Interview: What Rock 'n' Roll Means to The Amazons

Monday, September 9, 2019
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Across their journey as a band, The Amazons have always prioritised authenticity above anything else, including keeping the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive. At the end of their whirlwind trip to Australia and their first visit to our shores, we sat down with the band to talk about their sophomore album Future Dust and why rock ‘n’ roll is (and always will be) part of their fabric.

Many bands have been haunted by the curse of the ‘sophomore blues’, but you can’t count The Amazons as part of that group. Their latest record Future Dust showcases a more polished and evolved sound than anything they’ve ever shared before — it’s gritty and abrasive, yet lyrically reflective and contemplative. It’s a record the band have always been capable of creating, but growth was necessary first.

The band admits that despite feeling confident about the place that they were taking their new music, they did feel an undeniable sense of pressure. “There was a huge amount of pressure that we put on ourselves,” said frontman Matt Thomson, “We’re not in the studio all of the time, so when we are in there, we want to make a record that we want to make.” Drummer Joe Emmett also added that both time and budgeting can increase the amount of pressure you can feel when creating a record.

Thomson, who is also the band’s lyricist, channels darker times on Future Dust, whether it’s the pressures of social media and being online or other internal battles. But for Thomson, he felt like he was able to capture what was happening in his mind in a way that he didn’t on their debut album. “We were able to channel the themes of the record sonically and lyrically in a way we didn’t on the first record,” he said.

Three Cliffs Bay, which is outside of Swansea in Wales, became their home for approximately a month when they were working on the album. “Because we had been touring a lot over the last couple of years, we needed to get back into the groove of writing and creating together,” said Thomson. The past few years have seen the band travel to places as far as Japan and South Korea, to the US, as well as touring regularly and consistently around the UK and Europe. The unsettling nature of life on the road and touring isn’t always the best environment to work on music, so Three Cliffs Bay provided them with a space to explore what they wanted to achieve on the album without any distractions.

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An important step for them was to sit down as a band and listen to music together. “We got really interested in blues and early rock ‘n’ roll,” said Thomson, “There’s a spirit in that music that we weren’t hearing in modern music or our contemporaries.” The band aren’t ever afraid of making the music that they want to make. Their decision to remain authentic to themselves is one of the many reasons why their fans love them.

Despite being inspired by the sounds that came before them, the record is very much their own and their own identity remains at the forefront — and for The Amazons, it’s something that comes naturally to them. “Even if we try our hardest to be something else, we’d still sound like ourselves because that’s just the way we make music. You listen to music and become inspired by it and let that bleed, soak it up, and regurgitate it. Though it’s been a couple of years since the first record, we haven’t completely changed. I think we’ve grown as people and as artists,” Thomson said. If the band infused any influences that they were listening to during the process of working on the record, it didn’t happen consciously according to Thomson.

Spending time away from Reading was important for the band, with Thomson admitting that he prefers writing outside of their hometown. “I don’t like writing in Reading. I don’t like writing there as there’s nothing to capture — there’s no fuel to the fire there,” he said. Emmett, also added that before spending time away, they barely had any songs, so being away fuelled them to begin the record together. The seclusion of Three Cliffs Bay pushed them to get back into the swing of things as there wasn’t much else for them to do there except create music.

In today’s musical landscape, many bands are afraid of creating authentic rock ‘n’ roll, but for The Amazons, the genre represents everything that they stand for as a band. Emmett said, “For us, rock ‘n’ roll is more about attitude as opposed to just sonics. Our latest album has heavier tendencies than the first one because that’s what we enjoy playing. When all four of us are together in a practice room, we enjoy rocking out together.”

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Thomson also added that for the band, rock ‘n’ roll provides a form of release. “It represents a release from stress, frustration and the weight of reality. That’s how we express it through the music. It’s definitely an outlet for escape. When your head’s in a record and you’re playing it really loud in your car, in the kitchen, in your bedroom, at a party, or a gig, it gives you a moment where you’re outside of your head, it can make you feel present. There are very few things that can do that.”

Though the band have a busy end of 2019 coming up with Austin City Limits, a headline show in New York, and a tour around the UK and Europe, they’re planning on working on new music in the US.

Working on new music may be on their horizons soon, but another album isn’t something that they want to rush, especially when there’s still things and concepts that they want to explore visually with Future Dust. More so than ever before, they’ve wanted to expand on the visual element of their music, and the darker and contemplative themes of Future Dust allows them to do this. Thomson notes, “Especially with the themes of this record and the stronger story of it, visuals are something we've wanted to explore. I wouldn't want to move on to another album until we'd completely done everything that we had visualised, and done everything we planned to do creatively with this record. It's always kind of unfinished business.”

The Amazons play an important role in keeping the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive, and as long as they keep releasing music and playing shows, we can rest assured that rock ‘n’ roll is in very good hands.

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

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