Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's Cooking with Alcoholic Faith Mission?

Sune Sølund and Thorben Seierø Jensen, two members from the Copenhagen band Alcoholic Faith Mission (first mentioned here), started playing together in 2006, while they were living in Brooklyn. Even though the idea for the band was bred in New York, it wasn't until this year that the band actually had the opportunity to perform in the states. Recently I had the opportunity to correspond with the band and discuss their first US shows, as well as find out what is cooking with Alcoholic Faith Mission.

Alcoholic Faith Mission has undergone some unique transformations since 2006. I asked the band to give me a brief history:

Alcoholic Faith Mission is both a band and a music collective from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The project was originally started by Sune Sølund and Thorben Seierø Jensen back in 2006 when the two of them recided in Brooklyn, New York for a while. All though the band started as a acoustic duo Alcoholic Faith Mission quickly developed to a collective where friends from all over the world contributed to the recordings and concerts.

All though the band recently has evolved into a more steady five-piece including Kristine Permild, Gustav Rasmussen and Laurids Smedegaard many people still take part of the project that make Alcoholic Faith Mission today.
Alcoholic Faith Mission recently released their third album, Let This Be the Last Night We Care. In some ways the album is similar to their other two (2006's Misery Loves Company and 2009's 421 Wythe Avenue) but in other ways it is very different. The band talked about their new album and compared it to the other two:
As any other album from us Let This Be the Last Night We Care is developed by experiments banging at random things and shouting whatever came to mind at nighttime.
Our two first album was recorded under a set of fixed dogmas; Misery Loves Company (our first album) was recorded only during nighttime with plenty of booze and candlelights, while 421 Wythe Avenue (our second album) was recorded solely with the use of things available at the loft in Brooklyn where the album was recorded.

These kinds of straitjackets had a great influence on the atmosphere on the two albums, but with Let This Be the Last Night We Care we haven't had the same kind of restrictions. All the songs are recorded with our small recording setup in Thorben's bedroom under the mezzanine, and there is no doubt that even though we haven't committed ourselves to any dogmas we have been working a lot with sounds and using things other than traditional instruments to add layers and effects to the album.

All in all our three albums have been made under completely different premises and they all show a different side of us as a band.
Let This Be the Last Night We Care is definitely a progression that we are very proud and satisfied with, although we still don't know what the musical expression is going to sound like on our next album. We'll see... :)
Let This Be the Last Night We Care features the track "Got Love? Got Shellfish?" This track was remixed by Rasmus from Re:legion marking a first for the band. The first time a song of theirs had been remixed. How had this happened? Were there others on the way?

Rasmus is a very old and good friend of ours who asked if he could remix the track. We're huge fans of Rasmus and his music, so we didn't hesitate to let him do it. As we expected he did an awesome job. And yeah, a couple of other remixes are on the way...
Now, about their first US shows and their first time playing Denmark's Spot Festival:

Coming back to Brooklyn where the adventure begin in 2006 and where Thorben and Sune lived for a half year in 2008 to record our second album 421 Wythe Avenue was our destiny. Touring the US has always been a big dream for everyone in the band, so this first US tour definitely was something we have been looking forward to.
Having the chance to present our music for an American audience was amazing. All we can say is that the 10 days overseas wasn't enough so now we're planning going back soon for a much longer tour.

It was our first time at the Spot Festival and it was a great experience playing at the totally packed venue Ridehuset. All though we played at a small festival in Copenhagen (for at lot bigger audience though) last year we consider our show at Spot as our first real festival gig.

We see pros and cons playing either festivals or clubs. At festivals we get the chance to present our music for a bigger audience and people who might not have chosen to go to a club concert with your band. On the other hand we have experienced that people at smaller venues are more dedicated to the music; at least our kind of music. We definitely want to play more festivals, but we might be strongest at more intimate venues with close contact to the audience.
I ended the music portion of our interview by asking them about Alcoholic Faith Mission's immediate future:
Since we let go of Let This Be the Last Night We Care we have been working on new stuff. Because this spring have been packed with touring it have been on hold for a while. But hopefully we will have time to get back in the studio to work on new material during the summer.

We have a single festival tour during July and some gigs now and then, but besides from that we'll have a couple of months off from touring over the summer. We are very excited to go back and work on new stuff because we have a feeling that the new material is going to be a bit different from our earlier stuff, and it's going to be be interesting and exciting to see where new studio sessions will take us!

Since this is also a food blog I wrapped up our discussion with a question about what Alchoholic Faith Mission are cooking up (in the more conventional use of the word). Turns out, it's a chili chock full of smoke, coffee and beer:

Alcoholic Faith Mission's Smoky Chicken Chili with Stout and Coffee
(printable version)

-fresh jalapeno chili
-smoked chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
-cayenne pepper
-ground cumin
-assorted beans (kidney, white, black - whatever)
-canned tomatoes
-fresh peppers (red and yellow)
-fresh cilantro
-sour cream

Note: There are not any fixed measurements to any of the ingredients - use as much or as little as you like. Remember to use a large pot.

1) Chop the garlic, jalapeno and chipotles finely. Chop the onions in large pieces. Fry all of these ingredients lightly in some oil. Add the cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The different chili flavors create a deeper chili taste. Continue frying until the onions are soft.

2) Add the canned tomatoes, the beans (remember to use pre-boiled beans - they come in cans) and the chopped, fresh peppers and bring the whole thing to a boil.

3) Add a shot or two of espresso and around a cup of stout to the pot and let the chili simmer for a long time - preferably a couple of hours, but 30 minutes will do if you're in a hurry. If you are using boned chicken, then add this about 30 minutes before you serve, if you are using a whole chicken, then cut it into pieces and add them about 1 hour before you serve. The meat will then fall apart by itself.

4) Remember to taste the chili every once in a while - if it needs bite, then add jalapeno and cayenne. If it needs smoky flavor add chipotle (but be careful, because this adds bite as well). You should be able to taste all the different flavors (chili, smoke, cumin, cinnamon) without one of them overpowering the others.

5) When the chili has a creamy, thick texture it's probably ready. If you want to cook it more and it goes dry, just add some more liquid (coffee/stout). Remember to season the chili (taste it!) before you serve it (salt + pepper).

6) Chop the cilantro, and serve the chili in deep plates with cilantro sprinkled on top. Also, add a large spoonful of sour cream.

Here are two additional tracks from Alcoholic Faith Mission, one new, one old (via RCRD LBL):

Alcoholic Faith Mission-Got Love? Got Shellfish?

Alcoholic Faith Mission-Nut in Your Eye