‘We are a young band and we are only gonna get better.’: An interview with Amber Run (03/11/2014)

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Shining new star Amber Run is on the second Communion New Faces Tour, playing sold out dates up and down the country. I caught up with front man Joe Keogh and drummer Felix Archer before they set to kick start the first night of the tour at Brighton’s Green Door Store.

It’s just a month since you finished your last tour, with Lewis Watson, which I saw you at Southampton’s Talking Heads, how was it?

JK: The tour was great! Lewis’s an absolute gent and we had a really great time with him. The music was quite different, but I didn’t think it mattered by the end, just we’re really good friends and it was a lot of fun!

FA: We got to play some really cool venues as well and played Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London which was always like a dream venue for me personally and I’m sure for everyone else so it was really really fun.

I liked the video you did in the library, were you reading that book?

FA: I actually was reading that book, I had to read that book, I actually had to really in order to stop laughing so I really had to focus on every single number.

JK: Honestly it was difficult for him.

FA: It was far far too advance for me normally but it was actually difficult to film that because Lewis kept cracking up!

Now this exciting brand new tour, with four acts of very talented musicians, how do you feel about a tour like this, as you don’t get categorised as support or main acts? What do you anticipate for this tour?

FA: It’s going to be really fun because four out of the seven dates are sold out. Although this is a small venue, it’s going to be really full and when you get a small venue like that, it can always be the best gig because everyone’s sweaty together and knows the gig that really kick off.

JK: We love getting rowdy but I mean it’s really really great fun when you surround yourself with good musicians, you yourself become better. I don’t know if there were some underlying things in the question about being nervous ‘cause everyone else is really really good, like absolutely not! They are good because they deserve to be here and we are good because we deserve to be here.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I gathered that you had put up your music online before you played your first ever live gig?

FA: We put a song called ‘Hide & Seek’ online before we played out first proper show together yeah! Having said that, it wasn’t hard because we literally did played four shows before it started to go crazy!

Compare to playing to people who haven’t heard you before instead of like tonight people actually come to see you, does that change things for you?

JK: Not particularly because when you get put on a stage you always wanna do your best, whether you’re supporting or [headlining], it changes slightly in terms of you know like um…

Like people are going to sing back to you?

JK: Hey! Well you never know, that will be great but I’m not gonna force it on them here. We’re just really excited to play shows, we just love playing shows, be that support, be that like a headline one. If there’s a room and people wanna come see us play a show at night, we genuinely just love it. I can’t think of any other way to answer that question ‘cause we love playing shows, we love recording music and we love playing shows, that’s the reason why we left everything else behind.

So what has been the best thing being on tour?

FA: Being on the road and playing music to people is really really fun. ‘Cause we love the making of the music, we love starting from the ground up with a song but when you get to play it to people and people react to something you created, is quite like a nerve wrecking thing, ‘cause something that we are all so proud of, so it’s almost kind of scary to play it to people, and when they react, even if there’s one person singing along, that’s it, I think we done our job, it’s the most gratifying thing.

JK: I mean the food’s normally pretty bad, we eat pretty badly, you don’t sleep much, but it’s fine!

Where is the best place you have ever played?

FA: I think that we would all agree the four or five of our best but to actual pinpoint a show we all got different. My personal one was playing on the second stage at the Isle of Wight Festival, it was mad because it was so unknown how many people would turn up and there were a lot of people that turned up. Having said that, we played Bushstock Festival in London, and that was under Communion as well and that just kicked off, it was amazing, I think that was your favourite show.

JK: Yeah, that was one of my favourite shows. I really like playing smaller shows when people start to get really involved but still intimate. I really enjoy those shows.

And you played Reading Festival too?

JK: I was too nervous to enjoy that.

FA: Last year [2013] we played it. It was when we were still learning to play together, and I’d say only this year we start to really get used to being on stage!

In terms of creating an image for the band or your soundscape, I reckon the major tool is the social media nowadays, and you manage your own profiles? How do you like doing that? How does interacting with people on these platforms helped made people see who you are or get the vibe off of you? Especially on Twitter, I think the Twitter hashtag #prayforfelix works pretty well! It’s really funny!

JK: We just like to have a joke. Social media’s always a really really odd one, I think, because you can do loads and loads of different stuff and you can attack it in different ways, you can be mysterious, you can talk about stuff. But like we just kid around! Like when we were not on stage, we are just five mates who get to do what we always wanted to do so it actually pisses me off when people are too pretentious and get too tensed about it. Just like, have a joke around! Felix was the first one to admit he was a bit of a moron, but that’s why we love him, so why wouldn’t other people love him because of that as well!

FA: I think it’s so important to get your personality across the band as well because people can then relate to individual members as well. Like it’s simple, the best example, although they didn’t have social media, is The Beatles. People love Ringo because he was kind of, the silly one, and he was a bit of a novelty item but obviously you know…

JK: It’s difficult to get it right, who knows, there’s no way to do it right. And who knows if we’re doing it well, and to be honest I don’t really care!

But you are having so much fun!

JK: Yeah exactly! It’s just funny at the end of the day, just a tool to make stupid jokes with!

In terms of creating music, understandably you all listen to a variety of music, that could correlate with your writing process, but what are the other things that you draw inspirations from? Not necessarily for the sole purpose of music creation, but just inspirations in general?

JK: [mumbles something about some culture]

FA: HA!

What’s that?

JK: Astrology. I’m not really sure, just…

FA: We are all really, we are like funny dark humour, we all just kind of like don’t really, I don’t know, I don’t really know! It’s kind of a difficult one… It’s a good question!

JK: When it comes to writing a song, and different bands we all like, I don’t really think it ever really plays a part when we come write music together, ‘cause we just like it together, so it all comes out at once, I wouldn’t say there’s one crossover band that works genuinely.

FA: Maybe Coldplay.

JK: Even they get a lot of stick ‘cause I really like them. I don’t know. I can’t answer it I’m sorry. I guess there’s no easy way to!

You are now living together in Nottingham?

JK: Not anymore! Our lease ran out and we’re on the road together all the time so there’s no point in getting in the house together.

So you are going to live on a tour bus?

AR: Yes!

What’s the best and worst part about it then?

FA: Can’t go to toilet on a bus, if you need it, you are fucked!

JK: Like personal space? You wanna sit by yourself for a little bit, it can’t happen, you just gotta like not speak and just think of it. The best part?

FA: With your mates play the shows? It’s our job, that’s just indescribable.

But you did like Nottingham?

JK: Yeah! We loved it!

FA: We are going back there on Sunday.

JK: Our girlfriends, our friends all live there, so it’s where we go when we have time off but don’t like having time off so they’re gonna have to eventually just come on the van with us!

FA: We’ll drive separately, in a convoy.

JK: Like a biker gang.

FA: Separate van for girlfriends.

I personally don’t think there’s a particular sound of the music scene of a city per se, for example those who are from or based in Nottingham, all sound differently musically, but can you recommend who we should keep an ear out for from there?

JK: Obviously our mate Callum, Saint Raymond, he’s a really great guy! Dog is Dead are amazing, and they’re just gonna start releasing some new music that sounds great.

FA: There are loads of like really up and coming ones, George Holroyd.

JK: Yeah, Georgie Rose, George Holroyd. A band called April Towers just coming up. Yeah, there’re some really great music around!

Have you been in Brighton before? Have you played here before?

FA: Yes, we played the uh…

JK: The Great Escape.

FA: That was AMAZING! We played two days here, in The Concorde [Concorde 2], an XFM show, and then we played The Above Audio and that was amazing! There were a 20 minute queue to get in, and it was this tiny venue just absolutely jam packed, wicked!

JK: It was really fun.

Any news on your debut album? Have you finished recording it?

JK: We finished recording it properly in May.

FA: We’re gonna release it when the time is right, and keep building the fan base.

JK: ‘Cause we don’t wanna release it now, we love it, we love the album, and we wanna release it to as many people as possible, who could in turn love it or hate it. We don’t wanna just release it, we wanna give it the best opportunity, because we spent years writing it, we spend all of our money, we loved it, all the songs on it, so why wouldn’t we try to be ambitious and see how far it can go!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

FA: There’s this tour which finishes in a couple of weeks, and then there will be bits and bobs. There’s always stuff beyond the playing shows as well, sort of events and meetings and music videos and photos and stuff. I’m sure there’ll be lots of exciting thing for early next year, we can’t really, nothing really set in stone, look out! PLEASE!

I remember speaking to you last time after the Southampton show, you said you are a relatively young band, have how you think about being young yourself changed since you first started this band?

JK: As in I’m 21, I love it! I still got black hair rather than white, there’s so many years and so many place that we could go and being given the opportunists to go to these places. ‘Cause I know that I’m not, we’re not a finished article yet, and we know that we could be really really great. I think that answers your question. I mean we are a young band and we are only gonna get better. Until the children come.

FA: Jeez! Appalling.

JK: When we definitely get into social services. Anyway, carry on! Dark humour is absurd!

In one of the interviews you did say you like writing your music when you are slightly hung-over?

JK: It just seems to happen like that, we like to have a good time! As soon as you get cynical and angry about what you are doing then you are not gonna wanna do it anymore, so yeah we drink probably too much, it probably isn’t good for us but…

You are young as you said!

JK: Exactly! Why not enjoy it whilst you can! Because there’s enough people telling you you’re shit and enough people telling you you are never gonna make it, you might as well just have a good time on what you are doing and believe in what  you are doing.

If you have yet to figure out by now, they are a joy to talk to! At the same time they have so many thoughtful remarks along their journey, so make sure you catch them live at their headline show at London’s Dingwalls on 3rd February 2015.

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