Alister M
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Alister M

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"Finding his voice"


LAS CRUCES — On a windy Monday afternoon, Steve MacIntyre and Janelle Borsberry blow into the tranquil entryway of International Delights Café in Las Cruces.
MacIntyre is carrying a shoulder bag that is strapped across his chest and sporting tousled hair, and Borsberry is warmly wrapped in a vintage-looking peacoat with embroidered flowers.
I nestle into a back corner table while they both order lunch. When they joined me, we discuss MacIntyre's latest additions to his band, Alister M, which will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at The Rain Forest Bar, 1765 S. Main St.
MacIntyre has been a part of the Las Cruces music scene for about seven years, teaming up with other musicians for projects such as The Dead Rose Sinclair and Retsila Gem, eventually embarking on his solo project with Alister M (folk rock/alternative/indie band).
Three months ago, MacIntyre decided to add the musical talents of Borsberry (backup vocalist, violin), Reed Elliott (bass) and Justin McDonald (drums).
"Strings are always nice in
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alternative music, I think," he said about adding Borsberry to the lineup.
Borsberry is a newcomer to the Las Cruces music scene who hails from El Paso and is studying art at New Mexico State University. Although she said Alister M is her first real band experience, she has played violin for eight years.
"I tend to improv a little bit and Steve is more of a, kind of, "let's get this down' person," Borsberry explained about their rehearsals.
MacIntyre said he continues to predominantly pen the music and lyrics, but enjoys input from the other band members.
PULSE: Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?
Steve MacIntyre: It's always different. I definitely have to be in the right mood to write lyrics. You know, I can't just sit down anytime and come up with good lyrics. Usually I start out a song with one sort of idea in mind. I'll be feeling something that day, some sort of emotion and I'll just start writing about that. And then almost always it changes throughout the song, so I'll skip around different ideas.
How does the collaboration come in? Do you write the music by yourself first?
Yeah, I'm pretty much writing all the songs and then I just work them out with these guys, with Janelle (Borsberry) and Reed (Elliott) and Justin (McDonald). We just go through them. In my experience with bands, it comes out better that way. If everybody's inputting their ideas then they all want the song to go one way. If one person writes it and then other people work around that. I'm all into if Janelle wrote a song we could all work around that. Just in my experience I haven't had good luck with all collaborating at the same time kind of thing. I know some bands can do that, but I've never had any luck with that, but I know a lot of great bands do that.
So, you had problems with your voice a few years back. How are things going?
It was 2003. It was actually from doing a lot of screaming in bands and stuff like that. Basically, I just started losing my voice. The throat is a muscle and I just strained it. It probably took about six months for me to really be able to sing and do something again. There was like a two-week span where I didn't talk at all. It would hurt even so much to talk 'cause I pulled my throat. So, I was working at PDQ (One-Hour Photo) actually at the time at the photo lab and I would just write on like a note card, "Strained voice. Can't talk. Please point." It was really bad.
What did you have to do in order to recover?
It came back after awhile. And I would just drink lots of hot liquids, teas all the time. Now I warm up for at least half an hour before I sing. I'll go through the vowels, you know, like (sings) A-E-I-O-U. I do weird things in my car that I don't know if I should tell you about. No, they're not like that. But I do strange things just to get my voice ready.
Was that something you weren't doing before?
Yeah. I mean, I was younger and I had that kind of cocky, bravado-ness to me. Where I'm like, my voice will withstand anything and I don't have to do anything to warm it up ... It was rough. I felt like I was injured.
Did you change your music style a little bit after that?
I don't really scream anymore. Through the warm-ups that I do and different stuff like that I've gained a whole different range in my voice. I have a much higher range now and it's great. I feel like I can be just as powerful without screaming. It was a blessing for that to happen to my voice 'cause I wouldn't have tried different kinds of music if it hadn't have happened.
What is your impression of the Las Cruces Music scene?
For seven years I've been doing this stuff and I've seen it go through different phases for sure. I've always felt that this scene has a huge potential to do something big, especially with the way Las Cruces is growing. I see kind of little flashes of its brilliance, but it doesn't seem to really take off the way I really feel it could. I think The Farm is great. Tucker is a real asset to the music scene. He's brought a lot of cool bands. And just when The Bean was going strong it seems like there'd be amazing touring bands just coming through every week. "Cause this is a good stop on the way from Phoenix and Tucson (Ariz.) to Austin (Texas) when bands are traveling to Texas on their little tours. So Cruces is a great stop for bands to just come in. It seems like they always have fun here and sell a lot of merchandise. We just recently played with this band from Salt Lake City, The Band of Annuals. They had a great time here. We played out at The Farm. It was just a really relaxed atmosphere and it's cool. This place has a great potential, it just seems that the venues just need to happen and then that would be it.
What time period inspires you that you would like to go back and be a part of?
I've always been a big fan of the grunge era, late "80s early "90s. I was too young to really appreciate it when it was in its heyday, but I'd give my left arm to have seen Nirvana live or The Pixies when they were in their heyday. I guess I could have seen them on their reunion stuff that they did, but it just would have been great when they were all young. That would have been cool.
How would you say your style is different today than when you first started performing?
Definitely, I've chilled out a little bit more and definitely appreciate melody more over volume. When I first started out I was just so angst-filled. I don't know where it came from. I just wanted to scream. I definitely had some wiggles to get out or something. But now, I really appreciate way more genres of music and just try to incorporate a lot more styles in the music.
- The Las Cruces Sun News Pulse


"Local band uses violins to get everything they want"

Violin doesn't usually have a place in rock music, but Las Cruces indie-popsters Alister M have made a place for it and are trying a few other things, too.
Alister M started in 2006 with vocalist/guitarist Steve MacIntyre. After making a name for himself playing in Las Cruces bands the Dead Rose Sinclair and Retsila Gem, MacIntyre started Alister M as an acoustic solo project.
In late 2007 MacIntyre decided to turn Alister M into a full-fledged band with a few more musicians. He drafted Janelle Borsberry for violins and vocals, Reed Elliott on bass and Justin McDonald on drums.
Alister M describe their sound as "comparable to Bright Eyes meeting Ben Kweller" with "strong male and female voices" and "powerful hooks." The band also cites '90s era grunge as a main influence.
With a full line-up and some songs under its belt, Alister M is consistently playing shows. Most recently they opened for Dear and the Headlights at Code Red on the Las Cruces stop of their tour. They have also shared the stage with Jim Ward of Sparta/At the Drive-in and played at this year's NMSU KRUX-Fest.
In addition to playing shows and writing material, Alister M spent the summer holed up in a recording studio in Phoenix, recording with engineer Sam Greene.
Once the tracks were recorded, MacIntyre didn't want them mixed by just anyone. He enlisted the expertise of Florida-based mixing engineer Mike Major, who has also produced, recorded and mixed albums for post-hardcore pioneers (and El Paso natives) At the Drive-in and Sparta.
MacIntyre was excited to get Major's expertise involved in the recording process, which might seem like a feat for a local band starting out. Luckily, the band had an in.
"[Major] is from here, so he is very kind to bands from this area," MacIntyre said. "I e-mailed him and asked him if he wanted to do it and he was game."
Major is currently finishing the mixes and the first track from the session, "Cotton Clouds," can be heard on the band's Myspace page.
MacIntyre told The Las Cruces Sun-News Pulse that he has grown as an artist since forming Alister M.
"I've chilled out a little bit more and definitely appreciate melody more over volume," MacIntyre said. "When I first started out I was just so angst-filled. I don't know where it came from. I just wanted to scream. But now, I really appreciate way more genres of music and just try to incorporate a lot more styles in the music."
Alister M's next show is Nov. 18 at El Patio in Mesilla with Canadian band Vicious Guns. For more information on Alister M, check www.myspace.com/alisterm. - The NMSU Round Up


Discography

Fuse and Function - 2007
The Year of Independence - 2008

Songs 'Chemical Fiction' and 'Astrological' have been listed at the top of college radio charts.

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Bio

Alister M formed in 2006 as the solo project of Steve MacIntyre. It wasn't until late 2007 when Steve brought on other members taking Alister M from a solo act to a full spectrum sound. At this time, they got asked to play with Jim Ward (frontman of Sparta) at club 101 in El Paso opening up for the El Paso native. Interest has sparked since then as Alister M has been asked to play in various cities and festivals such as KRUXfest, The Las Cruces college radio station music festival and The 2009 Vans Warped Tour Kevin Says Stage.
Alister M has been compared to the sounds of Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Red House Painters, Ben Kweller and Silverchair.