In an effort to return to a sort of normalcy, JP-based band Alex and the People, along with another band called Wildcat Slim, held an in-person concert at Midway Cafe on June 5. “It was super crazy,” said Alex Alvanos, leader of the band Alex and the People. “The show nearly sold out. The crowd was dancing and singing along and shaking off the Covid webs together.” The Gazette spoke with both Alvanos and Isaac Maupin of Wildcat Slim to learn more about what the bands have been up to and what they’re looking forward to as things begin to open back up. Maupin, who also plays in Alex and the People, used to live in JP but now lives in New York, said that Wildcat Slim is preparing to record their second album in July. “We’ve been kind of cloistered,” he said of the group and what they’ve been doing during the pandemic. Alvanos said that he’s “been working on three different projects during quarantine.”
He said that his grandfather died at the beginning of the pandemic, so he was ale to “hold some space for grief” and express it through his music. He also said he was able to talk with his father during the quarantine period of the pandemic tp learn more about his family past and history. “Both trauma and joy show up in that,” he said, which led to the creation of what he called a “video album.” Alvanos received a grant from the city to show the video album, titled “Yia Yia and Papa,” the Greek words for grandmother and grandfather. “COVID was weird, man,” he said.
“We had some shows lined up with friends,” and when his album was released last April, he had more than 200 cassette tapes made. “I’ve just been leaving them in tiny libraries in Boston,” he said. Alvanos said that the album has been well received, but it was a challenge to promote it during the pandemic. He said that he and the other members tried to figure out how to play shows virtually so they could still share their music with others. Maupin said that Wildcat Slim’s first album was released in 2016, and a couple of singles were released during the quarantine period that may make it onto the new record this year.
When it comes to the pandemic and writing new songs, Maupin and Alvanos had different viewpoints on the experience. “I don’t write a lot of songs,” he said, but he said that “not having anywhere” to test his new songs during the pandemic discouraged him from doing much writing, He said that “having consistent rehearsal” is really what helps him with his songwriting. Maupin described Wildcat Slim’s sound as “eclectic bar rock. We play in a diverse array of types within…[the] genre of rock music.” Alvanos, on the other hand, said that “I write like five songs a week and I throw most of them out.” He continued, “music and songwriting is an outlet for me,” and a way for him to be “able to process and make sense of the world.” Alex and the People has a “70s meets 90s kind of dancy rock,” Alvanos said, but a lot of the work he’s been doing lately is “much more Greek folk,” and “some of it’s a little bit more like modern Indie folk.” The show at the Midlway was a breath of fresh air for both of the bands and their fans alike. Alvanos said that when the show was first booked, the intention was for it to just be a streaming show “with a very small in-person audience.” Now that the COVID restrictions have been lifted, more people were able to attend the in-person show. “I’ve played the Midway so many times,” Maupin said, adding that since he is no longer a JP resident, it is “sort of a homecoming” for him to play there again. He said he had hoped it would “be a kind of breath of normalcy to people who liked going to see live music. For me, it’s very exciting and very comforting to have this happen again. I hope that is the experience of everyone.”