For Alberta Cross, creating a sophomore album took longer than expected. Perhaps that’s why the record is so aptly named Songs of Patience. But patience paid off because the soulful, soaring melodies and intricate rock riffs that the band delivers on every track of the album are simply stunning. Alberta Cross- Petter Ericson Stakee (vocals/guitar) and Terry Wolfers (bass)- took its time, moving across the country and then back again, writing and rewriting songs, fine-tuning melodies and reworking lyrics, to craft a superior sophomore album. I was lucky enough to chat with Ericson Stakee and the gentle musician opened up about the writing process, touring the world, and pushing the band’s musical boundaries.
When I catch up with Ericson Stakee he is in London, just one of the many stops that Alberta Cross has made during its whirlwind year. With all the traveling, performances, and late nights, I don’t know the how musicians survive life on the road. “You kind of just get used to it and you keep on going,” he tells me. “You can’t stop. The key is to keep on going.”
Alberta Cross is no stranger to the Colorado area, though on the current tour the band’s van broke down and the Denver show was canceled. “We love it there,” Ericson Stakee says honestly. “We’ve played quite a lot of shows in Denver, probably about five times. The first show we did there was at the Mile High Music Festival. I remember that being brilliant. We’ve played the Bluebird Theater, which is really awesome, and we’ve played the Larimer Lounge a bunch of times too.” Alberta Cross has plans to make up for the Denver show they missed this summer. “I think we’re going to look into rescheduling the show,” Ericson Stakee reveals. “I’m not exactly sure when but hopefully sooner rather than later.”
On the heels of the new album Songs of Patience, Alberta Cross has been touring all summer. “We’ve been out for about seven and a half weeks now,” Ericson Stakee states. “We did about one month in America and then now we’ve been touring Europe for the last three and a half weeks. So far so good. America was good, we did a club run and it was pretty short, a month in America seems like a short tour sincewe normally do closer to two months. It was great. We came from the club run to Europe to do a bunch of festivals that are really crazy. But it’s been really great.”
Songs of Patience is a fantastic album brimming with powerful, soul ridden rock songs. “I think it was kind of a drastic second album,” Ericson Stakee explains. “We wanted to try something different. So we started in LA with big producers just to try it and see how it would work. It wasn’t really for us, so we went in another direction. We took it back to New York and produced it with our friend who is a great producer and we kind of brought the music back down. It was really good. Song-wise, we worked hard to craft the songs and get the melodies right. I think it’s warmer and a little more colorful than the last record. The last record was a little darker and more spaced out.”
Due to the way the second album was written and recorded, in different cities over a period of time with much reworking, there are some songs on there that pushed the band in new musical directions. “This record has a few songs that were written in LA and so they were written differently than how I normally write music,” Ericson Stakee shares. “I was pushed a little astray during the writing, but they were still coming from me. I definitely thought that some of the songs were almost too straightforward, but I’m happy now. I think it makes a good record, having different kinds of songs that sound good together.”
My favorite song on the album is the second one, “Crate of Gold”. “I worked that riff while I was in New York in the studio, it’s my friend’s studio, we were just hanging out,” Ericson Stakee describes. “It was a late night and I just came up with the riff. I didn’t finish it for a while, but then we went on tour and came back to do some recording then I changed the song musically. I always thought it would be a crazy rock song.”
Alberta Cross is performing a lot of the new songs from Songs of Patience for the first time in front of an audience, so I wonder if there are any songs that are more difficult to play live than others. “On every album sixty or seventy percent of the songs are going to sound great live,” Ericson Stakee relays. “Then there’s always songs that don’t really work as well live. There’s a few songs on the record that we haven’t played live yet probably just for that reason, we need time to figure out how to play them live. We haven’t really played “Ophelia on my Mind” yet but I’m sure we’ll start playing it eventually. We’re not really a technical band, we don’t really work like that, so I don’t think that would stop us from playing any of our songs.”