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Vegas four-piece Alaska takes a break after a hectic 18-month swing

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Alaska vows to return after its upcoming hiatus.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Las Vegas post-hardcore outfit Alaska has announced that it will go on an indefinite hiatus soon after the band’s gig on December 2. Or in the band’s words, take “a big nap.”

“The point is just to recharge a little bit and write some really good music and get back in touch with regular life. It sounds weird to be like, ‘Oh, I want to be home and go jogging,’ but it’s really cool to do that sometimes,” frontman Joel Kirschenbaum says when we meet up at Atomic Liquors. “In the last year and a half of touring nonstop, we just haven’t had a lot of time to be home and focus on regular stuff like working a job and hanging out with our families.”

The four-piece—Kirschenbaum (vocals/guitar), Tyler Kawada (vocals/bass/trumpet), Cody Furin (guitar) and Nick Strader (drums)—has been together more than five years, since the guys met in high school. Alaska’s extended staycation comes after an 18-month run that included five separate tours, more than 100 shows and performances in nine different countries, including the U.K., Germany, Belgium, France and the Czech Republic.

Not exactly the same scene from the band’s very first tour, during its members’ senior year. “We had to send itineraries of all the shows to our parents. We were in Tyler’s mom’s truck and put gear in a U-Haul,” Kirschenbaum says. “[But] we’ve been really persistent. The end game for us was to go to Europe or Japan or somewhere crazy.”

Alaska knocked that last bit off its bucket list after playing a “historical cabaret speakeasy” in Toronto, where Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix once played. Over the years, the group has also survived getting T-boned by a truck while on tour in Florida, completed a successful GoFundMe campaign to pay for damaged gear, played numerous festivals and put out two full-length albums, 2013’s Everything Is Fine and 2015’s Shrine. Now it’s time to press pause.

“That’s where this show comes into play,” says Kirschenbaum of the upcoming gig at Layla’s Palace Banquet Hall, which might be followed by an all-Killers covers set, if Facebook is to be believed. “We knew we wanted to do a last show before we just stopped playing, and I feel like having this narrative behind it gives people a little perspective … if we don’t play a show for three months or five months or a year.”

He’s quick to add that it’s not goodbye forever, though. “We want to write new music, but we don’t want to just get back into the same cycle that we’re trying to relax from. We’re going to relax and be human.”

Alaska With Special-K, Blessed, Spokes, Twin Cities. December 2, 7 p.m., $8-$10. Layla’s Palace Banquet Hall, 3430 E. Tropicana Ave. #34, alaskanv.bandcamp.com.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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