Interview: The Amazons on their plans for world domination in 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Photo - Kristy Smolcic

Currently gearing up for the release of their highly anticipated sophomore album, The Amazons, who are one of the UK's most prominent rock bands right now, have been working hard. Whilst in Austin for SXSW, we caught up with three-quarters of The Amazons to dive into 'Mother', their new album and why they should visit Australia ASAP.

What have you guys been up to in Texas?

Matt: It’s been wicked, it’s been really fun. We were just at the Texas Music Museum out of town, around an hour away and that was really cool. We got a real sense of, not only the artists that you would know about like Janus Joplin or Buddy Holly but also the German immigrants and their influence on classical music, and then went into Western Swing, a bit of Ragtime, and the gospel stuff.
Joe: This guy, bless him, that was running it, I don’t think much people visit it because he was telling us everything Texas related and music related.
Matt: It was wicked.
Joe: Yeah, it was so good.
Matt: Now we feel like we’ve had a taste of what Austin is all about and we’re excited to play at Lucille's (Australia House) tonight.
Joe: We’re two gigs in on our SXSW journey now and we feel warmed up.

You’ve played a bit overseas now, right?

Matt: Yeah, we have.

I actually saw you guys around a year ago in Tokyo, and it was a really interesting experience. What’s it like for you when you're playing in front of people who aren’t native English speakers? 

Matt: I think it’s really interesting to see how the music transcends cultures and languages. I couldn’t speak Japanese, but they certainly understood rock and roll, they definitely understood a drum solo (laughs). To be fair, they might not be fluent in English, but they were singing the words back to us in English. It was just fun, it’s the best bit about it. We’ve toured the hell out of England and it’s amazing, and it has a different kind of enjoyment, but going abroad and trying new things, meeting new people and going on new adventures is the best thing about it all, I think. We were saying earlier, yesterday actually, it’s amazing where something as simple as music can take us whilst sitting around a quiet suburb in Austin.
Joe: Yeah, just looking out onto the road as cars were driving past, just going “this is crazy”.
Matt: We’ve gone from playing in Seoul, Korea to here, it’s crazy man.
Joe: It’s good.
Matt: It’s sick. I love it.
Joe: It’s like a huge gap year (laughs).
Matt: Yeah (laughs).
Joe: It’s a lifelong gap year, basically.
Matt: It’s like a summer vacation forever

Photo - Kristy Smolcic

Getting to take what you love to places as far as Japan or Korea is a pretty cool thing to do.

Matt: It’s like people’s annual holiday, but you do it all in one year. The music takes us through a different way of travelling.
Chris: I kinda like it as well because it’s not so much that you’re choosing where to go somewhere, the music is choosing where you go.
Matt: 100 per cent.
Chris: There’s something quite fairytale-esque about that, I think.
Matt: When turning up to a country, or like here, it’s not all about relaxing or chilling out like a normal holiday like tourists, there’s a purpose for being here, and that we're supposed to be here because people want to hear the music, and like Chris said, they choose where you go, we don’t choose where to go. Because there are places where we would love to go.
Joe: Like Australia.
Matt: But they haven’t chosen us yet.

I was about to ask that, you obviously want to come to Australia, right??

Matt: Of course.
Joe: God yeah.
Chris: Yeah.
Matt: We hear so much about Melbourne in particular from our producer Catherine, who we worked with on the last album and the new one, Catherine Marks, she’s based in London, but she’s a really proud Aussie. So we want to come over.
Joe: Can we put on record that she’s a bogan?
Matt: (Laughs) yeah, she’s a massive bogan. She would love that. We listen to so much music from Australia, Tame Impala is a big one.
Joe: And AC/DC.
Matt: There’s so much music that comes out of Australia, and so much good rock and roll, like Wolfmother was great.
Joe: Yeah Wolfmother were sick.
Matt: JET too, Courtney Barnett as well.

Photo - Kristy Smolcic

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of good ones! 

And you literally just dropped the video for ‘Mother’, it’s a great one by the way. How did it come together? 

Matt: Thanks. Well, we always wanted to explore animated videos and we’ve always been inspired by the likes of Tame Impala. We felt like this song was the one that gave us more licence to go to different places and do different things creatively and it was the only thing that could match the sonics of the record. It was quite the journey and a really big learning curve and I think ultimately, we ended up with something really cool.
Joe: Stephen Agnew has done a great job with putting it together with all our hissy fits with changing tiny bits (laughs). It wasn’t like a normal video where you just change or cut a shot of someone, because it’s all hand-drawn and animation and changing one bit takes so long to do if we wanted to change it.
Matt: We literally had an animator and a good artist involved.
Joe: It feels like we didn’t do anything like that on the last album or the last campaign as well. And coming back with ‘Mother’ and doing something as different as an animated video felt like the right thing to do.
Matt: It definitely felt like the right thing. This time around, more than the first record, we have been exploring artwork, different artists and creative directions a lot more. Even on tour posters, there are so many dimensions and depth that you achieve using other people’s eyes and their interpretations of music so I think that’s something that we will explore a bit more.

Are you still working on the second album?

Matt: It’s all done.

So it's all finished? That’s exciting. 

Matt: Yeah, all finished, it's all ready to go. It’s been mastered, it's in the boxes
Joe: The artwork is complete, which didn’t we sign that off yesterday?
Matt: Yeah that’s all done too, signed that all off. We’re very excited. We’re just going through the lyrics to make sure there are no typos in them, all the fun stuff. I think we’re going to drop it a lot sooner than people think.

How long did it take to put together?

Matt: So the writing for the first couple of songs was at the end of 2017, right at the end, November 2017.
Joe: ‘Mother’ was the first.
Matt: Yeah, ‘Mother’ was the first, it was one of the first tunes. It took a long time to finish, these things generally do, in terms of the lyrics and the melody and trying to work out how it fits together. I think a lot of the lyrics were written at the same time because you can’t work out what to say until the very end (laughs). So that was a year’s worth of writing and it was the end of 2017 and we were in the studio in November and we were done by Christmas. Compared to the first album, it was such a quick turnaround and that was a really interesting experience for us. You get the opportunity to consider themes and cohesiveness that you wouldn’t have before, so it’s all done at the same time. It’s lyrically, essentially, my 2018, and my experiences with that. On a really personal level but also on a broader sense. I wouldn’t say it was overly negative, it was just a confusing time and there was a lot of turbulence I guess, and a lot of uncertainty. I think that’s reflected in the lyrics, not sonically, I think we’re very certain that we like the music, and we’re very certain that it’s rock and roll, and we really believe in the songs. It was an interesting time to be writing lyrics personally, because if you’re talking about relationships and how a lot of it is conducted on your phone, and then when you dive deeper into the phone thing we’re looking at broader aspects and stuff naturally, whether it’s the right thing or how much social media affects the way we conduct our relationships.

Photo - Kristy Smolcic

Sounds like the next album is going to be another hit! 

Matt: I hope so.

So when you guys wrap up here in Austin, what’s coming up? Do you put much consideration into music after album two is released?

Joe: We’ve got BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in May.
Matt: Another single is going to come out in the next month and a bit.
Joe: More music, more playing.
Matt: We’re going to be playing a lot of festivals, Reading and Leeds, so more UK stuff, and go to Europe, and do a tour at the end of the year.
Joe: Then it’s Christmas again.
Matt: Whoa, then it’s Christmas (laughs). We’ll carry on writing, really. It was a different process for the last one. The first album felt like an end of a chapter and the end of an era, but I think this one more than ever, the second album feels like the start of something for me. It feels like the start of a journey. I felt like there was a wall that we had to push through, and now with the second album, as individuals and as a band, it’s been more of a creative journey exploring new music and exploring different sounds and then feeding that into us as musicians. There were a lot of songs that we didn’t have time to finish, so before there’s another album, I feel like there will be more music. The thing about releasing music in 2019 with all the streaming services that control how we listen to music I think that should dominate the way we release music, and I don’t see this band waiting another two years to put out an album
Joe: Being archaic in album cycles is waiting two years.
Matt: We’ve got stuff to go after the album, so I don’t see the point in waiting around.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)
Photos by Kristy Smolcic 

(Live photos were from The Amazon's set at SXSW during their showcase at the British Music Embassy on March 16)