Five Questions With… Alex Little
The frontwoman of edgy and buzzed-about Vancouver rockers Alex Little & The Suspicious Minds discusses the band's debut EP, its artistic evolution, her love of Badfinger, and a spooky hotel room.
By Jason Schneider
With a sound that blends late ‘70s New York edginess with modern pop smarts, Alex Little & The Suspicious Minds are poised to make a bold first impression with their debut EP, No Control, out May 31 on Light Organ Records. The Vancouver-based quartet led by frontwoman Little also features guitarist Andy Bishop and bassist Mike Rosen of White Ash Falls, along with drummer Cody Hiles of The Zolas.
Unafraid to break musical barriers, the group unflinchingly tackles big topics such as drug addiction, mental health, and heartbreak. They also aren’t shy about giving nods to their influences, as seen in the video for No Control’s first single “Black Haze,” which cheekily recreates the classic clip for The Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket.”
Little previously played in bands as a drummer, and when she picked up a guitar, she reached out to her friend Bishop to teach her a few tricks. Songs soon began pouring out of them, and Hiles and Rosen were quickly drafted in. No Control was subsequently laid down amidst the rugged beauty of Vancouver Island with producer Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Destroyer). Recording primarily live off the floor, the relaxed environment translated into loose, vibrant arrangements that crackle with raw energy and spontaneity.
The combination of searing distortion with aching pop hooks—with a dash of psychedelic reverb for good measure—is just the right recipe for classic stripped-down rock and roll. We spoke with Alex Little ahead of the band’s Toronto showcase at the Rivoli on Monday, May 27. For more info go to susminds.com.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
I feel like we’re starting to create a real signature sound. Part of that comes from communication, which we’ve all gotten better at. The cool thing about this band is that we've all been friends in various capacities for a few years now, so there's a lot of trust. That's been the key to how things have progressed up to this point, and the more we play together, the more specific our sound becomes. It started as a fun project with no specific genre or vision in mind, and now there is a clear idea, which we’ve worked hard to achieve. We're all stoked about No Control, and the new songs we're working on for our next full-length record are getting us really excited too. We're starting to figure out what our vibe is.
What songs on the EP are you most proud of and why?
We truly love every song on this EP, but I’m most proud of “Black Haze” in particular. I think the recording captures the dreamy and rhythmic nature of the song. The dynamics are totally dialed, and the guitar solo in the bridge is maybe the perfect solo ever. Everyone’s playing shines for me on that track. We all have strong musical personalities, and this song feels like it showcases all of our strengths, both individually and as a band.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
"No Matter What" by Badfinger. This is the best song ever written. The crunchiness of the guitar and the melody go together to create a rock n roll piece of perfection. I remember the first time I heard it as a kid and being mesmerized by how everything sits together.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
The most significant change I've experienced in the past year has probably been letting go of my need to try to impress people that don’t genuinely care about me. That's part of growing up though; I suppose—learning to focus on what deserves my attention and giving love only to those who return it. It seems like a no-brainer, but these are things that people need to learn at their own pace to truly understand and internalize. I’ve finally arrived at that spot, and my life has improved dramatically as a result. Playing music is pretty emotionally involved and requires a lot of vulnerability, which is why many people don’t even try to pursue it due to fear of what others will think. I used to be like that too, but now it barely crosses my mind.
What's your best touring story?
This past summer, we were booked to play a small hippie festival in northern B.C. The festival organizers booked us a little hotel to stay at instead of putting us up in tents on the campgrounds, which we thought would be a great idea until we saw the room. It was pretty trippy. It had tiny little rooms with ‘70s wood paneling, yellow cigarette-stained curtains and carpet… and blood dripping out of the shower faucet! It felt like we were on the set of a horror film—serious murder vibes. We all laughed about it and did our best to make the creepy place home, but felt incredibly relieved to get out of there!