U.K., that is getting well-earned praise from countless sources. Their debut EP, Superhero, was released in June of this year and was welcomed with strong regional press and radio support, and the title track was featured as the single of the day on Amazon.com. Furthermore, World Machine, another track from the EP, has been featured on a MySpace.com video segment promoting Leonardo DiCaprio’s film, Body of Lies.
Sierra Alpha is comprised of Martin Goddard (Vocals, Guitar), Stuart Davies (Bass), Andrew Harries (Keyboards), Andrew Evans (Lead Guitar) and Simon Beecher (Drums). Their unique gift lies in that both their recordings and live performances are filled with a signature rocking style and catchiness that truly makes them a hit just waiting to happen.
The five track EP, with its combination of brilliant harmonic choruses, superb keyboards and Martin’s wide vocal range, leads to a collection of highly memorable, infectious songs. And, having had the chance to catch them performing live in Bath, U.K., I can also vouch for their stellar shows. On stage Sierra Alpha have a strong, tight delivery that has punch and verve. From the first song, Weekend Lover, Sierra Alpha commanded the attention of the entire venue and from that point on they faultlessly delivered the entire set, even mixing in a cover of La Roux’s Bulletproof.
Once the band got offstage I was lucky enough to catch up with Martin Goddard, who happily agreed to a chat for The Rock and Roll Report.
1. How did you all get together in the first place?
A: I always considered myself a songwriter, before fronting a band. So, whilst I was living in London showcasing songs that I had written, the main feedback I was getting from industry was to get a band behind the songs. When I moved home I had a crazy idea of writing songs for a band, but never pictured myself in it.
I met with Andrew Harries (Keyboards) to show him some ideas I had and he prompted the idea of The Martin Goddard Band. I wasn’t too keen at first, but when we met with Andrew Evans (Guitar) and started to run ideas, I got more involved with the idea of being the vocalist.
Once we had a handful of songs I approached Stuart Davies (Bass), who I used to play in a cover band with. Stuart is a guitarist so I didn’t expect him to jump at the chance to play bass, but I’m glad he did. The great thing about having Stuart in the band is he can sing really well and has a terrific voice. I knew that factor would come in really handy.
I then met Simon Beecher (Drums) through a friend of a friend. Simon was still in the RAF [Royal Air Force] when the band first got together so, we played the waiting game until he was settled at home. It gave the rest of us a good chance to polish off the songs.
2. How did the name come about?
A: When we started rehearsing as a full band I felt a good name would be something we all had in common: our hometown. Sierra Alpha is the phonetics words for our postcode, as in SA.
3. How do you classify your music, and why?
A: I don’t think Sierra Alpha falls into any kind of niche. Every new band thinks they are original, respectfully. I’m a realist, and I genuinely think we’re offering a new type of sound. We’re not part of a scene and we’re not jumping on a trend. We are merely five young twenty-somethings with a passion for song.
We’ve been labeled pop, and we’ve been labeled rock. I think we’re on the line between. We’re all about identifying hooks, beats and melodies that make people want to get excited. We’ve worked hard at providing a good show, we rehearse religiously, and people who come to our shows recognize that factor. Especially fellow musicians. We’re definitely a musician’s musician type of band: swirling melodies and soaring four-part harmony choruses. A feat in itself.
We don’t often get comparisons either, and that’s always a good thing.4. What/who are the main influences in your songwriting?
A: I am always inspired to write. Whether it is a new piece of music that I have just heard, or a day-to-day situation, it has to make me passionate enough to want to write about it. I’ve never sat down at the piano with the intention of writing something there and then. I’ve never gone “Right, let’s write a song today”. It is sometimes a really long process, but more often or not, I’ll think of a good hook or a good lyric and go from there. I’ll work on the chords and melody, I’ll have an idea of how I want the song to sound as a whole, and the band will jam it out until we’re happy with the finished product.
I’m so lucky to be in the position I am, as a writer I have a band capable of anything musically. Literally, anything! I can take the songs wherever I want as there is no bar on the ability of the band performing them. I’m experiencing any writer’s dream and absolutely love it.
As for influences, I am a huge West Coast singer/songwriter fan. To name a few: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby, Rufus Wainwright, Ray Lamontagne and Shawn Colvin are all huge influences in my songwriting.
I love the idea of “The man and the song”. Doesn’t matter how big the production is on a song, it has to be just as good [when] stripped back acoustic. I’m just a huge fan of song. If something has the ability to make you take notice, then it has respect from me.
5. What have been the highs/lows of the band so far?
A: Despite still being a relatively new band we’ve had some amazing things happen for us. All of which are results of hard work and dedication. We never shy away from opportunities [and] we’ve done the sleepless nights traveling the M4 to make work the next day, and believe you me, we’ve got many more to come. But it’s all labor of love to us. Opportunities like playing The O2 make it all worthwhile.
6. What would be your dream gig?
A: We’d love to share the stage with an international, stadium-filling band like U2, Muse, or Coldplay. The most people we’ve played to is around 2,000 and it was a very surreal experience. Playing to an audience, quite literally, 25 times the capacity of that is un-comprehendible. We will one day though.
7. What are your aspirations for the future?
A: With the industry being so fickle at the moment, and the internet contributing to the demise of sales, it’s getting increasingly harder for bands to clinch that “Golden Ticket”. I mean, does the golden ticket even exist anymore? I’ve heard of more bands getting dropped than getting signed. That said, we’re not about chasing the carrot! Too many bands spend their time chasing the carrot, only to discover at the end of the chasing that they’re in a whole field of them. Bands have the ability to do anything a major label can do. The only downfall is the level of investment.
Our future aspirations are still the same as day one. Write, rehearse, record, produce CDs and play shows. The dream is to do it on a national scale, of course. All we need to do is fall on some ears that can make it happen.
8. What new bands would you say are worth watching out for?
A: We’ve played with lots of amazing bands on the circuit. There are a few that stand out. Rubylux, With Love from Humans and Dan Priddy are acts that we’ve shared a stage with and are all incredible live.
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