“If you ignore your feelings in your songs then you’re just soulless…” - hmv.com talks to Amber Run
As they return with their second album For A Moment, I Was Lost (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page), we sit down with heartswelling indie types Amber Run to talk about tackling dark themes and personal demons...
How did making this album compare to making your debut LP?
Joe (Keogh, vocals/guitars): “For me, this is how an album should be written. It was done in a really concise period of time with really concise themes. We recorded in a way that we think is sustainable and allowed us to be way more hands on. We spent a lot more money on our first album and felt less in charge, there was less pressure there with this album.”
Henry (Wyeth, keyboards): “We had our friend Ben Allen with us this time and everyone in the studio was a really good friend. It gave the record a real community spirit.”
Tom (Sperring, bass): “The first album took a long time, over a four-year writing period, this is much closer to who we are now and much closer to our lives.
Joe: “This was a much harder album to write because we were taking on some much darker subjects and things that were much closer to the bone. The first one felt a lot more carefree, this album has a lot more purpose to it.”
You talked about Ben being a good friend, that can be good and bad in a producer, it’s good to have a friend there, but can a friend tell you off and make you work as hard as a stranger might?
Henry: “He’s a good friend, but the way we know him is quite early in our career he basically us “you guys aren’t very good at playing live, so let’s go and work on it” so he’s always been this kind of football coach figure to us. He’ll sit you down and tell you if you’re not cutting it.
Joe: “He’s a very dear friend and we have a lot of respect for him, but he is older than us and he can walk into a room and have an authority.”
You went back to the house in Pembrokeshire where you wrote your debut album, was that to recapture some magic that’s in that room?
Joe: “We lost our drummer Felix (Archer) and the band felt like it was in freefall. We didn’t know if we wanted to make another album or if we could, the music industry is a total minefield and we were trying to decide if we had the grit to bother carrying on.”
“So we came together and we organised to go back to the place where we wrote our first album and we basically went back to reconnect. We didn’t pick up a musical instrument, there was a lot of beer and FIFA, but it was one of the most important things we’ve ever done. If the album wasn’t written there, it was definitely born there.”
You said you’ve touched on some much darker subjects on this new album. Was that a stated aim or just how things worked out?
Joe: “Writing in this band has always been a fairly cathartic process. This is an album that’s much more a response to how we feel and it was important to go there. Henry, myself and the rest of the guys definitely have demons, Henry was dealing with depression, my little brother was crippled by depression, you can’t have those things going on around you and ignore them.”
How did that compare to what you’d done before?
Joe: “The first album is full of optimistic, innocent songs and that’s how we were feeling then, but if you ignore your feelings in your songs then you’ll just as soulless as half of pop s**t that’s out there now. That’s not what this band means to us and what we hope it means to our fans. It’s definitely darker album, but I think it’s an important album. Honesty is a really potent currency and it’s in short supply.”
Henry: “It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to make a dark album. We didn’t sit down and decide to write an album about depression, it was just where our mental states were at that time. I feel like we’ve opened a bit of a dialogue about mental health, but we’re not on a crusade.”
When did you settle on the album title?
Tom: “Quite late on. Album titles are a weird one, but this was from the last song we wrote for the album and it summed up the record and how we were all feeling pretty well. It’s a good summation of what we’ve gone through, losing a drummer, nearly not carrying on, we were lost, but we rallied.”
Joe: “It’s putting that in the past tense and showing everyone that we’ve already taken the next step. A real burden has been lifted.”
Did it always have that comma?
Tom: “We made sure that went in.”
Henry: “Joe is a wonderful lyricist but has terrible grammar, so we had to all sit him down and show him where it needed to go.”
Joe: “When they kept adding it I thought it was just an in-joke, not actually what the sentence needed.”
Finally, what’s your main hope for this new album?
Henry: “The big plan is to get out into the world. We desperately want to go to America and to Europe. We’ve got an American label now and a great new team.”
Joe: “The first album really got lost in the Sony bureaucracy, but we’ve got much bigger plans for this time. We really want to go further afield and take our music to much, much bigger places.”