Scalping (NOW Scaler): “I don’t know if this band would have existed somewhere else”

Some bands are distinctly embedded in the place they call home. Scalping, from underrated UK cultural hub Bristol, are one such band. Drawing heavily on the city’s local scene, Scalping fall somewhere between a swirling rock band and an instrumental techno act, drawing influences from scenes like metal-evolved ArcTanGent Festival to the vibrant local dance scene, and dabbling heavily in an artistic side that lights up their live performances. This month, they play their first ever Irish show.

“The songs that we play in our set, 70-80% are different to the recorded versions, especially for album tracks,” Alex Hill, who performs the band’s more electronic angles, explains. “We work out what’s working and not working, usually before we record the album, but as this one was recorded during Covid we did that process in reverse.”

“The show used to be very improvised. Now that we’ve got more recorded songs that people might be familiar with, we do stick closer to the parts and structures. We do push and pull sections that we recorded and move stuff around, but there’s not so much improvising melodies. Before we released the ‘Flood’ EP, we felt like we had the freedom to almost make it up.”

The live set up is, to say the least, propulsive. “Once we start up live, we don’t stop,” Hill explains, “so if something goes wrong or you ruin the flow, you have to save it on the fly. So we have scaled it down, but it’s still there.”

“Bristol is such a small city that you know everyone making music with anything in common with yours,” Hill says. “You end up all being friends. It has benefits and downsides. I don’t know if this band would have existed everywhere else, the majority of the music that influences Scalping, we only discovered by living in Bristol.”

“I mainly listen to pop music and hip-hop, so we’re not pure underground heads, but there’s so much amazing underground stuff, so many labels, that there’s a Bristol sound system that plays so heavily into what we do. Liberty Sounds was a big one for us, even the acts that aren’t from Bristol kind of connect to our sound. We use the city as a lens to feed our music through.”