Interview by Benham Jones
I caught Alberta Cross at one of the smaller stages on my first day at Bonnaroo. Their style recalls a declawed Black Crowes at first, but a closer listen reveals a hot concoction of tambourine soul and a more modern sound. When I met up with them they were in the twilight of a wrapped Bonnaroo, two sets deep and ready to seek refuge from the sun. They were a nice group of wise-asses who were kind enough to give me some time, though I knew that they were aching to escape backstage for Al Green.
Ben Jones: Hello, gents. Welcome to my picnic table.
Terry Wolfers: Hello there.
Petter Erickson Stakee: Thanks for the invite.
BJ: Shall we do this?
Petter: Fire away.
BJ: (booming radio voice) Ben Jones here for Luxury Wafers in Los Angeles
Petter: In L.A.?
BJ: I mean, I’m not in L.A. right now, but you know…
Petter: I gotcha.
BJ: Can you guys give us a quick introduction?
Austin Beede: I’m Austin and I’m the drummer for Alberta Cross. Did you say “Luxury Wafers”?
BJ: Yep, Luxury Wafers.
Austin: With the ridges?
Petter: Yes, I’m Petter and I’m singing in Alberta Crawwwwsss.
Terry: Terry, playing bass for Alberta Cross.
Alec Higgins: Hey I’m Alec, I play keys.
BJ: Isn’t there one more of you guys?
Petter: It seems our guitarist Sean has disappeared. Perhaps in pursuit of drugs or Al Green.
BJ: I can appreciate choosing both of those options over me.
Petter: We would never do that to you.
BJ: So you guys are currently in New York?
Terry: Yeah, we live there now.
BJ: Me too.
Petter: Not Los Angeles now?
BJ: Nope, New York. Right in Queens. Where are you guys?
BJ: A Burgstuy combo.
Petter: I live in quaint Tribecca.
BJ: But, judging from the varied accents, I’m going to guess that you guys are all from New York City?
BJ: How’d you all come together? You strike me as a trans-global mishmosh.
Petter: Well, I was born in Sweden but I moved to London really early; maybe about when I was an early teen. And I met Terrry about four or five years later in the army. We were marines, you know, in the Bruges army.
Terry: Very tough marines.
Petter: And Alec was Terry’s mum.
Petter: No, no…
BJ: I want it, guys; the whole soap opera scoop. Alberta Cross exclusive.
Petter: Alright then. Alec is Terry’s mum from Boston. And he is one of my dads. To tour with your mum is an absolute nightmare.
Terry: She gives me pocket money though.
BJ: So you tour with your mom and you’re ex-marines and you live in Brooklyn, but you’re from Sweden transplanted to London…. That’s extremely complex, guys.
Alec: I was born in Minnesota.
BJ: Born in Minnesota? And then exported and re-imported?
Alec: And then I met them here, after I picked up my accent.
Austin: And I’m from California.
BJ: You’re the only one I believe, Austin… And when did you guys all start playing together? Sounds like Petter and Terry go far back.
Petter: Yeah, we played together for about two years before everyone else came in.
Terry: So I guess about a year for all of us.
Petter: But no looking back.
Austin: Our minds have no capacity for the past.
BJ: Wow, so only a year. That’s impressive and steady progress, boys.
Petter: FULL STEAM AHEAD.
BJ: Were you guys playing in any other bands before this?
Alec: Yeah, I was playing in an Anthrax cover band.
BJ: Oh shit.
Petter: And I was, uh, I was…
Terry: He was doing a lot of Del Shannon covers.
Petter: No, no. It was mostly renditions of Beyonce actually. Did that for about four years.
Terry: You’ve got to see him shake it. He puts on a fake booty, a big fake ass.
Petter: Wait till you see the stage costume. It’s fucking COOL.
Terry: Yeah, goose wings. Fucking goose wings.
Alec: I used to play on a cruise ship but the sea-sickness really got to me.
Petter: (Sean Kearny, the MIA guitarist, walks up to our picnic table) You are fucking missing all of this. We’re having fun…
Sean: I was just backstage for Al Green.
Petter: …oh God. On stage? Can we still do that?
Sean: Yeah, he’s still going. That’s the phat bass you’re hearing in the distance.
BJ: Nice to meet you, brah. I’m Ben.
Sean: I’m Sean. It’s a pleasure.
Petter: But can we get up there with Al Green.
Sean: I think so. We all look like rock stars and have passes.
Petter: Oh, let’s do that.
BJ: Just giving me one more minute, guys…
BJ: You guys have a short record out now, right?
Petter: One record, seven songs. Called The Thief and the Heartbreaker. Little mini-album we put out through Geffen in America and Polydor in England. And this new album, we just finished recording it in Austin and then did the mixing at Electric Lady in New York City
BJ: Where’d you record in Austin?
Petter: Stuck between the city and a meadow. A really cool studio called The Mob House. The new album’s got ten songs, should be out sometime at the beginning of September.
BJ: Did you do most of it live? Fairly analog in the studio? You guys had a great groove when I saw you earlier.
Terry: Yeah, mostly, we cut it to tape. A few overdubs though. With the keys and some guitar parts.
Austin: We did a full AutoTune style on the vocals.
BJ: And you wear costumes in the studio?
Austin: Kind of. We wear capes. Straight up nothing but capes.
BJ: That’s mad baller.
Petter: The capes give the record a disco style, know what I mean?
BJ: Does the record have a name yet?
Petter: We’re calling it BROKEN SIDE OF TIME.
BJ: Jeez, that’s quite an ambitious title. Like a grandiose manifesto.
Terry: We are rather grand.
BJ: Alright, so I guess we can wrap this up… Oh, I wanted to ask, you guys played two shows right?
Petter: Yeah, one last night, one just earlier.
BJ: I saw this afternoon’s set, but missed last night because I was locked out of the gates.
BJ: Long story. (I proceed to tell the whole long story.)
Petter: Sad you missed it. Last night was so exciting, one of the best shows we’ve ever done. About seven or eight thousand people.
BJ: And today was a different vibe?
Petter: Yeah today was great. Kind of a smaller stage, different atmosphere.
BJ: Is this the biggest thing you’ve done in the States?
Terry: There was Cochella.
Petter: But last night we definitely had more people checking out our thing.
BJ: Alright then guys. Thanks a whole big bunch. Are you sticking around for the whole weekend.
Petter: Gotta be heading out tonight.
BJ: Well, enjoy Al Green. I know that I don’t quite have the sexy power of the Reverend.
Terry: You’ve got it going on in a special way.
BJ: Make sure to swing by Chessvolt Studios next time you’re in LA, alright?
Petter: No doubt.
Benham Jones currently lives in New York City with his four year old cat Stella