“Feeling intimate and wanted is something I desperately need and have always needed.”
Following the release of their debut ‘5AM’, which saw the band accelerate into early fame, Amber Run established themselves as one of several contemporaries creating music in a similar vein to the early 00’s indie scene. With time and development, Amber Run have found their musical identity, but they’re not without comparisons. Their overall tone provides similarities to contemporaries such as Kodaline and The 1975, whilst Joe Keogh’s adoption of the falsetto register draws a comparison to the voices of Thom Yorke and Yannis Philippakis.
Their cut ‘Affection’ instrumentally reflects the slower work of Yannis Philippakis, frontman of The Foals. The track has a listless, floating quality, desiring greater structure or control but never quite reaching it; a feature that plays to the lyrical content and intention behind the track. Discussing ‘Affection’, Joe describes the track as basing its intent around the moments of vulnerability that lie between arguments with a loved one and making up with them.
“Feeling intimate and wanted is something I desperately need and have always needed,” Joe explains, speaking candidly. “When you have those little tiffs, arguments, and those little moments of tension, [I’m] personally really bad [with] them. It’s basically a song about desperately just wanting closeness and affection and intimacy with someone that you love straight after a moment of tension.”
Moving onto the album in its entirety, Joe describes its inception. It has almost therapeutic beginnings, with the natural, planned moulding and creation that its predecessor did not have.
“It was after I did a podcast for a friend and we were talking about my depression I went through at a certain period of my life,” Joe confesses. “I was looking back, and I was thinking about what are the things that trigger[ed] that [depression] and things that I personally find very, very difficult.
“I started to realise that subconsciously that the same themes that I was talking about in this podcast were coming out lyrically in this record. The thing that I’ve personally found super hard is [that albums] have to be these big grander gestures that feel deserving of people’s affection and people’s love. It was only after [the podcast], and writing this record that [I] started to get some perspective and [I realised] that it’s just about genuine closeness and connection and being around people. That’s the real currency that I’m looking for, not huge, grand statements [or] these big black and white feelings of love and hate.”
Joe continues, drawing a deeper connection between the podcast and the lyrical content of the upcoming record. “We’ve been talking about this kind of thematic stuff for a long time. But it was only when I spoke it out loud in a public form that I [demonstrated] what my subconscious was trying to say lyrically when we just started writing the record. It kind of pulled it all together for me. It was at that moment that it started to make sense.”
As mentioned before, the circumstances surrounding the recording, and the recording of ‘Philophobia’ itself, starkly contrast those of Amber Run’s sophomore, ‘For A Moment, I Was Lost’. Snorting with a laugh, Joe initially describes ‘Philophobia’ as “a lot more enjoyable”. In contrast to the more measured approach of their upcoming release, Joe explains how he and the band were not in the right frame of mind for recording. Their sophomore followed the departure of drummer Felix Archer, as well as being released from their contract with Sony Music.
Joe goes into details about the period. “‘For A Moment, I Was Lost’ is a great record, I still adore it”, he explains. “We just weren’t in a good place in our heads to do it. We could have been in the best studio in the world, and we could’ve spent all the money in the world, and we would have [still] had a fucking terrible time. We weren’t in the headspace or place in our lives to enjoy it [or] to enjoy anything.”
“So, what this album shows me again,” Joe continues, “is that you can into any studio and things cannot work; it’s not the end of the fucking world. You just get up the next day and restart. I just really, really enjoyed ‘Philophobia’. I enjoyed going away for six weeks and just writing and creating music. It was a real joy.”
“We can do whatever the fuck we want, man.” Joe says, going further into details about the differences between the second and third album. “It’s our third record, we should be allowed to do whatever we want, and the music will be better for it.”
It’s not just the difference in records that Amber Run have taken going forward, they have shifted in their attitude towards their fans too. Joe discusses how the way the band went around writing music before had a more aggressive edge. “We felt angry [and] we wanted to be angry. It’s not that we didn’t want to make people feel good, but we didn’t really care about […] how we made them feel. We just wanted to get across how we felt. A lot of that was this feeling of angst and genuine embitterment.”
“Now after some time to sit back and garner some perspective we’ve realised that it’s really important to us that we feel close to the people that like our band, and even the people that don’t like our band. So we’ve explored that in this record.”
Joe continues, discussing recording ‘Philophobia’ at Worcestershire’s Vale Studios. “We went away and recorded it all together in a residential spot so that we were close to each other and [understood] what each other was trying to say and thematically it’s about trying to be close and close to those around you.”
“We want to touch that full [emotional] spectrum,” Joe says, furthering his discussion of ‘Philophobia’ and its predecessors, “because that’s the genuine human experience. It’s the full scale. That’s really important to our catalogue and our next record. I’m not expecting every person on the planet to be like ‘fucking hell, this is the best thing I’ve heard in my life’, that’s just not going to happen. But if there are some people that find it useful and engaging, and I’m pretty sure there are at least a few, then that’s what Amber Run’s [priority is]; to write more emotionally literate songs.”
As a band formed in Nottingham, and around a particularly prevalent period for music in the midlands, the trio took advantage of the facilities the city offered and engaged with many of the acts that Nottingham nurtured. “[Nottingham] is relatively small, but I think it has got the infrastructure to support new music as well. They have [venues] ranging from 70 people to 100, to 250, to 500, to 2,000. That’s perfect to incubate new bands because you’re able to jump up the ladder slowly.”
Joe reflected on his own progression within the city, citing a memory of when Amber Run had just started up. “I remember we’d literally just started the band [and] I was working at the Rescue Rooms. I was sweeping up the floor at 3 am after a long shift in the main venue. I was like, ‘do you know what, I’m going to make the goal that, in a year, we’re going to have just played it even if it hadn’t sold out.’ Within a year we’d sold out three times and supported some of our favourite bands there. […] It’s funny how the world works.”
With an album and world tour imminent, you can listen to their latest single ‘Neon Circus’ below.