“We’re just trying to work out what rock n’ roll is all about”
The Amazons chat stage destruction, torching tour vans, and whether or not rock has a pulse.
Recently trail blazing around the world, The Amazons have dropped two incredible rock albums, trashed stages and torched their tour bus. Their latest album Future Dust has garnered them a significant following due to it’s high octane punch from start to finish.
We caught up with lead singer Matt the day after their Big Sound showcase to chat politics, mayhem and the current state of rock.
HAPPY: Hey Matt, welcome to Australia. How do you think Aussie rock differs from London and UK rock?
MATT: There are definitely similarities in the garage/punk kind of thing. I would say the Australian bands at the moment are a little bit lighter, in the case of Amyl and the Sniffers and The Chats they are all a bit more tongue and cheek.
HAPPY: In lyrical content?
MATT: Yes lyrically, while the British have a thing going on. Whether it’s Shame, Idles or Fontaines DC they have a bit more of a political leaning to it. It’s a bit more serious and I guess those bands seem to work in tandem. They must influence each other to an extent.
HAPPY: You played BigSound last night! How was it?
MATT: It was really good. It was nice to play the smaller venues and an audience that don’t know us, plus we haven’t really done a festival like that in the UK for three or four years now. But we did SXSW this year and that was very similar. But overall it was good to see some great Aussie bands at early doors.
HAPPY: Any hot acts you caught there
MATT: Boy Azooga were really sick.
HAPPY: You guys channel a pretty primal rock essence cut with a distinct modern aesthetic. Where does that come from?
MATT: Where does any of it come from? I guess we have been in a band for five years now and this is our second record so we’ve been in the act of streamlining what we do, and working out what it is we’re going for. I think the new record probably fell in line with more classic influences, rock and roll bands that we really admired like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, ACDC, Fleetwood Mac. Then we naturally want to know what they were listening to and trace it back to early rock n roll like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley and the blues stuff, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters etc. We are just trying to work out what rock n roll is all about. And that’s what this record aims to do. It’s half an exploration and half a love letter to rock. But you make the music that you want to hear and we just discussed loads of bands that sound nothing like us and I think there is definitely a gap in rock n roll for bands that can play their instruments and strong melodies. There’s no escape to the music we’re trying to make and that’s what I love about rock, it’s an escape.
I don’t want to talk about politics as plainly as I see it on the news feed because it just gets tiring after a while. I like talking about subjects party views and all that kinda crap.
HAPPY: Is there a responsibility for artists to reflect current political turmoil?
MATT: No definitely not. I don’t think any artist should be saddled with any obligations it’s just about expressing yourself. The climate that we’re in there is going to be artists that want to reflect that but I don’t think any less of any artist that doesn’t want to explore Trump or any movement that we are being bombarded with anyway. Or at least come at it from an original angle.
I found in 2018 when we were writing the record and I was just having doubts about not reflecting it, “I’m an artist, what am I doing? I mustn’t be very good at what I do” but then you realise that it seems like everyone has the answers at the moment and I wouldn’t listen to any of them. It’s much more interesting to explore and listen to the people who just say, ‘I don’t know’. I think that is as valid a viewpoint to explore as any other. Cause I find myself saying ‘What side am I on?’ but truthfully I’m not on any side. Especially in songs like ‘25’ which is on the record and it explores that very theme, ‘I just don’t know’ but we live in a time where that subtlety doesn’t cut through.
For example with bands like Amyl and the Sniffers they’re not subtle at all. They just pick one thing and go all out on it. But that’s probably more interesting to write on from your perspective. And with The Chats everything is almost like a caricature, there’s not a huge amount of depth because that depth just doesn’t register with people unless you’re a Trump or something. It’s just loud.
HAPPY: Tell us a bit about your second studio LP Future Dust. What is Future Dust?
MATT: Hmmm it’s just the name of the record; I talk about it a bit in Fuzzy Tree lyrically. It’s just a nice concept that we are all going to be future dust. It gives you perspective on everything.
HAPPY: Mother is a fucking cracker. Which song usually goes off the most live?
MATT: That ones good. We really like playing Doubt It at the moment and Black Magic. We really like playing the new stuff. The new album was certainly informed by the way we do things live and leaving it open ended for jams.
HAPPY: Ezra Keonig of Vampire Weekend recently said ‘Rock music is dead and guitar bands are no longer relevant.’ Is rock n roll dead or dying?
MATT: Where do you begin? Where do you begin with that? Why did he say that?
HAPPY: Well because he was about to play at Glastonbury where the headliners were predominantly rappers or pop stars.
MATT: I don’t know if that constitutes as dead. It’s just a nonsense comment and it can’t be met with anything more than I don’t know, it’s such bullshit. It’s just a waste of time. It depends what the parameters of death involve. Is it as commercially or culturally relevant as it was in the 70s, no. But it hasn’t been since the 70s. After that there was punk and which then breaks off into so many different sub genres, so it can’t be summed up in one. I don’t know why people are losing their shit over why some landfill indie artist didn’t make the top 40, I don’t care about any of those bands anyway they’re shit. I don’t care, you’re talking about bands not being on the radio and not topping charts. I guess it doesn’t stream as much as hip-hop and I guess hip-hop has truly found its format in the way that rock n roll did in the 70s with the LP. But whether it’s dead or not? Of course it’s not dead. Why would it be dead?
HAPPY: I didn’t say it.
MATT: Everybody’s fucking saying it. But no one actually believes it.
HAPPY: I think it’s alive and well in a non-mainstream setting.
MATT: Of course but rock n roll has never wanted to be the most popular kid on the block. But maybe there’s nothing better to talk about in rock n roll than whether it’s dead or not. Yes, it’s fucking dead; I’m playing a show tonight.
HAPPY: We recently published a pretty funny video of the most outrageous stage trashings of all time. Has the desire to dive into a drum kit ever taken your fancy?
MATT: Yeah at Reading Festival we kind of went for it. Broke my guitar, Joe dismantled his drum kit.
HAPPY: It’s real hard breaking a guitar.
MATT: Yea but not in the way that you think it is. There’s a cut between the neck and the body and you have to aim for that until it’s almost about to come off. They are pretty indestructible really; a Fender Telecaster will never die. But two of the Gibson’s I’ve got have broken just from dropping them. They are quite temperamental really.
HAPPY: You torched your tour bus too! Tell me about that.
MATT: Yeah that was for the first record and we had this old shitty tour bus called ‘Big Suze’ after the British sitcom Peep Show, which we are all obsessed with. So we just drove around the country and Europe until is just became a liability and it kept breaking down So in the end it was such a hazard that we were gonna die if we didn’t burn it. So we set it on fire.
HAPPY: So it was a safety thing burning your tour bus?
MATT: Absolutely. But we just did it in a street in Reading for the album cover where it just looks like everything else. So to have a bus burning in those quite streets it was a scene a lot of people could identify with but also enjoy.
HAPPY: What’s the most outrageous thing that’s ever happened to you on tour?
MATT: We were in Switzerland last month playing a festival with Royal Blood. Ben the drummer loves Tequila and he was telling us to get on stage. Then there was a drum solo break in the middle of their song Little Monster and he brought us out to smash this gong in front of 10,000 Swedes while he played this little cowbell beat. Then they got us up the front of the stage and he was yelling ‘This is the fucking Amazons’ and then I realised as I was coming off stage that he didn’t have a mic so all these people were just watching him make shapes with his mouth.
HAPPY: Who’s your dream show? I read you love Lana Del Rey.
MATT: Yeah I do love Lana Del Rey. I really love the new album. Norman Fucking Rockwell, the title track, is absolutely brilliant. She’s so effortless and she’s just found her sound.
As for dream show I saw the Foo Fighters the other day, which was pretty amazing. They are really fucking cool, they just do it man. Queens Of The Stone Age would also be wild. I know what venue we would like to play, Red Rocks in Colorado. I like the new Raconteurs record as well. Or The Black Keys, any of those bands!
MATT: We’re going to the States warming up in New York before a festival appearance at Austin City Limits, which should be fun. Then we get straight into a European tour for four weeks. Then we head back to the UK for a big headline album tour. Ending at Brixton Academy, which will be a really big thing for us. Then I suspect there will be lots of writing and recording in December before we head back to the State and do it all over again.
HAPPY: Sounds great, thank you very much!
MATT: Thank you! That was great.
Interview by Luke Saunders
Photos by Charlie Hardy