Melbourne’s Alithia are explorers: a quintet of musicians plucked from different corners of the globe. They know the impact a city rich in culture and history has on an artist’s creative output, which is why they decided to record their second album in Athens.
“We did the first album in Budapest,” says bassist Tibor Gede. “You’re breathing different air, you’re eating different food, and shitting different shit. It had such a massive impact on us because we weren’t in our normal lives and we wanted to go through that again.
“Budapest and Athens are cities with incredible architecture, history, and culture. Being immersed in that is inspirational and it does have a big impact on the mood of an album.”
Alithia spent 18 months writing and three weeks recording the follow-up to their 2014 debut To the Edge of Time. Gede says he’s proud of the new album, which was written as a five-piece and has a greater focus on melody and groove compared to their debut. He’s also incredibly grateful of the band’s fans, whose crowdfunding efforts helped pay for a portion of the album’s recording costs. Nevertheless, studio time is expensive, which meant Alithia stuck to a tight budget while in Athens.
“We had a ridiculously cheap apartment that we found out was in the most dangerous district in the whole country,” says Gede. “It was a district where the police don’t enter. They’d have riot police on the borders and there’d be male prostitutes in the main square offering sex for two Euros. There was one time where someone got stabbed around the corner and we had to call the police. There’s also the “white light” district, which is where all the sex slavery occurs. It’s full on.”
Apart from the “dodgy district” where they stayed, the band’s stint in Athens was an overall positive one. They recorded the album with the assistance of producer Dániel Sándor, who encouraged the band to constantly rework and restructure their new material. Melding elements of prog rock, psychedelia and metal, the band are self-dubbed purveyors of astral spacecore.
“Astral spacecore represents the sense of the unlimited,” says Gede. “It’s about exploring everything you never thought you could explore. It’s about going through all the unlimited possibilities in your mind and not caring about the status quo. We want to create music that expands who we are both creatively and musically.”
Alithia took their astral spacecore around Europe once they were done recording, playing shows in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Russia.
“We finished our studio sessions at 2am. We went straight from the studio to our hotel to get our stuff, and then to the airport to catch a 6am flight to Bulgaria. We didn’t sleep that night, which was how most of the tour was.”
The band are back in Melbourne now. They’re prepped to play Progfest in early December, alongside the likes of Caligula’s Horse, Circles, and Chaos Divine. Gede says they’re excited to share new material with their fans, which they affectionately call ‘street dogs.’
“The street dogs thing started when our percussionist and I got locked out of our hotel while on tour in Bulgaria. It was 7am and we were throwing rocks at the window, Romeo & Juliet style, trying to get back in. There were all these dogs on the street everywhere, and we said, ‘Look at us – we’re just a bunch of street dogs.’ ”
It may seem odd to some, but the street dog tag is one that brings the band and their fans together.
“For us, we like saying it in a way that encourages people not to conform to conventions,” says Gede. “It’s about being the underdog and not worrying about expectations and being comfortable with being you.”
By Jack Pilven