-Where Are They Now?
Reading based band The Amazons have had an extremely successful year since they burst onto the indie scene with their self-titled debut album The Amazons in May last year, but what else have they been up to since their explosive release? Slipping CD’s into unknowing shoppers baskets, and hoping someone would listen to their demo music was a crafty little trick the Amazons frontman Matt Thomson would often use to get the band’s music heard in the early days before the release of their first album. The Amazon’s have come a long way since stacking shelves at their local Waitrose supermarket in Reading, playing a multitude of different gigs to being nominated for Q Magazine’s Best Breakthrough Act.
Hailing from Reading, Berkshire were one of 2017’s most successful emerging rock bands, gaining attention from the media left, right and centre from the likes of NME, Kerrang, Metro, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Gigwise and Radio X. The Amazons album erupts with explosive guitar riffs, full of energy with a hint of mysterious charm. It’s the kind of album you will want to blast from your car speakers whilst driving at midnight when the full moon is hanging large and low in the sky. In fact, one of their first ever EP track’s ‘Nightdriving’ is absolutely perfect for exhilarating moments like this, whatever they may be. There is a strong sense of urgency from the album which cannot be ignored– the rush from the first song gives you a tease of the adrenaline fuelled album and it is just a sample of what is yet to come. ‘Black Magic’ is the intense track and it certainly lives up to its mystic name. The guitar tones are somewhat dark and compelling, complimenting the flame-haired lead singer Matt Thompson’s breath-takingly hypnotic vocals. They glisten and soar above and beyond the addictive drum beat. Did you know the emotive lyrics apparently took almost 3 years to write?
Another brilliant song from their album to check out is ‘Ultraviolet‘, with the same urgency as ‘Black Magic’, but with more playful and daring vibe with lighter tones. The music video for ‘Ultraviolet’ was directed by Oscar Sansom, filmmaker from a production company called The Forest of Black. Sansom decided to go completely old school and hand craft the video himself, which was shot on a 16mm film. In a true punk spirit he took the raw film and used DIY techniques to add visual effects onto the negatives. The negative film of the band was quite literally disfigured -and almost destroyed- frame-by-frame, then ran back through a scanner. Sansom explains his technique: “I went about mutilating the final negative. Bleach, scratching, ink and fire were my weapons of choice”, Sansom describes how the raw process felt, “there is something quite enjoyable about that punk style approach to making”. The use of raw creative techniques and natural elements like fire really plays well the organic, earthy sound of the Amazons, which Sansom wanted to capture in his work, “It was important to me not to just add animation digitally in this video but to physically scratch and effect the negative. The band has this amazing effortless rock’n roll attitude and sound and I wanted to reflect that through the techniques I used”.
But the visually aesthetic creativity surrounding the Amazons’ sound does not stop there, the aggressive cover art for their debut album, as many will be familiar with, of the burning Ford transit van in the middle of the street for the album has a metaphoric meaning. The Amazons completely destroyed their own tourbus with fire for the front cover, torching ‘Big Suze’ and leaving their trusty vehicle to burn. Contrary to how it may be perceived, this was not some hedonistic act of impulsivity. Why? The photo of the flaming van was taken in Reading, where they are from. They wanted to pay homage to Reading, their proud hometown where the band met and started their musical career. Reading is a place where they wanted to escape, but eventually returned to, back to their roots.
Since the album release which landed them number eight in the charts, the Amazons have been touring and playing many live performances. Matt Thompson even made a guest appearance at a Yonaka gig during the icy weather back in February at the snowed-in Garage music venue in Islington. Theresa from Yonaka and Matt covered Post-Malone’s ‘I Fall Apart’, the two lead singers gave an unforgettable performance, a stunning rendition with such powerful voices against the slowed down tempo. Although the Amazons are undeniably a rock band through and through, they actually haven’t always been a rock band. While their guitars were collecting dust, they were heavily involved with Reading’s rave scene, and were actually spending a lot of time experimenting with house music. But allegedly, after attending a Foals gig in Alexandra Palace in 2014, their love for their guitars was reignited, and thank god it was.
After a roaring start what will the Amazon’s be up to next? They have a busy summer full of festival appearances lined up, including Truck Festival in Oxfordshire, Y Not? Festival in Matlock, Boardmasters in Cornwall and Victorious Festival in Portsmouth. They also have a highly-anticipated new EP which was released on the 29thof June; Come the Fire, Come the Evening. The name of the EP is derived from the lyrics from the song ‘Holly Roller‘. The EP was recorded live at the Hexagon, in Reading and features fellow band Yonaka on the track ‘In My Mind’.
By Lauren Cole-Lomas