Interview: The Amazons @ Standon Calling – 29/07/16

In Festivals 2016, Interviews by Nate

We caught upcoming indie rockers The Amazons right after their set at Standon Calling, and spoke about their new music video, artistic dignity, and which instruments you can play on the toilet.

Who are you sticking round to see?

Matthew: Definitely Flyte, really wanna see The Hives, they’re fucking amazing. Billie Marten’s up next, spoke to her, she’s really cool. Declan McKenna as well!

You guys are at Y-Not as well this weekend.

M: Yeah tomorrow. Leaving tomorrow morning, so early – don’t start. 6am! But we’re gonna stay up there and go to Kendall Calling on Sunday, so we’ve got a bit of a busy weekend.

Other than that, what festivals have you guys done/got lined up for summer?

M: We did Isle of Wight, the Jack Rock stage – it was really good. Behind the stage there’s like this Jack Daniel’s bar, you get guitar picks as tokens and get free Jack Daniels and stuff. So none of the bands were leaving after they’d played, everyone stayed behind the stage.

Do you get to meet any of your heroes backstage?

M: If we’re booked on a main stage, we might be able to run into people we look up to. But it’s usually bands and artists at our kind of level that you see on the touring circuit. It’s a good atmosphere, cause on tour there’s maybe one or two bands you see all the time cause you’re on tour, but festivals you get to see loads of people.

How was your set today?

Chris: It was good, it was fairly early.. But the people there seemed to enjoy it. It rained at the end as well –

M: all these people running away!

C: Even the people who were enjoying it were like, ahhh…

M: No, no it was good though. Really fun.

What’s your songwriting process like, music or lyrics first?

M: So it usually starts when I’m at home just kind of getting stuff together on an acoustic or piano.

Elliot: Usually on a toilet.

M: Yeah, on the toilet

A piano on the toilet is quite a good idea…

M: No, a guitar or ukulele on the toilet!

Joe: It’s an inspirational place.

M: and I’ll just do a barebones structure – no lyrics at this point, it’s all just gobbledygook. And I’ll bring it to the lads, we’ll play it for a bit, and then bin it, and then bring it back, and then bin it. There’s lots of songs that were written two years ago, and you revisit and come back to it. It’s very rare that it’s written in one go.

Mix and match choruses from this song, a verse from that song kind of thing?

M: That’s exactly what it is! Exactly, and then, just before we record it for the album, I’ll write the lyrics, cause I am so fucking lazy! I heard that Kurt Cobain did his lyrics last minute, and figured if he can do it…

Yeah he did alright for himself! We also saw the ‘Nightdriving‘ video, which is really cool. Did you guys come up with the idea?

M: Yeah, we were originally talking about a really overblown, big budget –

J: – cinematic, driving across america, and then they were like, you don’t have that much money.

M: So we were talking to one of our managers about something really simple, and Wayne’s World, if you’ve ever seen the film?

No, everyone’s telling me to…

M: Have you not?! Oh, you must watch Wayne’s World. The Bohemian Rhapsody scene, where Wayne and Garth are in a car and they pick up their friend who’s super pissed and they’re all squished together singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody. So we thought, how about I’m pissed after a party, my friend takes me on a bit of an adventure and all these people come in. And then I told the lads and everyone was all over it.

E: It was good to incorporate some of our friends as well, get some bands from Reading involved. There were a lot of people behind the scenes.

J: It was more coming and going as well, 9am to 5 or 6. So people had to go to sleep.

M: We picked the worst time to do a night shoot, the nights are really short. We had to run from the light, basically. It was 5 in the morning and we wanted to get a sunrise shot, so we ran up this hill and we were so tired. [Looking at Joe] You nearly died.

J: Yeah, I was having a panic and a heart attack at the same time. Still dressed as Snow White.

M: Yeah, that’s the last shot.

So you’re not acting, it’s legit?

M: You’ve gotta see the yawn right at the end!

J: It was a legitimate yawn.

M: Yeah, we had loads of fun.

Any guilty pleasure bands?

M: Ella. Fucking. Henderson. One of the most underrated singers, she’s amazing. I’m the only one who personally digs her…

C: Madonna.

J: I’ve got a real deep, deep love for a lot of One Direction songs.

M: Shut up! To be fair, I like the new Justin Bieber album [starts singing it].

J: Can you put this singing in?

M: Mate when I’m in the gym, that’s what I’m getting off on!

C: Getting off on it?

M: Yeah! No, no –

E: Everything about that sentence is wrong.

J: Justin Timberlake.

I heard you guys recently said you wanted to work your way up to bigger stages and not rush it, which was really interesting.

M: Yeah, yeah it was more like – we don’t want to instantly be on the main stage. I mean, we are on the main stage today, but it’s all about being placed where we are based on what we’ve achieved so far.

What kind of things are you looking ahead to for yourselves?

M: The idea is to put the album out, I think we’ve done the best job we can with it over the summer.

Is it all finished then?

M: Yeah, we’re just mixing it now. We’re just gonna see what happens really.

J: I think that’s ultimately the thing, apart from touring and doing as many gigs as we can, but in terms of a musical accomplishment with the album, we’ve put everything into it. Once that’s released, we hope that people will latch onto it and that’s how it grows. You don’t want your first album to be your best album.

M: Yeah, you kind of want your latest album always to be the best. The worst thing you can say to an artist is, ‘I love that thing that you’ve done 10 years ago!’, and not the thing they’ve done now. It’s always about moving forward. If you’re a songwriter or musician you don’t want to feel like you’ve lost it, like your best work is behind you. We want to share our music and be a successful band, otherwise we’d just send the demos to ourselves and enjoy them – by ourselves!

So what’s next for you guys, I hear you’re doing an Autumn tour?

J: Yeah, October – same as every other band in the world! And then hopefully visiting Europe in February next year.

M: That’s actually quite nerve wracking.

So is the album coming out before the tour?

E: No, it’s still a while away.

M: It’ll be next year.

J: Until it gets delayed until 2019.

C: We’ll just do one album like The La’s –

M: And then you’ll never hear of us again!

I’m sure we will! Wait, what song did The La’s write again?

Everyone: There She Goes!

J: Great fucking tune.

C: That album has a lot of great songs on it actually. I gave Matthew a book about it and Lee Mavers, he’s so disconnected.

M: That’s one guy who’s not looking for success. He just doesn’t care.

C: He wrote one album and just became a heroin addict…

M: And he doesn’t even like the album he put out. He thought the record label moulded into something he didn’t like.

C: He just gave up, put his guitar down.

That’s quite a J.J. Cale kind of story, going off in a trailer and living as a recluse…

M: You’ve got to respect those artists, they’re not making the characters up, they are those people. That might frustrate people, and that might really turn people on.

J: There’s quite a few people like that, it’s like the Brian Jonestown Massacre to an extent.

M: People really like it cause they are who they are. Kanye as well, he’s mad as a hatter but people like him. If he started playing the game a bit more there would be a lot more appeal.

C: Like the Glastonbury set.

M: Yeah that frustrated me a bit, it’s Glastonbury – he has everything in his power.

J: Jay-Z smashed his though. The funniest thing was him coming on to Wonderwall, then into 99 Problems.

I think, unless you’re Jay-Z, you probably shouldn’t cover Wonderwall.

M: Yeah, yeah. It was all cause Noel Gallagher said he couldn’t, cause he’s a rapper. It’s Glastonbury, it’s so much more than that, it’s not just a rock festival!

Have you guys played there before?

M: No, no, don’t – we really wanna play there!

Next year, if you’re releasing an album?

M: Let’s hope so.

Check out The Amazons here:

By Ellie Koepke – (@elliekoepke)

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