Inside the Victoria Dalston Pub in Northeast London, people stood conversing in groups at the bar and at couches in the corners. If you listened closely enough, you might have heard the distant thumping of drums and hum of guitars. An old bookshelf runs across a majority of the pub’s back wall, but it holds much more than rows of old books. When a portion of the wall swings open to reveal a secret doorway, the sound grows louder and clearer, and the pub is exposed to the unfiltered sound of Para Alta’s soundcheck.
Para Alta’s melodic guitars and alternative rock sound stem from classic rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac, to modern alternative like Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala, drawing inspiration from the best of multiple eras. “We literally have the widest range of influences out there,” says drummer Tom Sotheran. “Early influences come from local bands in our town we used to go and watch, which is what kind of made us want to form the band.”
Tom and bandmates Jonny and Luke grew up in Hartlepool, a small, coastal town in Northeast England. They have known each other since they were children. Bassist Sonny moved to Hartlepool from Plymouth at 14. “We’ve been playing together since we were about 16 or 17,” says Sotheran. “But it became serious over the past 2 to 3 years.”
The band originally used a different alias, until they ran into various problems with it. When another band adopted the same name, they knew they had to change it, but there was a time crunch. “We had about an hour to submit a new name for the release of a new tune and just so happens one of the lads was drinking a bottle of wine called Parra Alta,” said Sotheran.
The four-piece is currently based in London, after moving last year. They all live in the same house and are constantly able to play music together. Last year was big for Para Alta, when they released their first single through the label Kissability and have released several more since. After numerous releases and gigs, Sotheran says that. “We now know that it’s something that we can, and want to spend the rest of our lives doing.”
One of the highlights of the band’s young career was touring with their favorite band, Tokyo Police Club. “When we got the shout to play the shows we couldn’t believe it,” recalls Sotheran. “I remember getting to Glasgow and the venue putting a table in front of the stage for us to have a meal and beer while watching Tokyo Police Club soundchecking my favorite tunes, that’ll always stick with me.”
Backseat Driver, Para Alta’s most recent release, is also one of their favorites to play live. It features the band’s signature combination of melodic guitars and high-energy drums. “It’s a tune we feel best represents us as a band, and we love playing it live as it’s got plenty of energy,” says Sotheran. “It’s kind of a classic tale of a lovers tussle behind the wheel of a relationship and the strains it can bring, but the music and melody behind the words drive the song to be positive and fun.”
We can expect more from Para Alta soon, with three new unreleased songs in their recent set. According to Sotheran, new recordings are in the works.