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Alt-J performing April 2013
∆ in 2013. Left to right: Gus Unger-Hamilton, Joe Newman, Gwil Sainsbury, Thom Green.
Background information
Also known as
OriginLeeds, England
GenresIndie rock,[1] alternative rock, art rock, folk rock, jazz rock, experimental rock
Years active2007–present
MembersJoe Newman
Gwil Sainsbury
Thom Green
Gus Unger-Hamilton
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Alt-J performing April 2013
∆ in 2013. Left to right: Gus Unger-Hamilton, Joe Newman, Gwil Sainsbury, Thom Green.
Background information
Also known as
OriginLeeds, England
GenresIndie rock,[1] alternative rock, art rock, folk rock, jazz rock, experimental rock
Years active2007–present
MembersJoe Newman
Gwil Sainsbury
Thom Green
Gus Unger-Hamilton

Alt-J (also known as ) is an English indie rock quartet, formed in 2007 in Leeds, England. Their debut album An Awesome Wave was released in May 2012 in Europe[2] and September 2012 in the United States and won the 2012 British Barclaycard Mercury Prize.


Alt-J was formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) and Thom Green (drums) met at Leeds University in 2007.

Unger-Hamilton (younger brother of Ferdy, head of A&R for Polydor Records) studied English, the other three Art. In their second year of studies, Newman showed Sainsbury a handful of his own songs and, inspired by his guitar-playing dad, the pair began recording in their hall's room with Sainsbury acting as producer on GarageBand.[3] The band's unusual sound stems from the fact that due to living in student halls, noise had to be kept to a minimum and so they were unable to use bass guitars or bass drums.

After graduating, they moved to Cambridge, where they survived on Jobseeker's Allowance; however, they recorded their debut album in Brixton, playing tracks as it fit into the recording studios spare time. The quartet spent two years rehearsing before signing a deal with Infectious Records in December 2011.[4]

The band symbol (∆) can be typed on Apple Mac OS X by the key sequence alt + J. "Alt-J" were formerly known as both 'Daljit Dhaliwal' and 'Films',[5][6] but were later forced to change it to "Alt-J" because an American band called 'The Films' already existed.

Several of their tracks including Something Good and Fitzpleasure have been used for BBC 2's channel idents.

In mid-2013, Nokia used the track Fitzpleasure in their commercial for the Lumia 925 in Europe and Lumia 928 in the US.

Fitzpleasure was also used in the UK trailer for The Way, Way Back.

Music career[edit]

First releases[edit]

Their self-titled first 4-track EP , was recorded with producer Charlie Andrew in London and showcased the tracks "Breezeblocks", "Hand-Made", "Matilda" and "Tessellate". A 7" single containing "Bloodflood" and "Tessellate" was released by Loud and Quiet in October 2011.

Their first 2012 release for Infectious Records was the triangle-shaped 7" "Matilda"/"Fitzpleasure", followed by "Breezeblocks" as an advance of their first album An Awesome Wave, released on 25 May 2012 in the UK, Europe, and Australia. The album was released on 18 September 2012 in North America via Canvasback Music. The group's signature blend of layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock has been compared to artists such as Hot Chip, Wild Beasts and Everything Everything.[citation needed]

An Awesome Wave[edit]

Their debut album, An Awesome Wave, was released on 25 May 2012 by Infectious Music, and drew on multiple musical genres and sensibilities (folk, rock bass, catchy pop, hip-hop beats, trip-hop atmosphere, indie-rock quirkiness, electronic heavy synth riffs). They were wedded to intimately personal, sometimes confessional lyrics, peppered with film and literary references including allusions to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Luc Besson's Léon: The Professional and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.[7] It was completed over three weeks in January 2012, the band adding six or seven songs to the pool of already recorded material.[8]

In February 2013 the band announced they would be composing the soundtrack for Toby Jones' new film Leave To Remain.[9]


Alt-J supported Wild Beasts in April 2012 and started a small concert tour in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The tour kicked off on 24 May 2012 at Dublin Academy and ended on 1 June when the band headlined Bristol Cooler.[10]

The band played a large number of the summer festivals in 2012, including Latitude, Tramlines, Bestival, Reading and Leeds, End Of The Road, Milhões de Festa, T in the Park, Green Man,[11] Pukkelpop,[12] Lowlands,[13] and Into The Great Wide Open.[14]

Alt-J started their own small headline tour in the UK, starting in Manchester on 27 October 2012. The other venues include places in Birmingham, Brighton, London, Oxford and Bristol. The last gig was in London on 19 January 2013.[15]

Alt-J played the main stage of Clockenflap Multimedia Arts & Music Festival in Hong Kong on 2 December 2012, and behind Bob Boilen's desk at National Public Radio (NPR) in a Tiny Desk Concert on 17 December 2012.[16] They performed a small concert tour in the United States in December 2012.[17] They also played at the 2013 Reading and Leeds Festival, Bonnaroo festival, the Optimus Alive! festival in July 2013 and the Australian 2013 Laneway Festival, which visits five cities in Australia and New Zealand, as well as one date in Singapore, in just over a week in late January/February.[18] Six European dates and a full US and UK tour followed. The US tour began on 2 March in Boston and ended on 10 April in San Francisco. Many of Alt-J's shows have been sold out or have had a venue change due to high demand to see them live.[19] Alt-J also had a ten date UK tour that kicked off on 5 May at O2 Academy Birmingham and ended on 17 May at Brixton Academy.[20]

They also played Lollapalooza 2013, Coachella 2013, Sasquatch! 2013, the Other Stage at Glastonbury Festival 2013, and in the Tent Stage at Open'er Festival 2013. In addition, they played at Rock Werchter 2013 in "The Barn" and at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Quebec, in August 2013.

The band produced a song 'Buffalo' for the film Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence.

They also performed as a main stage act at the Rocking The Daises music festival in South Africa in October 2013, opening for The Hives and Skunk Anansie.[21]

On 7 December 2013, Alt-J performed in the annual Live 105 concert, Not So Silent Night, in Oakland, California at Oracle Arena.[22] The next day, Alt-J performed in the annual 91X concert, Wrex the Halls in San Diego, California [23]


In 2012, Alt-J's debut album won the British Mercury Prize.[24] Alt-J were also nominated for three Brit Awards (British Breakthrough Act, British Album of the Year and British Group of the Year).[19] An Awesome Wave was announced as BBC Radio 6 Music Album of the Year 2012. Three of the tracks from this album gained entry into the Australian 2012 Triple J Hottest 100, with 'Something Good' at number 81, 'Tessellate' at number 64, and 'Breezeblocks' coming 3rd overall.[25] In 2013, An Awesome Wave won Album of the year at the Ivor Novello Awards.


Studio albums[edit]

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
BEL (Vl)
BEL (Wa)
An Awesome Wave
  • Released: 25 May 2012 (UK/EA/AU)
  • 18 September 2012 (North America)
  • Label: Infectious Music, Canvasback Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download, vinyl

Extended plays[edit]

TitleAlbum details
(Demo EP)


YearTitlePeak chart positionsCertificationsAlbum
UK Indie
US Alt.
2011"Bloodflood/Tessellate"An Awesome Wave
"Something Good"766
"Matilda" (re-release)8376
"Fitzpleasure" (re-release)27
2013"Dissolve Me"
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Songs in film[edit]

2012"Buffalo" (featuring Mountain Man)Silver Linings Playbook (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2014"Warm Foothills"Leave to Remain

Songs in TV Series[edit]

2012"Fitzpleasure"WeedsSeason 8 Episode 6 - "Allosaurus Crush Castle"
2013"Tessellate"Sons of AnarchySeason 6 Episode 5 - "The Mad King"
2013"Fitzpleasure"SuitsSeason 2 Episode 6 - "All In"
2012"Tessellate"CSI: NYSeason 9 Episode 9 - "Blood Out"
2013"Fitzpleasure"HomelandSeason 3 Episode 5 - "The Yoga Play"
2013"Breezeblocks"History ChannelAdvertisement for Counting Cars - "Breezeblocks"


  1. ^ Monger, James Christopher (2012). "Alt-J". Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Alt-J: a cut above, The Guardian, Sam Wolfson, 30 August 2012
  3. ^ "Alt-J - Concert - Net Events" (in (Dutch)). Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Monger, James Christopher (2012). "Alt-J". Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Alt-J's name explanation". Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Alt-J Announce 'An Awesome Wave' Headline UK Tour Dates & Tickets access date=1 September 2012". 
  7. ^ "Alt-J Interviewed: "The Internet’s Going to be Massive, Trust Us", Sabotage Times, 7 July 2012". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Write On - Alt-J On Their 2012". Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Alt-J to score Toby Jones film". 3 News NZ. 21 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Alt-J announce autumn tour of the UK,, June 26, 2012". 2012-06-26. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Paul Lester. "New band of the day: Alt-J, The Guardian, Paul Lester". Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Pukkelpop, Alt-J in concert, July 7, 2012". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Programma, Lowlands 2012,A campingflight to Lowlands paradise". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Programma ITGWO12 web 
  15. ^ "Alt-J Tour Dates & Concerts". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "Alt-J's NPR Tiny Desk". Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Alt-J Tour Dates & Concerts". Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Triple J. "2013 Laneway line up announced". ABC. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "alt-J Nominated For 3 Brit Awards". Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "Alt-J Search". Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  21. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Mercury prize celebrates 20 years with award for Alt-J's debut album". Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "#3:alt-J - Breezeblocks Hottest 100 - 2012". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  26. ^ a b Peak positions for the albums and singles in the UK:
  27. ^ a b "Alt-J - Australian Charts". Hung Medien. 
  28. ^ "Alt-J - Belgium (Flanders) Charts". Hung Medien. 
  29. ^ "Alt-J - Belgium (Wallonia) Charts". Hung Medien. 
  30. ^ "Alt-J - Danish Charts". Hung Medien. 
  31. ^ a b "Alt-J - French Charts". Hung Medien. 
  32. ^ "Alt-J - Dutch Charts". Hung Medien. 
  33. ^ "Alt-J - Swiss Charts". Hung Medien. 
  34. ^ "Certifications in the UK". BPI. 15 November 2012. 
  35. ^ "ARIA Charts Issue 1229". ARIA. 16 September 2013. 
  36. ^ "Canadian certifications – Alt-J". Music Canada. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  37. ^ Peak positions for Indie singles in the UK:
  38. ^ "Allmusic: Alt-J: Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  39. ^ "ARIA Chart Accreditations > 2013 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 

External links[edit]