We talked to Tam Ali of Sheffield doom-shoegaze band Awooga, hot off the release of their EP Alpha and being listed as one of the bands to watch in 2017 by both Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazine.
By Graeme Smith
In certain circles, Awooga are household names, but the rest of us are just getting acquainted with them. I had a chat with band member Tam Ali to discover more.
Though technically a debut, Tam explained that Alpha is really a remastering of a some of Awooga’s older recordings “packaged up as they should be in beautiful vinyl.” Having recently had a listen, I wasn’t surprised by this. The sound Awooga had crafted over five years of gigging was there in the quality of four tracks. Clearly a lot of work had gone into it, not just the music but the art.
“Chris [Pick, the man behind the artwork] is not part of the band but is kinda like our fourth member, like Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam.” When asked about Chris’s process, Tam admitted: “Chris came with us with about four designs which were all awesome and we had difficulty choosing which was the best.”
Awooga hail from Sheffield, a city steeped in rich musical tradition from Human League to Pulp to Arctic Monkeys to Bring Me The Horizon. “It’s got a pop pedigree,” Tam said, and agreed that the national focus on the city’s scene helps Awooga. It’s something that York often lacks.
The question I had to ask was how did it feel to feature on both Kerrang! and Metal Hammer’s list of bands to watch in 2017. “Really good,” Tam said. “We’re blown away with the reaction we’ve had from the EP and it feels like a lot to live up to.” No pressure then? “Not at all,” Tam said with confidence. I asked him to name some of the bands that were on his list to watch. “Gilmore Trail… Ba’al. We’ve played with them a lot. Kurokuma are also doing well for themselves. There’s a strong doom/metal scene right now.”
There was just enough time left reminisce about some European tours. “It’s great playing in Europe because people come out to watch you, but they are very honest with their feedback. On our last tour, some members of the audience didn’t like our electric drum kit and weren’t shying in telling us.” And the craziest tour moment? “What can I say that’s safe for ‘radio’?” Tam mused. “I fell down three flights of stairs once on a boat on the Seine. We’d bought a round of Jägermeister that no-one wanted to drink, so I had them all.”
So, finally, any last words for the fans? “Thank you to everyone. The end of 2016 was immense with thousands of downloads. Keep watching for new stuff on its way.”
Alpha by Awooga is available now on the band’s website.