Alpha Prevail: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
By Sara Fincham
Usually when someone suggests something I am sensitive enough to consider it. Usually when someone gives me advice I am respectful enough to remember it, regardless of whether I think it’s right. Occasionally said suggestions are satisfactory and aforementioned advice is accurate. In the case of Alpha Prevail, I listened, I learned, and I liked!
Hailing from the hometown of Orange County, CA, Alpha Prevail is bringing a positive presence to performing. More than just museful musicians, Daniel McKim – vocals, Steve Stelling – bass, Chris Griffith – guitar, and Andy Gardikas – drums are affirmative artists. Alpha Prevail spreads a message of respectability and reliability, fearlessness and fortitude. Their music is more about the audience than anything else – they are a mirror to the masses who enjoy their music.. Alpha Prevail is not just a name, but a new order – their mindful message is that you are Alpha Prevail, that creativity, accountability, confidence, positivity and passion can be helpfully harnessed and fruitfully funneled to achieve inner enlightenment.
With a lust for life and a positive perspective, Alpha Prevail simply wants you to succeed in being the best, to prevail over any problems that may precede you. In their song “Take the Crown,” the insightful lyrics implore “Be your own energy/Guide yourself to ecstasy/See your whole destiny/Waiting there so patiently.” Their self-titled debut CD can be downloaded for free on their website. Alpha Prevail is medicine for the mind, thoughtful therapy. When it comes to Alpha Prevail, their cup is always half full, and I’ll cheers to that!
Sara Fincham: In most forms of self expression, whether it be playing music or performing or writing or what have you, criticism comes with the creativity. Do you look at criticism as something that is always constructive, that you can learn a lesson from?
Chris: Criticism is the source of feedback that tells us how well we are entertaining our fans and really, anyone else who is paying attention to us. While it often tells us something useful, it is sometimes hard to determine the difference a whackjob’s opinion, and an opinion that speaks for the majority. It’s also difficult to balance our musical forces and the creative nuances that speak for us, with the musical expectations and norms of people who are not involved in the band, and listen to everyday-KROQ-rock.
Steve: I think a lot of it depends on the source really but as a whole, criticism tells me that “you’re listening” which I believe in the grand scheme of things will bode quite well for us. So in that respect I believe it’s largely constructive. In this day and age, I feel that attention spans are only decreasing, so if we can stay in front of someone long enough for them to genuinely form an honest opinion about us, I’d say we’re on the right track. I do have to add that I think we’d be pretty hard-pressed to find someone more critical of us than ourselves as well. We definitely have no issue with putting ourselves under the microscope.
Dan: As a bottom line, the only way to really survive is to take criticism as something that you can use to better yourself or better what you’re doing. Anytime you put yourself into a situation that comes with a lot of exposure, especially in this society, criticism is something that’s going to come along with that – we don’t have delusions that we aren’t’ going to be criticized.
Andy: Whether the person’s trying to be constructive or not, there’s always something to be taken from criticism. You learn a lot more from mistakes than successes.
SF: Where does your mental toughness come from, your inability to be broken down, especially in an industry that seems to swallow you up and spit you out?
Chris: Well, being the newest member to the band, I can say I had to develop a mental toughness from the start – sarcasm is the dominating force of Alpha Prevail humor. We’ve played many shows – some of them have been fun – others have been, uuugh, awkward. We’ve been criticized, most often for being “TOO LOUD.” We all know, however, that we always need to improve, adapt, and overcome the latest obstacle, which the music industry seems to provide with more than enough urgency. I’d hope that when we are swallowed, it is never because we ‘taste bad’ but because we are too tough to chew – where does the ability to wipe off the metaphorical saliva and jump back on the stage come from? We were all just born that badass.
Steve: Haha Chris…It’s not about the inability to be broken down but more so the resilience to always get back up. That’s just one of the core principles behind ALPHA PREVAIL. To be successful in any industry you must be able to cope with adversity and persevere. I feel more that toughness is not something you initially carry into a difficult situation as much as it is something that you gain coming out of it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you become mentally tough by virtue of overcoming all the challenges encountered on the way to realizing your ultimate goals.
Andy: Yeah, as Chris said, you definitely need a thick skin to hang out with us, as well as be a musician in general. I think our toughness is derived from our genuine love for writing and performing music. I love to create with these guys, as well as take the stage, so nothing is going to stop me from doing that any chance I get.
Dan: I wish I could prove that I DO have an inability to be broken down. Just like everyone else, I have ups and downs… There are times when I’m very confident in what I’m doing, and times where that confidence is doubted. But the overall theology behind ALPHA PREVAIL is to find your inner strength and overcome the obstacles that can be put in your way.
SF: I am a huge fan of your honesty and openness when it comes to writing. Is there ever anything that hinders you when songwriting, anything that you hold back, that you’re hesitant to put on paper, to share that part of yourself?
Dan: There’s always going to be things that I’m hesitant about possibly telling the entire fucking world, but in the moment of writing a song, that’s definitely not the first thing that comes to my mind. I write a song because I’m in a moment; feeling an emotion. I definitely don’t think that someone is going to judge me about that moment of honesty that I’m sharing.
Steve: It’s a necessary evil – you have to be genuine. You can’t make stuff up.
Andy: This is our creative outlet. I couldn’t make you something dishonest if I tried; it’s me on that track no matter what. But then again, I’m just the drummer. As far as Dan’s lyrics, they all tie in to the mindset that we have developed for ourselves as a group: that we can achieve any goal we strive for. That can’t be faked; we’re living it.
SF: I am a big believer in karma and the “you get what you give” mentality. Obviously you give a lot to your fans and followers – a safe, supportive space, encouragement to pursue their passions, a drive to discover themselves and their destinies, and lyrics to look to when they’re lonely – what do you get from them?
Chris: We also give them a free debut album- www.alphaprevail.com, download it while supplies last! What do we get in return? Well obviously that warm feeling in our hearts for giving people a good time. A warm feeling throughout my body for being able to get on stage and perform. And a warm feeling in my pants when groupies inundate the tour bus.
Steve: Haha…Yeah Chris you should probably have that warm feeling checked out I suppose. But in all seriousness, I get everything from them: Inspiration, motivation, enthusiasm, satisfaction, validation, reassurance and even criticism. There are really so many things to take away…and I think it’s that genuine mutually beneficial relationship that is so special and extremely rare to find. All these things come together to provide the evidence that we’re on the right path as well.
Dan: First of all, thank you so much for interpreting those amazing gifts that I give – it’s quite humbling. To tell the truth I don’t ever write songs in the position that I’m really telling someone anything. More than anything I’m really reminding myself and the people around me… of trials and tribulations that have gone on in my life. Writing is kind of like writing a personal diary – that by some twist of fate gets broadcasted of the world.
Andy: I get awesome jaw-dropped looks when I’m shredding some double bass or a tasty tom-groove… or both simultaneously…FAKE THE WORDS BABY! And I’ve been told I return some funny faces myself.
SF: I’m sure you’ve had to overcome obstacles and been down and discouraged – how do you deal with the negative Nancies and what gets you through the tough times?
Chris: We spend a lot of time analyzing our performances – everytime we gain a lesson from a bad situation, it helps us move forward. Forward movement is a good way to get through tough patches. If you’re going through hell… Keep going…
Steve: Definitely agree with Chris, it’s all a learning process with the goal of perpetual improvement. There are lessons to be learned from each and every experience, we just have to make sure that we recognize and apply them going forward.
Dan: There’s an overwhelming amount of negativity in the world in general. Everybody wants to talk about what’s going wrong. It’s very easy to be pulled into that spiral of negativity. The morning after the day that I decided to dedicate my life to a career in music, I woke up saying WTF am I doing. That frame of mind slowly but surely faded away as I put one foot in front of the other, and each day took one step towards the dream that i decided to pursue. The way I deal with negative Nancies is not to deal with them at all but prove that the things that they say are wrong by accomplishing my goals. Or I collect them and put them in my own personal little jar on my desk.
Steve – I’ve never met a Nancy that wasn’t negative.
SF: Was it frustrating, finding the right fit for this band, the accurate attitudes that work both separately and together, or was it a relatively reasonable road?
Steve: To be honest I don’t think it was really all that tough, though I definitely acknowledge we’ve been extremely lucky in that regard. I think subconsciously, our similar attitudes are just one of the unifying things that really drew us all together in the first place. Not to say we’re all cut from the same mold ‘cause we’re all most definitely different dudes individually. It’s our shared mindset combined with the vision of what we can potentially become that I personally think makes us the right fit for each other. It also doesn’t hurt when each one of us brings different and invaluable skill-sets to the table as well…
Dan: It wasn’t frustrating at all – the band formed with 4 people with very similar mindsets and goals. There was a time of anxiety when one of those original members left the band for personal reasons, but Chris came into the band and fit like a snug warm glove around my nut sack. (?)
Andy: Sweet Mercy, that’s an awful mental picture. A little background here: Steve and I grew up together, we’re cousins, and I met Dan on the first day of high school, which the three of us attended together. We started jamming immediately, all of us sharing similar influences. We didn’t really form the band, though, until Dan went to Musician’s Institute, and he was patient enough to hold off finding other musicians to work with while Steve and I finished college and relocated back to home base, Orange County. Chris was recommended to me by a neighbor when we lost our aforementioned lead guitarist, and for the most part it’s been anything but frustrating. As Steve said, we all have different things to offer, and we’re each expanding our duties and the extent to which we conduct them constantly.
SF: I would just like to personally say thank you for the positive presence that you possess, and would like to inquire as to what’s next on your agenda?
Chris: Whats on our agenda? The same thing we do every night… TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD. ALPHA PREVAIL…
Steve: It’s full speed ahead as always for ALPHA PREVAIL, exploring every opportunity extended our way and immersing ourselves in each as they come. As of right now, we’re gearing up for our first Battle Of The Bands at a Killarney Pub on the 15th in Huntington Beach and all I’ll say is that we have every intention of garnering some attention with our performance…
Andy: More live footage, a music video, and a new album loom over the horizon.