I had the pleasure of meeting English singer-songwriter Alton Wahlberg during a live evening in Norwich, UK at Epic Studios. Mixing classic acoustic rock elements with a truly honest lyrical perspective, Alton Wahlberg‘s style and delivery has resulted in a duration at number 1 on the iTunes UK Singer/Songwriter charts, amassing him a dedicated following, as he tours in support of the release of his latest EP Time.
While taking some time out from performing, Alton was kind enough to chat with us here at AltWire, read more below!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Hi Alton, massive thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us! For those not yet familiar with your music, would you mind first telling us a little bit about yourself?
Alton Wahlberg: I’m a Norfolk based musician, was given a guitar for Christmas when I was 12 and fell in love with writing and playing music! I started off busking and joined a few bands over the years where I learned the trade and gained valuable experience. I spent more than 10 years gigging around on the pub circuit, playing open mic nights and performing to pretty much anyone who would listen! Just over two years ago I decided to leave the bands and return to the thing I love the most – writing and performing my own music. I’ve been lucky enough to build an amazing group of followers who have supported me all the way which has enabled me to take the plunge and go ‘full time’ as a solo musician!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: What would you say first drew you to start writing and performing music? Is there a particular moment you can recall that stands out?
Alton Wahlberg: I think because I grew up with my Dad’s tape collection full of the likes of James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley and Paul Simon, I always knew that was the type of music I wanted to play.
Funnily enough, it was during one of the biggest gigs I’ve ever played in with my old band that I decided to take the leap into a solo career…
I used to play in a Killers Tribute Band called ‘The Fillers’. The guys in the band were by far the most talented people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and I learned so much from them. We were headlining one of the biggest Tribute festivals in Europe, and at the end of the set as I looked out onto literally – THOUSANDS of people screaming out as we broke into ‘Mr Brightside’ I just had this little feeling eating away at me that this wasn’t my song. The thousands of screaming fans didn’t actually want us – they wanted the real thing and we were just the closest thing to it at the time. Right then I knew it wasn’t enough for me to just play other peoples songs.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Since you’ve mentioned playing in a cover band for The Killers, and also feature a number of cover songs on your YouTube channel; are there any artists in particular you would love to collaborate with?
Alton Wahlberg: Obviously the big names come to mind – but realistically, the likes of Passenger and of course the main man Ed Sheeran aren’t going to be queuing up for a collaboration with me! To be honest, I love collaborating with anyone and actually have worked with several up-and-coming musicians already and have a section on my YouTube Channel dedicated to collaborations. I would genuinely work with anyone, just being around like-minded musicians is such a buzz for me!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: You jokingly described your sound as “depressing acoustic music” before opening the evening at Epic Studios last Friday, are there any specific musical influences that add to your style?
Alton Wahlberg: I remember stumbling into a Church in Cambridge many years ago now and listening to a guy on a guitar singing a sad song about a Homeless fella called David who he’d met in a hostel. I was mesmerized by this guy and could literally feel the sadness and emotion as he sang this song. I remember thinking to myself – This is how I want to make people feel when they listen to me. The guys name was Passenger and as his career exploded he became an absolute inspiration to me and proved that a solo acoustic busker really could make it in this tough industry.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: One thing that really seemed to resonate with your audience were the brief stories you told during your performance about what inspired you to write a particular song, such as the elderly marathon runner on ’24 Years’, or the reflections on being a father on ‘Questions’. Would you mind perhaps naming a few more that stand out to you?
Alton Wahlberg: I worked in a Prison for 10 years, teaching Fitness courses to help with rehabilitation and during that time met so many people who had some incredible stories to tell. I’ve actually written a few songs about some of those people, two of these songs have featured on different EPs that I’ve released on iTunes and Spotify. One is called ‘Criminal’ and the other is ‘Jailhouse Confessions’. You should check them out!!!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Throughout ‘Walk on By’ you touch on earlier days playing along to Jimi Hendrix and playing locally, do you have any particularly fond memories from playing music live?
Alton Wahlberg: My first ever gig was at my School Christmas Show. Me and a couple of friends played 2 Oasis tracks and that was when I got the bug for performing live! I think my favorite memory though was meeting Passenger the guy who influenced me to go solo whilst I was busking in Manchester. Incredibly and totally by coincidence he was performing in a little Chapel on the opposite side of the road where I was busking! We had a chat, we had a selfie, he signed my guitar and that was that! Top bloke!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Congratulations on the recent release of your latest EP Time! Tell us a little bit about what this EP means to you at this point in your career, was there anything you felt you had done differently to previous releases on this EP?
Alton Wahlberg: This EP is by far the most personal collection of songs I’ve released so far. There was a massive amount of pressure on this release as my previous EP – 1723 – had spent some time at Number 1 on the iTunes UK Singer/Songwriter charts. When I finally decided on the songs I wanted to include in this one I had a moment where I worried that they were just too sad and depressing and needed something a bit more cheerful included. But I wanted to keep this a really personal collection and felt that I wasn’t being true to myself by just including a ‘happy’ song for the sake of it. On the day it was released it went straight to number 5 on the singer/songwriter charts so it was a massive relief that people were still downloading it!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Following the release of Time, where would you like to take your music next?
Alton Wahlberg: I’ve kind of learned over the years that everyone’s musical journey is different and nothing ever goes to a generic ‘plan’. For me, I just want to keep writing music that people enjoy listening to, I want to keep performing and connecting with people through my music and just keep plugging away to reach as many people as I can!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us here at AltWire, on a final note was there anything else you would like to add, either to fans or our readers?
Alton Wahlberg: Just sincere and genuine thanks to every single person who has watched me live, listened to me online or just simply taken the time to follow my musical journey on Facebook. I’m eternally grateful for your support, my songs and my stories mean absolutely nothing if no one is listening so thank you so so much to all who have supported me so far!
Listen to Alton Wahlberg’s ‘Here I Go Again’ here: