Storytellers of a new generation
9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Alt-J

9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Alt-J

1. They were originally called Daljit Dhaliwal. Yes!

Alt-J was first called Daljit Dhaliwal after the popular British TV presenter. They ditched this name for another one – Films - but to avoid a case of mistaken identity with another American band called The Films, they chose to finally rename themselves ∆.

They were originally called Daljit Dhaliwal. Yes!
Daljit Dhaliwal
Photo source:

2. Their name was not a spoken word

The band’s name was ∆ till they were on the radio but soon they realised they needed a name that can be spoken and not just written. If you press ‘alt+J’ on a Mac it types a triangle or a delta. Now the delta symbol is more of a logo for the band.

Alt J
Photo source: Facebook Page/Alt-J

3. Thom Green's first drum-kit had a saucepan in place of a cymbal
Green's distinctive style of drumming owes its birth to a saucepan.

Thom Green
Thom Green
Photo source: Facebook Page/Alt-J

He was once quoted in an interview with Rhythm magazine saying, "When we started we didn't have any room for any cymbals or anything so I actually used a saucepan. Literally, I tied a saucepan to my left leg - with a dressing gown cord - It was a great look. The first few shows I actually used that [set-up]." 

He added: "We didn't have any room because we got together in a bedroom and to start with, I just had a little snare drum and then I used my kick and it just evolved. The more we wrote there were no cymbals so it just made sense to never use them."


4. The band members met as students
The band met while studying at Leeds University. Vocalist Joe Newman had written some songs, so he roped in his friends Gus Unger-Hamilton, Gwil Sainsbury and Thom Green. Gwil left the band in 2014 after a “personal decision.”


5. All four of them are fans of Where the Wild Things Are
Their song, ‘Breezeblocks’ has a line from author Maurice Sendak’s children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. It goes like this: “Please don’t go, we’ll eat you whole, we love you so!” 

Where the wild things are

6. Newman’s lyrics pay tribute to films
The title of their debut An Awesome Wave is picked from a dialogue from the 2000 thriller film American Psycho. Also, the lyrics of the song ‘Matilda’ are an ode to Natalie Portman’s character in Luc Besson’s 1994 film, Leon.

American Psycho

7.  The song 'Nara' is about supporting gay marriage

This song is a crowd favourite because of its references to the characters from The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Gsus revealed the deeper meaning in an interview:
"[It's] named after a city in Japan where [there are] deer that wander freely all around the city and so the song 'Nara' is about gay marriage and kind of saying 'it's ok if people want to marry people of the same sex as them because they're not hurting anybody'. People should be allowed to live like a deer in Nara: freely, doing what they want without anyone telling them what to do."

8. Aaron Paul (aka Jessie from Breaking Bad) once tweeted to Alt-J asking them to perform at his house

Twiiter Screen shot of Aaron Paul account

9. They once dressed up as Vikings for a gig
This gig was for a Russian telecommunications company. "We had loads of fun and thought 'nobody will ever find out about this, except now we're talking about it on national radio,” said Gsus in an interview later.


Cover Image: Facebook Page/Alt-J

Words: Karan Khosla