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OriginDublin, Ireland
GenresElectro music,[1] electropop[1]
Years active2001–2010
LabelsMagi Records[2][3]
MembersCatherine Dowling
Gerry Horan
Stevie Kavanagh
Graham Gilligan
Past membersMike O'Dowd

Alphastates were an Irish electro band from Dublin. The band consisted of lead vocalist and guitarist Catherine Dowling, guitarist Gerry Horan, bass guitarist Stevie Kavanagh and drummer Graham Gilligan. Former member and drummer Mike O'Dowd departed in 2008.

Alphastates released one extended play called Good Stuff (2003) and two albums: Made From Sand (2004) and Human Nature (2009). Human Nature was rerecorded before its release after the band expressed their unhappiness with the original record. Lead single "Champagne Glass" was a dance hit in New York City. During their existence they performed in the Phoenix Park and on Other Voices, as well as at music festivals such as Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Indie-pendence and the IMRO Showcase Tour.

Alphastates remained active until 2010 before being "pulled in different directions".



The band's style was described in such terms as "dark", "delicious" and "grand".[4] Their influences included Édith Piaf, Joy Division, Billie Holiday, Portishead, Nina Simone, Tom Waits and Sonic Youth.[4][5] Vocalist Catherine Dowling has been compared to both Beth Gibbons and Shirley Manson and called "a lady with the most evocative vocals in Irish music".[4][6] Each member contributed to the songwriting process during the band's existence.[1]



The band formed in 2001,[7] beginning their existence as Babelfish.[5][8] They changed their name to Alphastates in June 2003, with one of their first shows under that name occurring at that year's Witnness.[9] As Babelfish they appeared on EmBraces, a 2003 double album of acoustic tracks featuring various Irish and international artists.[10] As Alphastates they toured with The Beta Band, Deus, Cat Power, Mercury Rev, Sinéad O'Connor and Zero 7.[4] They performed at major European music festivals, including Electric Picnic and Oxegen in their native country.[4] Their music has also featured in films,[4] including one from Belgium.[11]

A July 2003 Hot Press review of a live performance observed how Alphastates "manage to pull off a small triumph" with Dowling's vocals "still remain[ing] their most unique selling point, but they refuse to let themselves become dwarfed by the expanse of the space and even manage a stab at dry-ice-assisted dramatics".[12] In December that year they released the Good Stuff EP, with Hot Press noting "the attention to detail. Every sound has been meticulously, lovingly crafted; every twist, turn, modulation and crescendo plotted with extreme precision, and, in places, to startling effect".[13] The band's debut album, titled Made From Sand, was released in 2004.[1] RTÉ reviewer Ray Donoghue noted their "ability to incorporate electronic music seamlessly into a mix that will please most ears", while Hot Press said: "It's as sexy as fuck".[2][14] The song Angel Kiss was a huge internet hit. At this time critics considered Alphastates "one of the most underrated bands on the Irish music scene" as the scene was not as interested in their electronic sound at this time, a contrast to when they released their second album.[1][8] They performed on Oxegen's Green Room stage in July 2004, and on 11 December 2004 Alphastates recorded a performance for the third series of Other Voices in Dingle which was broadcast on RTÉ Two early the following year.[15] On 4 September 2004 the band performed at the sellout 02 In The Park event held in the Phoenix Park.[16][17]

The band performed during the IMRO Showcase Tour in Dublin on 4 April 2008.[18] That year also saw the departure of their drummer Mike O'Dowd after the birth of a baby.[5] They played at several music festivals such as that year's Indie-pendence and Electric Picnic 2008 and their music featured on Hot Press's free 16-track Un-Laoised: Irish Acts At Electric Picnic 2008 CD.[5][19][20][21]

After recording their second album Human Nature Alphastates were not happy and began working on it again from the beginning.[5][6][22] During this process Dowling obtained a node in her larynx and subsequently lost her voice for a time.[1][23] Glen Hansard assisted by directing the band to his voice coach who restored the missing voice.[1] The completed album was released in April 2009.[4][8] entertainment.ie's Jenny Mulligan gave Human Nature four out of five stars and said it showed the band could "delve further into the realm of danceable pop music [...] If only more Irish bands had this kind of range".[8] Alan Jacques of the Limerick Independent described Human Nature as "one of the best albums of the year".[4] Hot Press called it "an inventive respite from blog-standard guitar-driven formulaic rock".[22] Human Nature was included in Joe Kavanagh's "Top Twenty Irish Albums Of 2009" compiled for The Irish Examiner USA.[24] The band planned to release the record to markets in the UK and US.[1][4] The singles "Champagne Glass", "Human Nature" and "You Talked I Can Tell" were released from the album.[3] Lead single "Champagne Glass" attracted much interest from dancers in New York City and Arveene and Misk offered to remix it after hearing it.[4][5]

Alphastates performed their final show at Whelan's in Dublin on 18 February 2010.[6][25] They later talked about their decision to split in an interview with Hot Press, saying "we're all being pulled in different directions now [...] We all need to express ourselves through our music and were always passionate about what we did. In the end, we didn't feel so passionate and felt it only fair and right to send the angel to bed".[26]

Dowling was absorbed with taking care of her newly born daughter, although expressed interest in releasing a solo album in future.[26] During the final months of the band's existence she had been heavily pregnant during performances.[27] Horan contributed to numerous soundtracks.[26] Kavanagh still plays music with The Rags.[26]



Former members

  • Mike O'Dowd — Drums[5]



Alphastates released one extended play and two albums.

  • Good Stuff EP (2003)
  • Made From Sand (2004)
  • Human Nature (2009)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h John Walshe (20 April 2009). "Alphastates interview plus State / Club AU ticket giveaway". State. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b Ray Donoghue (25 June 2004). "Alphastates - Made From Sand". RTÉ. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Alphastates - single and tour". Hot Press. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2010. The single will be released on Magi records and will feature their two previous singles, 'Human Nature' and 'Champagne Glass'.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Alan Jacques (May 20, 2009). "Alphastates go pop on their new record". Limerick Independent. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Jenny Mulligan (14 April 2009). "Interview with Alphastates". entertainment.ie. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "Alphastates very last gig!". Hot Press. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010. Alphastates generated serious acclaim for both their live shows and their two albums, not least for Catherine Dowling's dynamic vocals that had her compared to Shirley Manson and Beth Gibbons. Their determination and commitment were evident in their decision to scrap the entire recording of their second album Human Nature and start again from scratch.
  7. ^ "Irish Music Central". Irish Music Central. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d Jenny Mulligan (27 April 2009). "Alphastates: Human Nature". entertainment.ie. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Stating their case". Hot Press. 5 June 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  10. ^ John Walshe (7 July 2003). "EmBraces". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Let's get the party started". Hot Press. 3 December 2004. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010. During 2004, Alphastates moved from the fringes of the local indie scene to the status of serious contenders on a national scale. As we sipped our pints, singer Catherine Dowling enthused about the band's new-found drive and confidence. "We suddenly realised we can do this," she said, pondering their growing success. Not all that surprising a realisation, given that David Holmes has been on the phone asking to do a remix, and a nice lump-sum was recently deposited for their work on the soundtrack to a Belgian film.
  12. ^ "States of the art". Hot Press. 14 July 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Good Stuff EP". Hot Press. 2 December 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2010. The first thing you notice about Alphastates' Good Stuff EP is the attention to detail. Every sound has been meticulously, lovingly crafted; every twist, turn, modulation and crescendo plotted with extreme precision, and, in places, to startling effect (namely the sultry of 'Good Stuff', punctuated by spiky guitars and light, airy vocal harmonies).
  14. ^ "Alphastates - Made From Sand". Hot Press. 30 March 2004. Retrieved 20 February 2010. The first string to their well-crafted bow is the startlingly unique vocal style of Catherine Dowling. Delivered in a strangely emotional and engaging, yet nonchalent way, Dowling's vocals are breathy, catching in her throat as she delivers knowing and worldly tales about kissing girls and the like. It's as sexy as fuck.
  15. ^ "Oxegen running order - Sunday". Hot Press. 9 July 2004. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  16. ^ "Westlife SOLD OUT". Hot Press. 24 August 2004. Retrieved 20 February 2010. Also confirmed to play at this year's free but already fully subscribed bash are Blue, Girls Aloud, Bellefire, Aslan, Picturehouse, Mickey Harte, George Murphy, Mark Geary, Mundy, Alphastates, Chris Doran and The Shades.
  17. ^ "Top artists descend on Dingle for Other Voices". Hot Press. 22 November 2004. Retrieved 20 February 2010. Dingle becomes party spot central this month as some of Ireland's leading musical lights descend on St. James' Church for the third series of Other Voices, Songs From A Room. The live action, which is being filmed by RTÉ2 for early 2005 broadcast, stacks up as follows: Friday December 3 – Saso & Declan O'Rourke [...] Saturday 11 – Alphastates, Ben Christopher & Donal Lunny and Roisin Elsafty
  18. ^ "IMRO announce showcase acts". Hot Press. 21 March 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  19. ^ "The Blizzards among acts for Indie-Pendence '08". Hot Press. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 2 March 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010. The first batch of acts to be confirmed for the Indie-Pendence Festival '08 – which takes place from August 1 to 3 – are The Blizzards, Cathy Davey, Ham Sandwich, The Flaws, The Chapters, Dirty Epics, Alphastates and Travega.
  20. ^ "Gemma Hayes, Giveamanakick for Indie-Pendence '08". Hot Press. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  21. ^ "Hot Press Electric Picnic special and Un-Laoised CD on their way". Hot Press. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2010. It features The Flaws, Dark Room Notes, Alphastates, Ronan O Snodaigh, Mark Geary, Kormac, One Day International, Boss Volenti, Rollers/Sparkers, Autamata, Kila, Vyvienne Long, Adrian Crowley, Chequerboard, The Japanese Popstars and Fish Go Deep with Tracey K. Phew!
  22. ^ a b "Alphastates: Human Nature". Hot Press. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2010. Completed and then redone entirely from scratch, this is Alphastates' follow-up to their ground-breaking debut, and it confirms them as a major creative force, an inventive respite from blog-standard guitar-driven formulaic rock. Singer Catherine Dowling's presence throughout is a revelation, evoking memories of Shirley Manson and Beth Gibbons, but with a flexibility that challenges both.
  23. ^ Anne Sexton (24 April 2009). "State Expectations". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 February 2010. "Life is what happens when you're making other plans," notes Catherine Dowling. This includes the not insignificant fact that Alphastate's singer lost her voice. "I had a node in my larynx and I had no voice basically. We'd been doing a lot of gigging and I had loads of damage and the specialist said 'I think you're kinda screwed.' Then with natural repair and I did some alternative therapies and got my voice back."
  24. ^ Joe Kavanagh (15 December 2009). "Top Twenty Irish Albums Of 2009 (Part 1)". The Irish Examiner USA. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  25. ^ "Alphastates Announce Last Ever Gig". Ireland.com. Retrieved 12 February 2010. [dead link]
  26. ^ a b c d "Alphastates explain split". Hot Press. 29 January 2010. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  27. ^ Steve O'Rourke (27 April 2009). "Oliver Cole, Alphastates & Others (live in Radio City, Dublin)". CLUAS. Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.