When a band’s fourth and fifth ever gigs are playing at Reading And Leeds Festival, something special is going on.
Sat in a local café, the band enthuse about Nottingham’s scene – Jake Bugg and London Grammar have broken through, while they praise rising local talent Saint Raymond and Indiana, along with other favourite acts they’ve played with such as Rhodes and As Elephants Are. It feeds into their philosophy that music should be shared by as many people as possible. “It’s good to have a community,” says guitarist Will Jones. Singer Joe Keogh adds: “If you can bring music you love to a different audience, then why not try to help? There’s so much shit thrown at bands, the last thing you should do is throw more.”
Which doesn’t mean the five members, all aged 20, are seeking to be obscure for the sake of it. “Our songs are anthemic rock mixed with cinematic post-rock,” explains Joe. “I do have a pop sensibility, because no-one can understand what you’re trying to say otherwise, and you need people to get what it is you’re trying to transmit. As a lyricist, I’m learning how individual words and syllables can change the whole tone of a song.”
Amber Run are determined to take their music as far as it can go, with debut single Noah having earned airplay from Zane Lowe on Radio 1. But for now they’re planning their debut album with producers Mike Crossey and Sam Winfield. Crossey is the established name behind albums for Foals, Jake Bugg and The 1975, while Winfield is a young peer of the band who produced Noah.
“Sam is really our sixth member and we want him involved – we’re learning together,” says Joe. “We also want someone with experience who’s already done everything in a studio, and that’s Mike. We want them both to challenge us too. It’s having people around us who are as ambitious as we are.” Will adds: “Why would we say no to any different influences? In a band, you have an obligation to try things out. You should be ambitious with your sound.”
The determination to progress brings subtle tones to their huge and hugely infectious songs. As Joe explains: “If you go massive the whole time, you lose poignancy. Catchy pop-rock songs are our bread and butter, but we want to develop. The progression in our song writing from six months ago is alarming. We want to make an incredible debut, of course, but we want to be in a different place by the third album. Putting songs together for this record might be a nightmare, because our sound is changing at such an alarming rate. It’ll be an album that’s great, but also showing where we can progress.”
Although the band itself is new, all of them bar Henry are childhood friends from Amersham, Bucks, an archetype of the suburban breeding ground for so many classic British bands. The four friends gravitated towards Nottingham University, where Tom befriended fellow student Henry, who grew up in Kent. “The first time I met the others was at our first rehearsal,” he recalls. They already had the foundation for something special. Joe had begun gigging solo, opening local festival Splendour In The Grass last year.
Upstairs in Whelans, 12th November 2014
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