Alcoa started ten years ago while Archambault was on tour with one of his many bands. He’d found himself listening to more and more artists like Gram Parsons, Elliot Smith, and Johnny Cash and “…wanted so badly to be able to write songs like that. I didn’t know how to at all, but it didn’t stop me from trying and churning out a bunch of shitty songs that I was too afraid to sing. One day, while driving through Alcoa, TN, I decided on the name and started the process of figuring out how to not write a loud punk or four-chord jangly pop song”, Derek commented. He honed his writing skills, released a few demo recordings as Alcoa, then the project took the backseat to his other musical endeavors at the time.
Over the course of the next few years, Derek played various instruments in various bands before landing the role as vocalist for an up-and-coming band from Boston called Defeater. Since their inception in 2008, Defeater has been the main priority for Derek; the band has toured the U.S. and Europe several times over and have released three albums on indie powerhouse Bridge Nine Records. In 2011, Defeater released their landmark double LP Empty Days & Sleepless Nights, which features one album of punk/hardcore anthems, and another album that’s a 4-song acoustic effort that put a lot of emphasis on Derek’s actual singing ability. Derek went on to say, “Defeater had done an acoustic track on our first full-length, Travels, that was received really well by fans. Singing that song almost every night for two years, then releasing the acoustic album on Empty Days, definitely made me much more comfortable with my voice.” These things, coupled with inspiration to write and desire to record, gave Derek the confidence he needed to pursue Alcoa as a more serious undertaking. And throughout such a busy time on the road and writing and recording with Defeater, Derek took some time to get a few more demos done as Alcoa. He commented, “I’ve always tried to keep Alcoa stuff with me while on the road over the last ten or so years. Most recently, I sold the newest demo on the Defeater U.S. tour with Bane and along our European tour as well.” The last 4-song Alcoa demo was pressed onto a few hundred CD’s and sold out on the road, with the awareness and demand for more Alcoa music at an all-time high.