Following two huge Top 10 records and sold-out shows across the globe, one of the UK's most exciting bands, The Amazons recently released their anthem-packed new album How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me via Fiction Records. Adam Kennedy caught up with the band’s frontman Matt Thomson to find out more about their latest offering.
It’s been a busy year for The Amazons with the release of your new album How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me. How has this year felt for the group?
It's been a real thrill to get back into everything and to build up to this record. I felt it's been the right amount of time between our first single and the album coming out in September because I think after being away for a little while, we needed time to set the scene musically and to give context to what the album is going to be. And it's just been fun. It's almost been like when we started again when there was such a long lead-up to our first album, and you can let each song breathe a little bit. We can build and almost reconnect with people who have followed the band for years, but we haven't seen for years - that's been a lot of fun. We saw a lot of people at our show at the Reading Face Bar. We reconnected with a lot of the audience members and fans who'd seen us a huge number of times.
It's been fun to get back into this headspace of being on the road and touring because we almost had to reinvent ourselves as different people over COVID. Our drummer joined a vineyard and was picking grapes and doing qualifications around wine. Me, Chris and Elliot certainly just became these hermit writing music types that don't go out or do anything. I mean, I guess we all did. But we're now almost reconnecting with our former selves this year, which is kind of fun.
In terms of the pandemic era, did you find that to be a particularly productive time as songwriters?
Yes, very much so. You're going to be hard-pressed to find artists and bands who hadn't been writing in the last couple of years. That's what's going to be the creative output in terms of the cycles of putting music out. I think the output is going to be super influenced by all that stuff. It wasn't even that we were like, wow, we've got this huge space of time, let's dig in and write. It was just the days were so long and so uneventful that it was impossible not to pick up a guitar, and not to write something. It was impossible. I couldn't do it.
I've been in this long-distance relationship. Of course, that was exacerbated a lot by lockdowns and things like that - travel bans. I've built my life around songwriting. It's one of the few outlets I have to process things, and to make things make sense to me, or to frame them in a way that is just slightly more bearable is to write songs. I was also using songwriting as another means of connecting with this person. The time between having last seen them was increasing and got to close the six or seven months. After a while, WhatsApp and FaceTime don't cut it. I just felt like, what can I give? What can I do? So that was writing songs and music because we both love music. A lot of those songs come from that kind of process.
Your recent single How Will I Know? Can you tell us about that song and the inspiration behind it?
The scene that I set, was the scene of How Will I Know emerging in June or July 2020. The song lyrically came from this questioning the faith that we were going to see each other again or things we're going to be okay again. Sometimes that faith in that outcome and that belief could give you strength in difficult moments like it's going to be okay. Then sometimes, it works against you.
Then we were building the elements up like a Reptilia Strokes type thing, just adding each element. I would do a minute of the drums and a minute of the guitar. Then bringing in this and bringing in that and then kind of screaming the melodies and then jotting down lyrics. It was very organic; it was like a jam with myself for a little bit.
When I took it to the band in demo form, when we were able to rehearse in person for those little pockets of time where we could do stuff. I'd be like, this is what the chords are, or this is the drumbeat, or this is the bass guitar. In true band fashion, they then proceeded to not play them like I wanted it to be played. Then through my tears of frustration, I realized that's what makes the Amazon sound. They're not doing as they're told; they’re just doing something different - drums aren't like that. And then going, they’re better when you play it. They make sense the way you play it. That guitar sounds way better the way you play it and change the notes. That's the process, and that was a very pure Amazon's song really.
Lyrically that's the rest of the record. It’s the question at the beginning of the album, and each song answers that question. How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me - every song answers that question in a different way, which is a cool way of looking at it.
The single itself was premiered by Clara Amfo on BBC Radio One. Have you been happy with the response towards the new material so far?
I've been pretty happy with how it's been received. I think you're always going to get like - oh sh*t, where’s the riffs? But I feel really secure in our creative decisions; I feel really good about them. So, one or two comments like that don't really hurt at all. It's been a thrill to hear that on the radio and get messages. Funnily enough, we've had so many more messages from our peers - people and other artists, or like people in other bands reaching out saying, I really like How Will I Know, for example, or Blood Rush is a great song, and that's something I've really appreciated. We've never really had that before. So, I have to admit that I actually do care about that. I care about validation from people who make music as well.
How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me, the new album from The Amazons, is out now via Fiction Records.
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Article By Adam Kennedy - Live Photography By Ellisha Iddon