Alt-J 'not thinking' about possible Mercury nomination

  • 25 August 2012
  • From the section Music

Alt-J have made a formidable impression on many music critics this year with their album An Awesome Wave.

With September approaching, attention has turned to the Mercury Prize and the potential nominees.

"It's in the back of our minds but we're not thinking about it," says bassist Gwil Sainsbury after a suggestion they could be nominated.

Keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton joked: "That would be it. I could leave the band with a Mercury nomination."

Speaking backstage at Leeds Festival he added: "Not many albums get nominated compared to the number which come out. It would be incredible."

Leeds alumni

Playing the Leeds Festival was a homecoming of sorts. The four-piece formed whilst studying at the city's university in 2007.

"It feels amazing to be back, driving through Yorkshire, it feels like home," says Unger-Hamilton.

"At the beginning [at Leeds University] it was just about making good music," he adds.

"It wasn't about getting girls or playing gigs, it was just to make some serious tracks."

Five years on and the band have been drawing progressively larger crowds.

"The audience at Reading on Friday was the most energetic and intense we've ever played to," says Sainsbury.

"Normally people just stand there and nod. But every time we play another gig, it's as if more people are there, more people know the words, more people are making triangles with their hands."

US gigs

The shape of the hands - and the band's name - comes from the triangle made by pressing Alt and J on a certain brand of computer's keyboard.

At Leeds, the band performed a 35-minute set on the Festival Republic stage including Breezeblocks and Tessellate.

The group are now preparing for gigs in the US and Australia.

"It's fantastic to sometimes take a step back and go 'this is my job'," says Gus. "That's a really nice feeling."

See pictures and video from the festivals at the BBC Reading and Leeds website.