Featured Image: Edward Cooke
After their breakthrough track ‘Junk Food Forever’, became a mainstay on our radio since its release in 2017, The Amazons have victoriously flown the nest – making their way from Reading and beyond. The band consists of frontman Matt Thomson on vocals and guitar, guitarist Chris Alderton, bassist Elliot Briggs and Joe Emmett on drums.
Setting fire to any expectations of what an indie-rock band should be with their explosive eponymous debut, it set them on a dark and brooding path. Followed by their sophomore album Future Dust (2019), Thomson’s distinctive vocals instantly set them apart, alongside their perfectly rugged instrumentals.
Two celebrated Top 10 records and 437,000 monthly listeners on Spotify later, they’ve carved their own identity. In bringing guitars back to the centre of rock when most had believed they’d been long retired, they’re a refreshing outlier at the forefront of the industry. Their efforts have been recognised by various tastemakers in the business.
They’ve received multiple Radio 1 Live Lounge performance invitations and they were the first ever Radio 1 Brit List recipients. Always adaptable and with their music pointed decisively towards the future, they’re set to release the UK’s first ever chart-eligible NFT album box set for their forthcoming album.
Selling out shows all over the world, they’ve already had several successful headline tours and festival appearances, including the likes of Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds Festival and TRSNMT.
On the back of supporting Royal Blood on their recent European tour, The Amazons have already made plans to tour their forthcoming album this autumn. One of their live highlights has been their Neighbourhood Weekender set which gave fans the chance to hear the raw, uplifting nature of their new tracks as they planned – in a community of others.
To find out more about their forthcoming album, new collaborations and his shared perspective with Dave Grohl, aAh!’s Camilla Whitfield catches up with Matt Thomson over Zoom.
You have a forthcoming album, How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? coming out in September. You’ve recently released ‘Bloodrush’, which almost feels like a diary entry. Did you ever have any hesitations before releasing something so personal?
“It’s a great question actually to start with. I always felt like I can get away with being quite honest with the lyrics, especially on this record. If the music is loud, and it definitely is in ‘Bloodrush’. So I’m gonna have one just assume that the chorus isn’t digging too deep into that. It is a great way of looking at that one. It really is. The verses are quite personal. And then, we open it up into something slightly more open and definitely more broad stroke. But ‘Bloodrush’ is really just about feeling human again. The things that we probably passed off as kind of trivial and luxury, like just getting out and letting your hair down. It doesn’t really matter what it is. It’s just now apparent more than ever, that those are the things that are integral to feeling human and feeling good. Feeling yourself like it’s part of your experience, whether it is going to a show, or jumping out of a plane. The specifics of what you do is mad. I didn’t think that mattered, just like the chemical, microscopic fundamentals of it, was what I actually wanted to talk about.”
That’s what I really admire. Your other albums were so intricately put together and even celebrated some of the darker areas of life. This new record appears to signal a more positive change, leaning on what it means to be human.
“Massively. Massively. I was talking in another interview. It was like, ‘What song would you want to have written?’ I went with David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, because he managed to make something uplifting in the shadow of something so awful that was the literal Berlin Wall. His music isn’t kind of cheesy, happy and not pretending like darkness doesn’t exist. He acknowledges it. He wrote in the shadow of it. He’s literally next to something so divisive as the Berlin Wall and manages to just pull out good. Made out of that song is a force for good. I just feel like that’s like the gold standard of what music at its most powerful can do. It’s not wallowing in the darkness. It’s not just another voice contributing to the doom scroll. Our news feeds are already filled with fucking misery because that seems to be what we’re responding to. The algorithm and all that kind of stuff just promotes that kind of thing. I feel that it’s more defiant for us to push back against that and try to find the good in everything. To find the hope in all that kind of stuff. Just to celebrate stuff.”
I felt it is a celebration of life and relationships. You said you would FaceTime your partner and even tried to letters but it couldn’t mimic being in person with somebody.
“It was just all just me attempting to bridge the gap. But when the gap is about 6000 miles and six months long, that’s hard. It felt like at times a real hopeless situation. For me, How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?, was basically, ‘Am I going to see this person again?’ And when I do, ‘Is it going to be the same?’ Because lots has changed and we’ve changed. It’s just these questions. But I think that might happen. But you know, heaven could be different for other people. Of course that would be really cool if it was. That was just my way of trying to gain control out of an otherwise uncontrollable situation.”
I really liked that. Did any of the exact words that you said in the letters form the lyrics for the songs?
“Definitely. I think with ‘Northern Star’, the title just came from conversations that I was having with my partner. There’s much more literal songs like the album closer ‘I’m Not Ready’ and ‘In The Morning’. Those ones kind of come out of real literal conversations and situations. Those two tackle a very similar thing. The night before and leaving the next day for a plane or whatever. The letter writing, WhatsApp and the amount of conversations where I was like, ‘Okay, sleep now.’ Then I would open my notes app, and was like, ‘I want to address that later.’ There was enough time to make this record that those sorts of situations could happen organically and not be rushed. On our last record, sometimes I felt rushed about writing lyrics and stuff. I didn’t have a chance to breathe in the same way that this record did.”
Exactly. With this album, you had more time and in different locations too. Do you have a favourite memory behind creating this album?
“There was a really great moment when I was writing ‘Say It Again’. The third track on the record. I was in Los Angeles at the end of 2020. I had managed to get in via Mexico. Basically, because the rules weren’t that British people couldn’t come in. If you hadn’t been in the UK for two weeks, in the last few weeks, then you could come into the state. I kind of bypassed it. I went through Mexico to go to LA and was hanging out with a good friend of the band, Maggie Rogers. We’ve known her for a few years now. We were on the same touring circuit in 2017, when she was doing her EP and we were doing our first album. When we get together we just talk about music like, ‘Where are you at and what you are listening to?’ We’re playing some really great stuff and listening to like, U2’s Achtung Baby. There’s this Emily Harris record called Wrecking Ball that Maggie was playing me. She’s an oracle of great music. Once you have conversations with her about music, you come out of it a much richer person. When it comes to new stuff, she’s introduced me to loads of stuff. She introduced me to Kacey Musgraves many years ago and her Golden Hour record. She introduced me to Sturgill Simpson. Anyways, I digress. We’re hanging out at her place. I’ve had this acoustic motif for a while. It’s kind of like a part with a burst, it literally is. I see the guitar and I’m like, ‘Mags, can I kind of show you something, I’ve just got to this dead end. I don’t know where to take the chorus. I’ve got the verse but I don’t know where to go for the course.’ Started singing to her, got to the dead end of the chorus. She started singing this really emotive and beautiful cyclical melody and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ I grabbed my phone and started recording. I was like, ‘This is amazing!’ We kind of just worked through it a little bit and then I went away and wrote the lyrics. Came across ‘Say It Again’ as the title and just worked around that. It was just the way that she opened the door to this new room that I could occupy. Instantly. There was no like, ‘Does this work? We’ll try something else.’ It was just like, ‘That’s it. Whoa. What the fuck. You’re possessed, it’s incredible.’ She’s an incredibly inspiring person to be around. Super talented and her new music is amazing.”
It’s amazing when you can collaborate with others that are like-minded in a way or bring something new. I think that’s really special.
“Massively. We’ve always tried to be open. We’re increasingly becoming a much more open band to collaboration. A big player on this record was Harry [Koisser] from a band called Peace. I don’t know what they’re doing at the moment. They haven’t put out music for a while, but he has definitely become the best of producers. A kind of right hand man, as well as an amazing engineer called Hardwell. But Harry came to our record and really dug in with us for eight weeks. He was just the guy who provided different ways of looking at music. He is a real wizard when it comes to so many things. Before he was actually going to be a second or a third guitarist to just push Chris [Alderton] a little bit. But it turned out to be this. I don’t know. We called him a wizard because he made any kind of sound we wanted to create. He had a box full of guitar, pedals, programmers, samplers. He was the guy, basically. He really added this new dimension to our sound. We loved working with him.”
Is there anything that you’ve never been asked but wished that you had?
“Such a good question. I would say that sometimes interviewers naturally, if they don’t have a musical background, they ask questions that musicians never think about. I think Ellie [Rowsell] from Wolf Alice talked about this. Where you almost have to invent an answer on the spot, because you’ve never thought about it before. So, you’re like, I guess, X, Y and Z. I actually feel like when you ask musicians about music that they’re listening to or that they’re into, you learn way more about them, than if you just get into the specifics of their own music. Which I think sounds counterintuitive. But if you talk to any artists like, ‘What do you like about X, Y and Z? What do you like about music.’ They will pick out things that they liked, like while I was talking about David Bowie. I was picking out what I liked about him. That tells you a lot about how I feel about music and my worldview much more than like, ‘‘Junk Food Forever’, what’s that about?’ It comes from such a flow, intuitive, instinctive place, for the artists who have made the record themselves. It’s not that it’s hard to kind of self-analyse in a productive way. But I think I’m just saying that. It’s Dave Grohl when he’s talking to Pharrell [Williams], I think. In a recent interview. They’re talking about other music and he’s talking about this disco group that he nicked the drum fill for when he was drumming with Nirvana. It was like, ‘Whoa, okay.’ That came out of not like, ‘Hey, so let’s talk about the drums in Nirvana.’ Just talking about music and then you can pick out stuff. That’s why I think it’s actually the way to go.”
UK FESTIVAL DATES
Sat 18th Isle Of Wight Festival
Sat 9th 2000 Trees Festival
Fri 5th Bingley Weekender
UK HEADLINE TOUR
Wed 5th Dublin, Whelans
Thu 6th Belfast, Limelight 2
Sat 8th Manchester, Academy
Sun 9th Nottingham, Rock City
Tue 11th Southampton, Guildhall
Wed 12th Bristol, O2 Academy
Thu13th Leeds, O2 Academy
Sat 15th Birmingham, O2 Institute
Sun 16th Glasgow, SWG3 Galvanisers
Mon17th Newcastle, Boilershop
Wed 19th Norwich, UEA
Thu 20th London, Roundhouse