The past year and half has been a whirlwind for Amber Run. They were picked up by BBC Introducing in Nottingham which led to them playing Reading and Leeds Festival and having a week of glory on the Radio 1 playlist with ‘Noah’. Things are going so well for the band (the album is recorded and they’re heading to the US in a few weeks) that they’ve all decided to drop out of university and pursue the ultimate dream of playing music for a living.
We caught up with Joe Keogh as he sat by some bins outside of their Southampton venue on Wednesday afternoon.
How did Amber Run meet?
We are just five friends. Tom, Will and I went to school together from year 7, so we’ve known each other since we were 11 or 12 years old. Felix went to the school in the next town to us, so we’ve known each other for a long time! Henry was Tom’s next-door neighbor in halls at uni.
We’ve always played with the idea of being in a band together and we just kind of stumbled upon this project. We started playing Open Mic nights at the Rescue Rooms on a Monday night and we loved it. We were in our second year at uni, going into our third when we thought let’s do this.
How long have you been together?
Since December 2012, so a year and a half - god that’s gone quick!
How would you describe Amber Run’s music?
It’s developed from when I was doing solo stuff which was more poppy compared to the heavier stuff we started with, but right now I would say our stuff is a pop-rock, post rocky mixture. It is kind of Coldplayish – which is a bit ambitious but, we do our own thing.
So have you dropped out of university or just deferred to stay on the safe side?
I personally have dropped out. Hopefully my Mum and Dad don’t read the Huffington Post because they think I’ve deferred. We just thought that we were getting so many amazing opportunities that we would be letting ourselves down if we didn’t because it is a lot of fun. We would rather be doing this than writing dissertations and applying for internships!
Was that a hard decision to come to?
It certainly wasn’t easy. There are so many pressures too, from your parents and you spend so much money on uni. I loved university and I loved living in Nottingham. I was studying American History- I thought it was great. It was a bit upsetting giving it up, but at the same time, we love playing music and we wouldn’t have been able to go to some of the places we have been to. It was hard but it was the right decision.
You’ve recorded the album with Mike Crossey of Arctic Monkeys and Jake Bugg fame. How was that?
It was really exciting. Mike is a really cool guy and it was amazing for him to come to us and say I’d really like to record the album with you guys. It was a massive vote of confidence from someone of such stature and talent that has spurred us on. It is the kick you need to realize that you can actually do it. Actually recording the album was amazing because we got to sit down and properly think of the songs and the nature of them. We lived in a tiny grotty house for a month and got up at 11am after getting home at 1 or 2 in the evening and just lived the album.
When will it be released?
I reckon early next year but I’m not sure, I don’t know!
How is the tour going?
Well I’m sitting outside the venue in Southampton at the moment, right by the bins, so it is not at all glamorous. I love tour! Tour is the best - we get to basically hang out and watch movies during the day and at night we get to play shows to people. We couldn’t ask for anything more really.
Who do you get at your gigs?
I quite like how there’s a mix of generations at our gigs so I wouldn’t want to put a label on it. A lot of old heads have seen a lot of acts come past so for them to come to our shows as well as younger people is genuinely amazing. I’m grateful for when my friends turn up to shows because I have been hammering them for years and years that I play music. For someone new to come along and say I like your music is really gratifying for us. If someone likes an Amber Run song then I’m a pretty keen fan of them too!
Where does the tour take you?
I have a vague inkling of where we are going. Unfortunately we don’t just turn up in a town and start busking on the street corner! We are going to Brighton in the next few days for The Great Escape. And then we have Dot to Dot dates in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham. And then we are back into the studio again to dot the is and cross the ts on the album. And then we are heading to the States for a bit to top up my tan! We are going to be doing some showcases and meet the team out there. We are pretty busy so we are trying to take it day by day at the moment. We are going to be at Isle of Wight festival too.
What is your dream festival to play?
The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury is obviously the dream - that would be so cool. I would like to play the sunset slot at Coachella too. I would love that.
You have a new video for Spark, what is the story behind it?
The video itself is a short film by a student at the film school in Beaconsfield, which is close to where our parents live. We were looking for short films makers that would want to get involved. It’s a great way for us to give back. People took a chance on us: they played our music to their friends so we were hoping we could give a chance for people to see other people’s work. In the video there is a kid who isn’t having a very good time and he builds something and makes something good and he realizes what he has to do to make himself better.
Finally, what is your all time favourite song?
You can’t do that! I’ve got millions. I honestly couldn’t tell you that. Erm, I think I have a couple I can narrow it down to. I love ‘Holocene’ by Bon Iver and I love ‘Everything is not Lost’ by Coldplay and… no, I will leave it at those two. That is such an unfair question!
Follow them on twitter @AmberRunUK and like them on Facebook