Interview: Amber Run

Photos: Andrew Whitton
Interview: Penny Blakemore
Tuesday 06 January 2015
reading time: min, words

The University of Nottingham-formed band Amber Run have been one of the city’s rising stars in recent months, releasing two strong EPs this year as well as touring, writing, and recording their debut album. Joe Keogh and Will Jones took time out of their busy schedule to tell us about their new music, performing, and baking...

You headlined Communion's New Faces tour in November. How was it?
Joe: It's been really great. I've been blown away by some of the responses. We've had some of our first proper encores with people screaming for more songs, so we can come back on and play a song off of our first EP, Little Ghost. People have known all the words to that as well so it's been a bit nuts.

What was it like performing alongside Pixel Fix, Fyfe and Kimberly Anne?
Will: They're all cool guys, we get along with them all really well. There's a good mixture of music: Pixel Fix are kind of like The Neighbourhood, Kimberly Anne has got her own little thing going on, and then Fyfe has kind of electronic, moody vibes. You'd be concerned if you had four bands on a bill that all had the same big songs – people would get tired by the end of it.
Joe: It's always really fun doing tours like this because when you surround yourselves with good musicians in the same phase of their career, it pushes you to be better as well. It makes you want to play a better show and write better songs. They inspire you, it’s wicked to be on a bill with such talented people.

What's the craziest thing to happen on the road?
Joe: If I'm honest, the craziest things for me is how humbling it has been. These people are screaming our words out and I can't tell you what that feels like. When you work as hard as it feels we have, you start to feel as though you're reaping some rewards from it.
Will: We're not really the maddest people. It's the adrenaline – I always find that once we've finished playing and we're packed up and back at the van, it's all wearing off. I just feel exhausted. Going out, for me, is always a challenge.
Joe: The rest of us know how to have a good time.

What’s #PrayForFelix?
Joe: Basically, Felix [drums] is a moron. I love him, we love him, everyone we've ever met loves him, and I think it's because he's such a moron. Everyone wants to know what people in bands are really like now. You have to have this 360 degree thing where it can't just be about the music. When you've got someone like Felix on the road with you who's just so erratic and doesn't know what's going on half the time, it's really fun. That's what #PrayForFelix is about really, showing people that we are just five mates on the road, and we find this stuff hilarious so maybe you will too...

What has been the highlight of the past twelve months since getting signed?
Joe: Definitely finishing off the album. We finished it at the beginning of February so we've had it for ages now. People dream of doing it in the space we were given to do it – we went into a wicked studio with gear I didn't even know existed and we had a really great time doing it. We'd all been talking about how sick it would be to go on tour, how sick it would be to record our first album, and we were given the opportunity where we actually got to do it.

When is the album set to be released?
Will: It'll be due out early next year, but we've been sitting on it because there's no rush and we have enough material to give people in the meantime. But also, we want to put it out to as many people as possible.
Joe: Because we're so proud of it, we want people to listen to it. We love playing live shows and we love recording music, but we want to be ambitious with it too. We want to go and play huge stages, and that's not an arrogance thing, it's just complete belief in the music we make.

I Found and Pilot had linked music videos, how did that come about?
Will: When we did I Found in the studio, we were already discussing what to do with it; it's not a song that screams “single” but we wanted to release it in some form. Releasing it with Pilot just seemed to be a good method to bring attention to the whole EP, and doing something creative with the videos is a bit more interesting. Linking the videos gives you more scope for the videos themselves, to be able to do something a bit longer and expand the storyline past three and a half minutes.
Joe: Absolutely. We don't want to do something simple and get away with it. You have to have these ideas and be ambitious with them, otherwise it'd just get boring, wouldn't it?

Do you have a favourite venue in Nottingham?
Joe: Me and Henry [keyboards] used to work at Rescue Rooms, so it's always beautiful to go back and play the stage your favourite bands played when you were just serving drinks. I've been in that venue and had people chucking coins in my face, so to be able to come back, own it a little bit and sing your songs to a room of people that aren't throwing shit at you, it feels really nice.

What do you think about Nottingham’s music scene?
Joe: We don't live here anymore but we think of it as our home. Most of my friends are still here, and I still spend a stupid amount of time here. Some of the musicians here are our closest peers, regardless of national exposure. People like George Holroyd and Saint Raymond – we're still in constant discussion and hanging out with these guys, trying to better each other. I think that's why the Nottingham music scene thrives so well, because we had a period of really successful acts like Jake Bugg and London Grammar, and the rest of us were just sitting in Nottingham, looking up and thinking “Why can't we do that?”

I heard you were very enthusiastic about The Great British Bake Off this year...
Joe: Enthusiastic? Yes. But that old woman screwed that poor bloke over. I still think about it sometimes. I mean, I'm not overly bothered – it is just a TV programme – but there's fair and then there's fair, and then there's just cold-hearted. It's like us at a gig, I don't just go up and start unplugging people's stuff when they're on stage. Common decency.

If you were all on the Great British Bake Off, who would win?
Will: Tom, 100 per cent. He's an enthusiastic baker and I can't bake.
Joe: I reckon I could at least get to the semi-final.
Will: Tom's got a knack for it though. He comes up with these concoctions. There's one he's made called Billionaire's Shortbread, which is shortbread with chocolate chips in it, salted caramel, and marbled chocolate on the top. It was extreme indulgence.

Pilot EP is out now. Amber Run's debut album is due for release early 2015.

Amber Run website

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