Alt-J: ‘The BRITs have got more indie and more credible’

Gus Unger-Hamilton says it is not strange to be on Brits and Mercury Music Prize shortlists

Alt-J ‘s Gus Unger-Hamilton has said that the band’s three Brit Awards nominations and previous Mercury Prize win show that the band have one foot in the mainstream and one in the leftfield.

Unger-Hamilton, whose band won the Mercury Music Prize in 2012 for their debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’, told NME: “I think it illustrates the point that people don’t know what to do with us. On one hand we’re a slightly leftfield indie band, but on the other we won the Mercury Prize, and we’re played on Radio 1 a fair bit, so it’s not that unusual. It’s like we have a foot in both camps, and this sort of proves it.”

Elaborating further on why it is not strange to potentially be able to win the Mercury and a Brit Award in the same year, he continued: “The two – the BRITs and the Mercury Prize – seemed opposed for so long, one about commercial success, the other being about credibility. Now they’re overlapping. If you look at the Mercury Prize, most of the acts were on major labels. Nothing against that, but it’s not quite as leftfield as it once was, plus majors are releasing different sorts of music. Then again, the Mercury is just about good albums, no matter what label they’re released on. Also, the BRITs have got more indie and more credible. No one is selling records apart from Adele, who seems to be selling all the records, so indie artists and so-called mainstream artists are selling similar numbers.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’ve got no time for people being cynical about the record industry and things. Once you sign a record contract, you’re part of the record industry and you’re acknowledging that it’s a business. People complain about things being commercial, but that’s about what choices you make within the industry. It’s about money, yes, but it’s also about making great music first and foremost. They’re not mutually exclusive things. Mumford & Sons are hugely successful, but also make great music and they’re a band I respect immensely.”

Alt-J are nominated for three awards at tonight’s Brit Awards, including British Breakthrough Act, British Group and British Album of the Year.

Emeli Sandé is being tipped for double success with bookmakers William Hill offering virtually unbackable odds of 1/6 and 1/10 to pick up Best Album and Best Female respectively. Meanwhile, a late flurry of betting activity has seen Calvin Harris’ odds on winning the Best Male category slashed to 5/2. However, the Scottish DJ is still behind Ben Howard in the odds with the singer-songwriter 2/7 on to win the award ahead of Plan B, Olly Murs and Richard Hawley.

See who is nominated at this years Brits and discover NME’s predictions and tips in Mark Beaumont’s blog.