Joel Huckfield caught up with the band before their gig at Thekla in Bristol.
Nottingham-based quintet Amber Run are currently on tour at the moment having played eleven different venues around the UK, in which includes main support slot shows with Kodaline. I met up with Joe Keogh (Guitar/Vocals) and Henry Wyeth (Keys) from the band for a chat before their show at Thekla about their tour so far, starting out in Nottingham, and working with Mike Crossey on their debut album.
Hello chaps, thanks a lot to take time out for the interview. Firstly, how’s the tour treating you so far?
Joe Keogh (Guitar/Vocals): Not at all man, yeah the tour has been really, really fun. Obviously the Kodaline leg was bit different from what we were use to – we did the whole UK leg of the tour played Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London to 4,000 people every night. Pretty mad man, but other than the tour has been really good to us.
In three words how would you classify your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
Henry Wyeth (Keys): Cinematic, rock and a bit of pop sensibility thrown in. It’s more than three words, but there we are!
I see you started out in Nottingham, with other emerging artists such as London Grammar forming in Nottingham and other home-grown talent emerging. How integral do you feel the music scene was there for you, to now be able to play on tours like this, and also playing support slots to other big artists?
Joe: It didn’t necessarily help us with the support slots but the scene is wicked. As a base it was very good early on – it has a close-knit music scene and everyone pushes each other to be better. It’s a good place to play and write music!
Henry: The radio station in Nottingham, BBC Introducing, is really, really strong. Dean Jackson has got a good ear for new music!
I bet the Contemporary Nottingham show felt like a sort of homecoming sort of show for you then?
Joe: Was really nice man, good to see friends and new faces!
Henry: First time we played Nottingham this year, the time before that was at Bodega in October, so it had been a while.
In less than year, you went from playing your fourth gig at Reading Festival, to getting a major label deal, Radio One airplay, TV exposure and more than 100,000 views on YoutTube as well being tipped as ‘Nottingham’s answer to Coldplay’. How do you cope with that sort of pressure? Do you feel it’s taken off pretty quickly for you?
Joe: Oh man yeah, its been a good year. We still have a lot of hard work to do we’re nowhere near where we wanna be yet. Like a year and a half a go, I would have bitten your arm off if you asked me to headline main stage at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham! But now, we started moving forward and everything with the label, the goal posts are changing. Just trying to enjoy the success at the moment and not dwell on it too much.
With dropping out of uni to concentrate on the band time full-time, what would you have been doing if you didn’t have dropped out? Be in full-time work?
Henry: I never considered music as a career; I know Joe is different as he would be a songwriter. I really don’t know though, I don’t like to think about it!
Joe: I think a lot of people were thinking about teaching. We might have to get a job you don’t know we’re just enjoying what we’re doing at the moment. I probably would be involved in music in some way.
Especially in tracks such as ‘Noah’, you seem to have a very atmospheric sound going on, whilst showing a spirit that reminds of the sounds like Coldplay. The chorus reminds me very much of a contemporary artist at the moment such as Bastille. Are there any influences that contribute to the band’s sound particularly?
Joe: I love Coldplay; they’re very much my favourite band! Bastille, I don’t listen to them loads – I found it very difficult when people get up in arms about Bastille and the deep rooted cynicism they just hate it for the sake of hating it, it really gets to me. But no, Coldplay are wicked, for someone to tell me that we sound something like Coldplay is an absolute treat so thank you.
Henry: First time we met we talked about Coldplay. I don’t listen to Bastille personally, but you can’t disagree with their success. I’ve been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, we go through cycles with music. Being on tour we don’t have an opportunity to sit down and listen to a lot of music though.
Joe: At the moment, that new Real Estate album is wicked, Coldplay’s new album I’m looking forward to, and I’m really digging Catfish and the Bottlemen too. I generally just fall asleep in the van and wake up at soundcheck so don’t have enough time to listen to music at the minute!
I’ve listened to your EP and it sounds great, I’ve also seen you’ve been working with Mike Crossey, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys for many years and worked on the critically acclaimed 1975’s record. What was it like working with him, did he influence the album’s sound a lot?
Joe: Probably not beforehand, but he was involved in projects before that influenced pretty much everyone.
Henry: Like, Arctic Monkeys are my favourite band of all time, and he’s done a lot of work with them over the years, although wasn’t a case of sitting and listening his work, but just his knowledge and presence was a big influence for the album.
Joe: It’s amazing that he wanted to get involved in the project. He wanted to spent a month out of his life to get into the project, we’re still such a young band so his pedigree gave us the confidence.
Having released your EP to date and receiving acclaim for your sound, what can we expect from the debut is it more of the same from the EP? Do you have any surprises on it to fans?
Joe: It’s changed up man; we’ve only been a band for about year, we’re still developing our sound all the time during the EP we were listening to a lot of folk – the intimacy, four part harmonies is integral to what we do. What we’ve done on the album is a lot left field; we started doing some sample stuff, and just generally given stuff ago, as we never had that opportunity before as the equipment is just too expensive. I’m just super proud of it man and can’t wait for people to hear it!
Henry: It wasn’t experimentation for the sake of it, it just naturally came about. One song was originally a piano ballad but it took a complete whole new image.
Do you have a name for your forthcoming LP? What sort of date can we expect to see it in all shops and retailers?
Henry: We don’t actually have a name! Aha.
Joe: Were not very good at that thing, probably leave it quite late!
Henry: It’s expected at the end of the year basically…
Joe: Very ambiguous the exact date is though!
Following on from the popularity of bands like Kodaline and Bastille, you seem to fit pretty nicely within that bands and isn’t surprising to see the successful of your EP’s so far. How far do you think you’ve progressed as musicians since you first formed and recorded those EP’s? Is there any scope for you to like to experiment with your sound in the future?
Joe: We’ve progressed so far man! Tom hadn’t picked up a bass until the first show we played! That’s a pretty extreme example. In terms of musicianship, we’ve all become so much better – that just becomes better from touring. In terms of writing, we are just open to new things and not just keep it the same all the time. We just derive and enjoy what we are doing at the moment; it’s all just fun at the moment. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, it’s not all done yet!
Henry: I’ve never been taught keys – a steep learning curve, as I’ve never had lessons!
Finally, it’s the last gig of the tour… What’s been your favourite moment of the tour so far?
Joe: It’s generally just a blur! It’s difficult, I could probably answer that question properly tomorrow and tell you!
Henry: Brixton – playing to 4,000 people is amazing. The intimate moments though, like the Brighton show for example, was just a sweatbox in which people got into it, which is a real moment!
Joe: There was a show in Cambridge that not many people came that was pretty empty, it felt like a change, but not in an arrogant way – all the other shows felt like we were just playing to loads of people, not faceless but with this show you’re looking into people’s individual eyes which is nice, is basically what I’m saying.
Read the review of their gig here: http://www.westerneye.net/music-entertainment/2014/04/i-noah-a-good-band-amber-run/