Post-Punk Band Algiers Stands Solid on Community and Collaboration
You know what really sucks? When you see a band you love hit the road and then a few dates in, they post a message saying their tour bus got broken into and all their equipment robbed. All those years of work, all that collecting and curating of a setup and then it’s all gone. That’s what happened to Atlanta rock band Algiers in Italy this summer. “Man, there better be some ill records coming out of Milan in the next few years,” grimaces co-founder Ryan Mahan, when asked about the primo equipment swiped from their van. “They got some good stuff, my drum machine, some dope outboard gear, amps, mics. It’s a cold world at the end of the day, so we just leaned on our community who helped us recover the funds for the gear. We just try to embed solidarity and our friends and fans came up huge. We love them so much.”
The outspoken four-piece is made up of Mahan (bassist/keys), Franklin James Fisher (lead vocals) and Lee Tesche (guitar), who all hail from Atlanta, Georgia. They were signed to Matador Records while living in London, where they were joined by UK’s Matt Tong (drums), formerly of Bloc Party. Known for their deep political stances and advocacy of people who fight for their beliefs, Algiers’ music and visuals are awash with rage against all that’s unfair in today’s world. Are the worsening global situations around all of us any kind of inspiration? “For every generation the world is always the worst,” replies Mahan. “The biggest inspiration for us is those who fight through it with all their courage and strength. So it comes from a place of deep love and feeling…see where it goes.“ It’s no wonder they found kindred spirits in UK’s Massive Attack, collaborating on the Bristol band’s 2020 EP, Eutopia. The first taste of their fourth record is the anticipated lead single, “Bite Back”. The imminent 2023 album has an all-star cast of collaborators but, tantalizingly, Mahan won’t reveal who they are. The whole project is being kept tightly under wraps. What he does say, only whets the appetite.
This record is the most hip-hop indebted/adjacent record we have made. Since day one, there’s a deep shared affinity for rap production and musique concrète techniques, fucking with samples…historical time and geographical space, to create something bridging and smashing genre. With this one, the literal and metaphorical nods are everywhere. Production digs deep to reference everyone from originators like Grand Wizzard Theodore, Nas, DJ Screw, RZA, DJ Premier, to current producers like Daringer, Lukah, Cities Aviv, you know. But hip-hop is also about the collaborations. So we built that in from the start. Our basic question was this: whose voice and approach would best serve the track?
As he remains tight-lipped about those collaborators, I ask Mahan how the mix of being from Atlanta but having a formative history in London has influenced them both as musicians and as a band. Has the UK capital continued to affect what they do, even though they’re barely in the city anymore?
This is for real an Atlanta record. That transnationalism, though, is always there. Man, we take our influences just as much from Black radicals in the US who saw their struggle in the fights against imperialism all across the Third World to British post punk or industrial folks who loved rap, techno and electro. A pretty wide spectrum, but oddly, deeply philosophically connected. Britain was at the epicenter of all types of wild cultural, political, religious and military colonial exploits. But then it is also the home of so much too: anti-imperialism, grime, jungle, drill, goth, punk, you name it. Shit’s been so real the past few years. Even before the pandemic–touring and grinding through deep-cut and backwoods markets, working a record marred with internal and external strife and just generally trying to stick to the mission in such a corrupt environment. The thick isolation of the pandemic only increased our desire to build, not only within our own camp but with other like-minded folks. So we hunkered down—in the A [Atlanta] and later the South Carolina forests, central Florida, Philly and NYC—to make something that reflected that desire to grow our community of collaborators and make more solid, the bonds we have always felt.”