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Interview: Amber Run

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If you haven’t heard of Amber Run as of yet, then firstly, where have you been? And secondly, you can thank me for doing the honours of introduction once you finish reading this piece.

The five piece (Will Jones, Tomas Sperring, Joshua Keogh, Henry Wyeth and Felix Archer) have been making waves online for quite a while. Even more so upon the release of their debut album 5AM earlier last week.

Amber Run

The last song that Tom Sperring (bassist) listened to before talking to us was ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ by Bachman Turner Overdrive. Which is kind of fitting, considering these guys are revealing bit by bit really what they’re made of and they’re doing it with kickass style.

Speaking of the dynamics within the band, it’s transpires that “Will is definitely the bossiest. And the most diva. We're all divas really.”

The five "diva" friends have known each other for a while, having grown up attending nearby schools. All except Henry, who was welcomed as Tom’s neighbour in university halls.

Studying at the University of Nottingham together, they started playing open mic nights at the locally famous Rescue Rooms back in 2010.

After releasing several singles and an EP, last week marked the release of their debut album. Acting as a time capsule of their time together with plenty to choose from, some of the tracks date back to four years, whereas others are “newbies”.

“Well we've been sitting on it for a while, and we've had the songs for years, so it feels great to finally release. To be honest, you don't really have any idea when is right, we just wanted it to be out there so people could hear what we've been working on.”

Recorded with Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club, Foals) 5AM is chockablock with gorgeous harmonies, blending indie vibes with anthems of choruses. Neat arrangements of glittering keys, folksy chords and bellowing vocals infuse to make something that sounds different in its entirety, with familiar elements making exciting listening. 

Each member of Amber Run brings something new to the table in the part they play, and each has a style in their musicianship. It’s easy to assume that if even one member of the band were absent, we wouldn’t have the same sound we have today.

“Joe is really in to classic songwriting, more timeless songs, and Will listens to more electronic music, so songs like 5AM end up being a healthy mix of the two.”

The title track is perhaps the most subtle on the album, but instantly captivating. Eerie instrumentals create a hazy backdrop for natural vocals, raw and honest pouring sublime emotional lyrics. An electronic beat lifts the slow paced proceedings, letting us know from the start that Amber Run are not just as they appear on the exterior. 

The evolution of the band shows great development since their early recordings. Crowd pleaser ‘Noah’ was released a few years back, though for the album it was tweaked and re-recorded.

“'Noah' was one of the first demos we all did together, around three years ago, and it gained more of an edge live, so we wanted to take away from its softer, folkier roots and record it almost entirely live. Also, it was instrumental in propelling us to where we are now, so we owed it a 2015 outing.”

As part of the full length, 'Noah' is a stand out track. Pulsing drums create an air of intensity on the biblical tale. Injected with a burst of energy, explosive vocals don’t fight for their place above strong instrumentals; they earn it and work together. Amber Run example their passion for story telling with effortless flair ‘my name is Noah, the sea is my home. This small waiting boat will be my throne.’ 

In fact, the album almost acts as a coming-of-age story. With each track revolving around a new narrative, there’s a personal connection with the music, each relatable in a sense. This is a band that feels it is important to write from experience.

“It's wearing your heart on your sleeve in the most public way possible. But that seems to be why people can connect. We don't want to be making shallow pointless music."

“All of the songs are written around what's going on with us at the time. For instance, drugs are a topic on our album because we have friends that became involved and mess things up because of them. There isn't that much pretence to it, it's just writing about our own emotions.”

Slower and hard hitting ‘Shiver’ has potential to make you do just that. Poignant vocals come close to a howl, easing into striking harmonies before fading out ‘goodbye travesty, it’s always the first to go.’

A stark comparison in emotional approach to final number ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’, a punchy number with elements of pop punk. Whereas championing ‘Just My Soul Responding’ seems made to fill stadium and has no boundaries to its uplifting rhythm.

However, it’s ‘I Found’ that is always a fan favourite. With over 1,00,000 listens on both Spotify and YouTube, despite never being released as a single. The guys feel like it could be their defining track, melodious and poetic.

“It's probably the purest form of what we want to be doing, but it's not complicated. There are plenty of other moods to what we do. I think people just seem to connect with it, lyrically and emotionally. It's kind of straight to the point, relatable.

“We all love every song, but there are moments, especially when we push ourselves in to the unknown. Things like the production and harmonies on I Found, came about because of us feeling ambitious - and we really pulled it off, so we can be proud.” 

 The power of Amber Run’s music is generated by strive to make music that could stand a test of a lifetime, and not just for now. The boys want to be remembered and are passionate about those who enjoy their music to continue to revisit it for years to come.

“Well we want to steer clear of being a fad band - fashionable for a couple of years, then fading away. As I've said before, there's no pretence to what we do, so I don't think we could be trendy even if we tried hard.

“If you're making music that people still want to listen to 10 years later then you're doing something right. There is literally no point in playing small shitty venues and being cool. We want our music to fill arenas.”

The dream has potential to very well become a reality as the boys are gaining more fans every day, with buzzing social networking profiles and show out headline shows.

 “It's crazy really, that the dream is slowly becoming a reality. People are starting to care about what we do and that is unbelievable. But we're never really going to be content with that, we're gonna keep it building. We're not putting a ceiling on it.”

Currently midway through a twelve date tour across the UK, more fans are getting the opportunity to experience Amber Run live as they visit cities they previously haven’t had chance to.

“It's exciting. There's something inexplicably mind-blowing about crowds singing your songs back to you, it's the best feeling in the world.

Also, we love meeting people afterwards, it's really uplifting to witness people's passion for our music in person, and thank them for their support.”

Tom encourages me to come down to a show one day, persuading “It’s always a party vibe!”

And Nottingham’s sold out show at the Rescue Rooms where it all began is expected to be the biggest party of them all. Excitedly gushing about their adopted home and its live music scene it isn’t difficult to see why the city is loved so much. Amber Run are part of the ever growing movement in music alongside their good friend Saint Raymond, April Towers and Dog Is Dead.

“We can't wait for that show, the reaction in Nottingham is always unbelievable. It's our adopted home, and we love the live music scene, so to play a sell out show at one of our favourite venues is wicked.”

Set to play Notts festivals Dot To Dot, Splendour (held at Batman’s house, really). You can also catch Amber Run headlining a stage at this year’s Barn on The Farm and playing Somersault.

So with a massive summer ahead, you may just spend yours with Amber Run running through your head with their infectious beats and sing-a-long anthems. You won’t even have to remember their name, you’re sure to be seeing it everywhere soon enough.

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