Amber Run are on the road. At least they were when they answered the phone to speak to Glasgowist – on the motorway to Birmingham to sign pre-order copies of their second album ‘For a Moment, I was Lost’, which was released yesterday. The record will see Joe Keogh, Will Jones, Tom Sperring and Henry Wyeth embark on a UK tour, which brings them to Glasgow for a gig at the QMU.
The band took a break from their journey and frontman Joe Keogh answered our questions.
How did the band start out?
Tom, Will, and I went to school together, and then we ended up going to University at Nottingham together. In a kind of friend way, not in a romantic way. Then we met Henry, who was Tom’s next door neighbour. So that’s how it all started.
What was the main thing you wanted to do, what provoked the decision to start playing music together?
Our main thing, I think, was always to play live. That was really important to us and something that we really enjoyed doing. Playing big arenas would have been paramount in our hopes. The kind of songs we were writing, right from the beginning, they were live singalong kind of songs, so I think that was the most important thing for us when we first started.
Then once you’d done a few gigs, what was the breakthrough moment where you thought things might be going somewhere?
That moment was probably when we played the Reading and Leeds festival that first time, just because it was so early in our career, it was our fourth, fifth show or something and everything was happening so quickly and then we turn up Reading and thousands of people are there watching us, loads of labels knocking around as well, and it was kind of just ridiculous and just came out of nowhere.
It was at that point we all thought that it could be a thing … That we should work really hard at it, see how far we could get with it.
I suppose that would be a real shot of adrenaline but also a shot of confidence once you make it through that, once you stand up in front a thousand people at a national festival and play your songs.
I guess so man, yeah. I mean it was fucking terrifying. Again, because it was so early in our career. It gives you that confidence, it does, but at the same time I kind of wish we gave ourselves more time get really good at what we do and just be really self confident in our own ability to play shows. But it was awesome, and it did galvanise a sense of working really hard and getting better at what we do.
You’ve got a new album coming out. What do you think has changed between the debut album and this album that you’re working on?
I mean they’re written at completely different moments. 5am, which is our first record was written over three years, and the second one was written over the course of nine months, when we were having real personal struggles in the band, and I think there’s a darkness to this album I don’t think there is in the first one, that I don’t think that we had the ability to do on our first record. That’s no slight on 5am, because I think it’s a really great body of work, but I think that this album is a lot more honest and sincere and dark, which for me is a positive word. We like that kind of music. It’s a really interesting album.
Do you think that it’s better to write on the road or is it better to sit down and block out a couple of months in the studio and get it done?
We didn’t have the opportunity to really road test these songs. Again, you find yourself in different moments. Songs on the album sound different to how you’d developed them, but I wouldn’t say there’s a better or worse way to do it.
There’s ways that you’d rather be doing it at one moment, then there’s just making the best of the situation you’re in. I think we’d have loved to road test this material but there wasn’t really an opportunity to do that. The way that music works now, the touring circuit, if you’re not releasing music you can’t tour. And we haven’t released music in about a year and a bit so we couldn’t really get out on the road before we had the album ready. I don’t think this album’s any worse, or better for that – we recorded it completely live, so I think it’s going to translate unbelievably well. I’m really excited to get out on the road, come up to Glasgow and places like that.
So, it’s still important to get out there and stand in front of an audience and get some feedback, despite the fact the internet allows you to project your music just about anywhere?
Yeah, I would definitely say so. The internet’s awesome. Getting your stuff out there, it’s easy, but it’s also really fleeting. You can’t really make an impression on someone, or impress on them the importance of certain lyrics or certain moments.
There’s nothing like live music. Streaming and YouTube and videos and stuff like that, it’s all great, but there’s absolutely no competition between the two. Live music is just way better, and this album, any album, that any band or artist releases will always be better live. And if it isn’t then there’s something wrong.
You write songs thinking that people will like specific things but some songs just jump out and surprise you when you are in front of your audience and can get a reaction. On our first record, we didn’t think our songs I Found or 5am would be hugely important live songs for us, but people love those songs and they absolutely connect with them when we play them live. You just don’t know, and you learn a lot about the song, you learn a lot about the people that are coming to listen to it as well, and it’s an interesting relationship.
You can check out Amber Run on the following UK dates in February:
8th – Waterfront Studio, Norwich
10th – Rock City, Nottingham
11th – The Institute, Birmingham
13th – Phoenix, Exeter
14th – Engine Rooms, Southampton
16th – O2 Academy, Newcastle
17th – QMU, Glasgow
18th – Plug, Sheffield
19th – Welly, Hull
22nd – Stylus, Leeds
23rd – Academy 2, Manchester
24th – SWX, Bristol
25th – Forum, London