Creating visceral, bone-shakingly raw rock are The Amazons.
After a Summer full of festival appearances and time in the studio adding the finishing touches to their debut album, an Autumn spent doing the rounds on both headline and supporting tours around the country alongside a legion of dedicated fans, it’s not too surprising that The Amazons are tipped to be one of 2017’s biggest breakthrough rock acts. Recently nominated for a string of awards and some of the most hotly-contested new music lists, the four “extremely strange” (their description, not ours) boys from Reading are a rock force not to be messed with.
Relentless, visceral and shaking, their melodic rock – full of monstrous riffs that we’re convinced could shatter bone if played loud enough – is taken to a higher level in their most recent tracks “Little Something” (“It’s a predatory lyric based around the hunt for an obsession that’s out of reach, and then in the darkness and failure of reaching it, finding yourself becoming something you’re not,”) and “In My Mind”, giving us a hint as to what their roaring debut album will unleash upon us.
The Amazons infuse melodic guitars from Chris Alderton and pounding drums – it’s tough to find a contemporary rock drummer that’s quite as loud as Joe Emmett – with a darkness inspired by the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. Heavy and primal, with simmering basslines from Elliott Briggs and energy as fiery as frontman Matt Thomson’s hair, The Amazon’s crushing contemporary rock is one to blow out your speakers to.
How would you describe your sound?
We like music that’s visceral and exciting but also melodic. Zane Lowe described a track on Radio 1 years ago as having ’emotional urgency’. If we have any of those qualities in our music, we’d be happy.
What made you settle on the name The Amazons?
It was inspired by a book I found on my bookshelf and read, “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. Pretty inoffensive little book but the Amazons part of the book’s title made me imagine there must have been a classic rock and roll band from the 70s or something called The Amazons. I was wrong, thankfully, so we took the name.
What’s your writing process like?
It feels like a traditional process to me, as traditional as a strange thing like songwriting can be. I’ll usually give birth to the idea of the song alone at home or wherever, then bring it to the band where we’ll thrash it out into something we can record and have fun playing live. Some songs survive, most don’t.
How has your approach to music and your sound changed since forming The Amazons?
I definitely feel we’re on a path with our sound. We haven’t arrived at any final point yet and maybe we never will. It would be a nightmare for us to have our 3rd album sounding just like the 1st. I think the most noticeable difference in our sound so far is how heavy and dark our most recent output is compared to when we first started. It’s never pre-meditated; I think it’s just a mixture of what we’ve been listening to seeping into our sound and purely what has been most fun to play in the rehearsal room.
From the perspective of an up-and-coming band, how has social media and the internet influenced your growth?
It’s been huge. We’ve been able to paint our own picture, tell our own story in a way I don’t think we would’ve been able to do 20-30 years ago. It’s 2016, the reality is that the visual aspect of what we do has never been bigger, we can’t change that so we’ve been embracing it.
“I hope that there are songs on the record that will surprise people. We’ve always loved records with a lot of different sides so I’d like to think we’ve achieved that.”
You played some of the best festivals this summer – how does playing a festival differ from playing a normal gig, and which do you prefer?
We love both for different reasons. Festivals are more of a ‘do or die’ situation which can really exciting. There’s no sound check, we may be playing to a field of people who don’t know who we are, but growing up going to Reading Festival every year reminds you of the magic that can only happen at festivals. You’re more in control of your own shows so it’s a different buzz.
What kind of energy do you each bring to the group and what’s the group dynamic like?
We’re all extremely strange in our own ways. I have no idea how we seem to work together but it’s going ok so far. I guess me and Joe are the louder characters in the group, Elliot and Chris are the quieter ones but have a completely batshit crazy side.
You’ve been recording your debut album! What can you tell us about it? What have we got to look forward to?
It’s virtually finished! We recorded it with Catherine Marks at an amazing studio called Assault and Battery in Willesden, London, in April. Spent the summer mixing it with her when we weren’t out playing festivals. I hope that there are songs on the record that will surprise people. We’ve always loved records with a lot of different sides so I’d like to think we’ve achieved that. It gets dark and heavy but also a lot more intimate at times.
All your videos and artwork have a very particular aesthetic – where do the ideas come from and how do you get across your vibe?
It’s something we’re still trying to evolve. Right at the beginning we set up a Tumblr page to post all the photos we were shooting with our phones and Chris’s Dad’s old film camera. We knew we wanted to paint our own picture and tell our own story so we only posted images we’d created. A little bit later we started working with a friend of ours Matt Goff, who was shooting stuff down his skate park and we started to collaborate. He’s been a huge part of what we do, he’s like our 5th member.
You’ve just come off tour, and you’re going on another one soon! What are your favourite things about touring and playing live? Any wild tour bus stories?
Aye we love the road! Our favourite thing is playing the show, which seems to the one thing you spend the least amount of time on. Least favourite thing is all the countless hours we spend in our bust up little van ‘Big Suze’. Nothing too wild I think we’re just quite calamitous. We were in Glasgow and Joe accidentally shut our guitarist Chris’s fingers in the big sliding van doors. Fair play to Chris he carried on the rest of the tour that week with two fingers.
Matt – how do you get your hair so shiny?
Haha. My secret is to wash the hair once a week with one of those Lush shampoo bars. Then just let nature take its course.