Music writer Lucinda Swain had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Joe Keogh ahead of their Norwich show, discussing Amber Run’s latest album For a Moment, I was Lost and overbearing politics in the music industry. The band’s upcoming release is honest storytelling at its best, both atmospheric and spellbinding; a record noticeably different from the upbeat, carefree tracks of their previous album, 5am.
What were your early music interests and influences?
Definitely old-school indie-rock, but less jangly and more emotive. We listen to a lot of Radiohead, I don’t know if that’s evident in our music.
How long have you been playing together?
Me, our guitarist Will Jones, and bassist Tom Sperring were friends from grammar school so have been playing together for years and years and years. We didn’t meet Henry (Wyeth) until we were at the University of Nottingham. We ended up forming the band in 2012 when we realised we’d rather be creating music instead of anything else.
What was your first big break?
We were lucky enough to play on the BBC Introducing Stage of Reading Festival, and later signed a deal with RCA Records.
You’ve played a variety of different venues – what do you prefer, the bigger or smaller stages?
I just like playing shows. There’s always a different feel to any venue. Some of course we have emotional attachment to. Places where we’ve worked behind the bar and have dreamt of performing on stage and now we’ve had that opportunity… it’s great. KOKO is one of our favourites and it was awesome to be able to play there. The big ones are also fun for a different reason, they’re massive and it’s just funny that four lads get to play music to that many people.
Inspiration for your new album?
The overarching theme of the album is the feeling of isolation we have all felt with each other and the industry… it shaped the album lyrically and musically. We actually did more writing individually this time and came together to play them.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
We’re better musically with our instruments and have a better understanding as to what we can do. We have the chance to talk about actual issues…opportunities to say how we feel about things are making a difference to us. We are definitely more conscious of doing things for a particular reason now then we were before and confident in our own opinions.
Biggest challenge as a band? How did you overcome it?
From an emotional perspective just actually carrying on. It’s a funny old struggle being in a band. You have moments when you’re releasing music and people come up to you saying they like it and then at other times money is not easy to come by and it’s then really easy to start feeling horrific about what you’re doing. The biggest challenge for me was struggling with anxiety and depression with this latest album. Knowing I wanted to do it and that these feelings would pass, I just had to work through them. I’d say that was the biggest challenge so far.
Advice for people who want to start their own band?
Just really work hard. You need to really want it. Lots of people will say no and will not like your work. But if it’s worth it to you, you need to keep going. Definitely don’t go into it looking for fame…because there isn’t any. Go and do something new and exciting. If it’s something you are excited about, other people will be too. Most of all just work hard.
Anyone you want to acknowledge for emotional support.
Friends and family. Our manager works really hard. Also the promoters we’ve never met, all help with the process. And of course we wouldn’t be able to do it without the fans.
What do you in your downtime if you get any?
Well I’m training for a half-marathon at the moment and I like cooking a lot. All of us are big football fans, we watch the games and play it. We also play a lot of music.
Any plans for gigs in Europe this year?
We have plans to! We’d definitely love to tour Europe!
Tell us a little bit about your new album coming out February 10th.
Well it was more like drawing a line under two years of music industry politics. It’s about self-reflection in the music industry and how being in a band nowadays, if you let it, stops being spontaneous, fun and becomes too political.
‘Fickle Game’ is about our relationship with music and our falling out of love with it. When you start a band you have fun and then it starts to feel like we are part of this political game rather than just enjoying fun music.
Catch Amber Run whilst they are still on tour:
Wednesday 08 February 2017
Waterfront Studio, Norwich, UK
Friday 10 February 2017
Rock City, Nottingham, UK
Saturday 11 February 2017
O2 Institute2 Birmingham, Digbeth, UK
Saturday 18 February 2017
Plug, Sheffield, UK
Sunday 19 February 2017
The Welly Club, Hull, UK
Saturday 25 February 2017
O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, UK