We received a promo copy of the debut album from The Amazons, a band that are currently flying high, receiving praise from some of the most prestigious movers and shakers in the musical world. We heard that they'll be touring the UK in October and wanted to chat to them ahead of the tour kicking off. We chatted to singer Matt Thomson about how he survives music festivals, what he's planning on doing to keep sane whilst on the road and which bands he's currently listening to on his iPod, read on to find out more....
Heavyweights such as NME, Kerrang!, Metro, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Gigwise and Radio X have all tipped you for greatness, how does it make you feel when you read these types of statements?
It feels cool. I was certainly reading those first two magazines growing up, soaking it all in, feeding my hunger for everything music related. So having our band featured and talked about by those outlets feels good. We've been cutting our teeth pretty much under the radar for the last couple of years, touring and recording, so the path we want to take has always been clear in our minds whether or not anyone speaks well or not about the band.
Beat 1’s Zane Lowe is a huge fan along with Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Annie Mac, Clara Amfo, Nick Grimshaw, Mistajam and Greg James, when does it stop feeling strange hearing yourselves on the radio?
It's still strange, in the best way. The amount of people you can still reach through radio is very exciting. Although, songs like Junk Food Forever are a number of years old so sometimes I just have to turn over if it comes on the radio.
The Grammy nominated Catherine Marks who worked with acts such as Wolf Alice, Foals & PJ Harvey produced the album, how did you get to work with her in the first place? Did it take long to ‘bond’? Did she suggest any ideas that you hadn’t considered prior to meeting up with her?
We first worked with Catherine when she mixed our first version of Junk Food Forever, which was mainly recorded in Chris's bedroom. Then we worked on the 'Don't You Wanna?' EP with her, then a single, and then it just naturally led onto her working on the album. It was a fairly organic process. We wanted to carry on developing the creative relationship we had with her. By the time we got to the album, looking back at what we'd already done, we knew where we wanted to take the record sonically, and that was live, raw and exciting.
You recorded the album at the world famous Assault and Battery Studios in West London, this is the studio where Foals' mixed 'Holy Fire' and Led Zeppelin's 'Celebration Day' came to be, do you find that studios bring out something special in you knowing that such classic albums have been created there?
The studio definitely had some magic about it. We stumbled across Joe Strummer's glockenspiel hidden in one of the darker corners of the building, so that found itself on a couple of tracks, most significantly on Black Magic. We think he must have left it after recording at the studio sometime before his death, he'd carved out his second name into the side. I hope our record slots well into the studios history, but I guess time will tell.
In your press release, I read that “the album is the result of THE AMAZONS’ mission statement to reinvigorate rock ‘n’ roll” I couldn’t agree more, you never set out to reinvent the wheel but f*ck me, have you lit a fire under the genre! What was it about the rock ‘n’ roll genre that you feel needed ‘reinvigorating’? Do you feel that you have achieved your goal?
I don't think any one band or artist can 're-invigorate rock n roll'. No one band or artist can 'save rock n roll'. It feels so much bigger than all of us. To be honest I reject the idea that it needs saving. It's an idea that transcends all the day to day bullshit we seem to love rolling in. We can only aspire to be a thread, a tiny part of the the rich tapestry that is Rock and Roll. To do that, I think we still have a long way to go. We don't write our press releases, we leave that to people who know what they're doing.
The songs are very emotive and conjure images of heartbreak and loss but backed by the big guitars and pounding beats, the listeners attention is diverted somewhat. Do you feel that writing songs about your feelings helps to leave them behind and allows you to move on?
Totally. Lyrics for me are a cathartic process. Rock and Roll in itself for us is a release. We don't wanna just stand there and play our tunes with a smile and get polite applause. It's like this is how it feel and this is what it is, fucking have it. Getting it out the system. I admire people who write stories with their lyrics, I'm not sure I could do that. Maybe in the future.
I read that after seeing FOALS in London in 2014, your music took on a different style, describe your pre 2014 sound for me…. Are you glad you made the change? Do you feel that you’d have been as successful as you have been had the earlier material been used on the album?
We didn't have a drummer for over a year, so we thought, lets just program the drums on Logic or whatever. So it turned out to be quite electronic based. Was listening to alot of MIA at the time. It's just with the music we ended up with, we couldn't draw any energy out of it. It was so dead and dull, it wasn't what we naturally did, but it was the music we knew people our age were listening to, in the charts or online. I just thought fuck it after the Foals show (it was cage the elephants set that made the biggest impression), lets get a drummer and kick it.
Your October 2017 tour takes in a lot of places, which are you MOST looking forward to playing?
Our show at the Kentish Town Forum in London will be our biggest, so that's quite exciting for us. We like playing the cities that sell out first, so Nottingham and Southampton will be fun I think. Europe is always an adventure too, somewhere new everyday, you never know what's going to happen.
You have a very busy but hugely exciting line-up of shows ahead of you for 2017, amongst these is a slot at Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, Fuji Rock in Japan, Valley Rock Festival in Seoul and then after the October UK dates, you’re covering the majority of Europe…..did you ever imagine you’d have such a hectic schedule?
It's something you yearn for when you're starting out the band, struggling to get more than a show a month in your hometown. We've always just wanted to be busy doing what we love. The fact our music is taking us on a ride to all these different places is cool, I don't think we want to get off anytime soon.
How are you planning on staying sane whilst touring around Europe? Any ‘creature comforts’ that you’ll be taking on the tour bus (assuming of course you’ll have a bus!)
Trying to get off my phone and read a book, listen to music etc. Engage what little brain cells I possess. Try and kick this horrible little addiction we all have to social media etc. It's kryptonite for creativity I think. How can you be inspired scrolling through Facebook? Europe can be seriously beautiful too so I'll do my best to start looking out the window.
Please give me your top three tips to surviving a large-scale music festival….
1) Hydrate and eat. So easy to forget to do so until it hits you in the early hours and you feel really ill.
2) Get cash out before you enter the festival, unless you wanna be ripped off by the machine.
3) Leave after the last headliners, don't wait till the next morning, the queues getting out when you're hungover absolutely kill me.
Who are you excited about seeing at the overseas festivals that you’re playing this year?
Seeing bands like The Killers, Phoenix, Royal Blood at the European festivals will be a lot of fun. We're going to catch Queens of the Stone Age for the first time in Japan at Fuji Rocks too which will be a trip I think.
Many people have heard (and love) your debut album but have not had the pleasure of seeing you perform live, can you describe a typical live show for me (if there is such a thing?) From what I’ve seen online, I imagine that the word ‘intense’ might be in your answer!
It changes every night. I guess the way we play could be described as intense. We like rock and roll shows that are inclusive and exciting. It's far from the proms or whatever. Connection between the band and audience is the key I think. We're passionate about the music and you'll see that.
Interviews can be pretty heavy things, question after question about YOU…..tell me a few current bands that you enjoy listening to after a hard days work?
I've been listening to the Lorde album 'Melodrama' a lot. As well as 'Truth is a Beautiful Thing' from London Grammar, they've come back really strong I think. There's a new band called The Pale White from Newcastle who're awesome too, they're coming on tour with us in October.
I know you’ve only just released your debut album and you’re going to be busy plugging the hell out of it for the remainder of 2017 but what’s next for The Amazons? Any new material in the pipeline?
We're never not writing that's for sure. We'll see what happens, we've just released our first record and most people haven't heard it yet so we're not in any rush to get anything else out there yet!
We'd like to thank Matt for taking the time to chat to us and we wish the band every success and look forward to seeing them in Exeter in October when they tour the country, tickets to all dates can be found HERE.
You can keep up to date with their whereabouts at the following sites.