Back stage in a Shepherd’s Bush church near the queue for the loos isn’t traditionally where you’d expect to meet ridiculously talented young musicians, but that’s exactly where we tracked down Amber Run’s drummer, Felix and lead singer, Joe.
Amber Run are currently headlining the Communion New Faces tour alongside Pixel Fix, Kimberley Anne and Fyfe and, between electrifying sets under the purple-lit alter of St Stephen’s Church, we managed to chat to the Buckinghamshire boys on being a Nottingham band, what it’s like to gig in London and their love for Coldplay and Bill Murray.
Henry (keys), Joe (guitar and vocals), Tom (bass), Felix (drums), and Will (guitar)
Tell me all about Amber Run
Felix: Joe, Tom and Will went to school together and they were in bands before, good and bad, (Joe: mostly bad) and they all went to Nottingham University together and met Henry. Then I leached for a bit and was like: ‘love me’ (pleading) and we formed the band properly in December 2012.
The Nottingham Post reported that you got grief for saying that you’re a Nottingham band, is that true?
Felix: We formed in a band in Nottingham. Everything we did – practising, songwriting – it was all in Nottingham.
Joe: All of our contemporaries and peers who we were doing stuff with were Nottingham bands. I said that in a spur of the moment. I was getting quite riled up because there was a couple of very individual people saying that we aren’t real Nottingham band and they shouldn’t be able to leech off of our scene and I said, basically, f**k off.
We tour round the country signing Nottingham’s praises and there’s not one artist in Nottingham that I don’t think is class. There’s a scene that just helps each other and makes each other better. It was mostly just because I was slightly irate because I love Nottingham.
Do you like performing in London?
Felix: The classical thing with London is that people expect crowds to be like this (stands still, crosses arms, looks reserved) but the last time we played here was Bushstock festival and it was probably one of the craziest gigs we’ve ever had – it was just 400 people jumping up and down.
I really love playing in London but I think people expect London shows to be a bit muted.
Joe: Well it’s not quite Newcastle
What’s a Newcastle gig like?
Felix: Oh f**king mental!
Joe: They’re just nutters! We just love playing shows, be it London, Newcastle, Brighton, Bristol; we love playing our music.
Felix: We work so hard on songs that we love; that we’ve poured our hearts and our lives into.
Joe: We’ve only been a band for a short time but we’ve worked hours, weeks, months to try and be good live so we’ve got to a point now that I enjoy it because I feel like we are good and people will like it.
Image: Jack Margerison
You can’t be doing badly, considering that your third or fourth gig was at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2013…
Felix: Well, I mean, we were awful then!
Joe: We rehearsed for two weeks straight on 12 hour days because we knew we had to smash that gig.
I was terrified. I’ve genuinely blacked it out. I can’t remember the weekend.
Felix: I don’t have any recollection of being on stage playing. I remember being there and being nervous before and really happy afterwards, but I can’t remember performing.
Who would you most like to tour with?
Joe: Coldplay. Honestly we all love different music but I just think Coldplay would be jokes.
Felix: Well, my one would just be ridiculous. I would love to tour with someone like Rage against the Machine.
Who would be your dream support act?
Joe: Coldplay. There’re so many musicians I respect that I just couldn’t play above ever.
Felix: I’d get Bill Murray to do some sort of act on stage. Imagine. Imagine Bill Murray. The Billster.
It’s funny you mention Coldplay. The Independent reviewed your music and said that: “Their vast sound has Coldplay stadium ambitions.”
Felix: Oh that’s very nice of him.
Joe: That’s rather pleasant! It’s one of those of things, it’s so lovely to be compared to acts and I think Coldplay, despite being one of the biggest bands in the world, they have that thing that they’re uncool.
But what is uncool about playing stadiums? What’s uncool about people loving your music? So I totally endorse that quote, thank you very much Mr Independent!
So you all love different sorts of music, what are you listening to right now?
Felix: I really love the new Superfood album, I listen to people like Flight and Nothing But Thieves
Joe: I’ve been listening to that new Ben Howard album quite a lot and Elbow and I’m a big Coldplay fan.
How does that work when you come together to write music?
Joe: Everyone is good at their own thing and everyone’s got some great ideas. It’s one of the things that we always try to do – just don’t close any doors.
Is that how your brilliant live Mahogany Session came about with London Contemporary Voices choir?
Joe: Well that’s what I mean, there’re no boundaries to it; we just don’t say no to any ideas. I made a brief joke to the guy who runs Mahogany and said imagine if we got a choir in and we did it a Capella…so we did and it sounded wicked.
You spend so much time on the road together, who’s the most annoying band member to travel with?
Felix: Probably me. I get the imaginary microphone out and sing to people in the van.
Joe: That is annoying…Felix is pretty non-stop. You learn to just kind of phase it out…
If you had to spend forever more with just one member of the band who would it be?
Felix: We put to our Twitter followers the other day actually and asked who would you like to spend two weeks on a desert island with and me and Joe won; we got the most. But it was all for different reasons, I mean Tom got lots because he can bake and he likes cooking…
Joe: ..and also Tom seems to be regarded as the best looking. I mean, that doesn’t hurt at all. There’s no bitterness there at all…in any way shape or form ha ha.
Image: Jack Margerison
So what’s next for Amber Run?
Felix: We’ve got the rest of this tour, which is going to be great and then a couple of shows in Glasgow and Dublin and Liverpool and then we’ve got Dingwalls on sale for 3 February, which will be our biggest ever headline. I’m so excited for it because I think it’s a wicked venue. If we sold that out it would probably make me cry.
Joe: We’ve had albums out since January and we’ve got another one coming out next year. We’ll just keep writing and releasing, as long as people want to listen to it then we’ll keep throwing it out there.
See Amber Run on the New Faces Communion Tour now. You can find tickets here.
The Communion ‘New Faces’ tour, whose line-up includes, Amber Run, FYFE, Pixel Fix and Kimberly Anne, runs this week and visits Brighton, Bristol, London, Oxford, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds. For tickets and more info, search here.