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The Amazons: 'We're making the kind of music we fell in love with'

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The Amazons will perform at Cambridge Junction on February 8. Picture: Dan Harris
The Amazons will perform at Cambridge Junction on February 8. Picture: Dan Harris

We find out more about The Amazons, a young, hip rock band hotly tipped to make it huge this year, which has taken its name from a classic children's novel.

It’s been a heady rise for The Amazons. The most hotly tipped guitar band of 2017, according to Music Week, the Reading-based quartet have been shortlisted for the BBC Music Sound of 2017 and nominated for Q’s Best Breakthrough Act gong in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile the broadsheets and music press have been all over them, with NME, Kerrang! and Radio X all tipping them for greatness. Beat 1’s Zane Lowe is a huge fan, and so is Radio 1’s Annie Mac, who made their song Little Something her track of the week in December.

The four-piece have been on an upwards trajectory for the past three years and gigging relentlessly around the UK.

“It’s a weird idea to get an award for starting or being tipped when we haven’t really done anything, we just enjoyed the exposure and it opened a lot of doors for us,” says singer and guitarist Matt Thomson.

“At the time we were asked if there was loads of pressure, but we didn’t feel like that because we’d done the album and we were already sitting on it. We knew what it was going to be like, so it didn’t matter what happened. We were going to release that same album.

“So, we felt almost vindicated and excited and appreciative of the exposure, really.”

Despite still only being in their early-20s, The Amazons, frontman Matt, guitarist Chris Alderton, bassist Elliot Briggs and drummer Joe Emmett, have been honing their music for a decade.

They started out making electronic music until they saw Cage the Elephant and Foals at London’s Alexandra Palace. After that, they wanted to make rock music again.

“It was a little bit different,” Matt told the Cambridge Independent. He explains: “We’ve been in bands and stuff for over 10 years now. I started playing with Chris and Elliot in a previous band when I was like 14 or 15, and we just went through loads of drummers.

“We went down the electronic music route purely because we didn’t have a drummer and it just sounded better when we programmed drums. So we experimented with that until we found Joe, and he’s a drummer’s drummer. He’s like some kind of lovechild from some 60s drummers – he’s taken straight out of the weird drummer handbook.

“His influence was about getting back to basics and about making the music that we fell in love with – and that was guitar bands from Nirvana and Led Zeppelin to Rage Against the Machine.”

The book, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, inspired the band’s name. The Amazon, Thomson says, is “timeless”.

“Naming your band is like naming a child because you’re going to have to live with it.

“We wanted something that was cool and that people would talk about. And it felt like it had a place and felt like it belonged,” he explains.

Fast-forward to now, and the hype machine is still very much behind the band. Their self-titled debut album was released in May and combines huge indie-rock choruses with meaty riffs.

There’s a promising degree of musical eclecticism on display as well, which can probably be attributed to both the long period across which their album was written, as well as the varied list

of influences.

Hailing from the town that’s home to the world-famous Reading Festival has also played its role.

“It’s a huge influence,” says Thomson. “Reading becomes a place of significance for about three of four days. It’s one of the biggest festivals in the world. It’s a massive influence.

“When I was 11 or 12 and I went for the first time, you’re walking away from the festival after the weekend and some people are thinking about getting the album of a band they’ve seen or buying tickets; or they can’t wait for the next year. I was always the guy who wanted to play it. I love it so much that I want to expand that love and be involved with it.”

A headliner one day?

“Everyone harbours those kinds of ambitions, but I guess you’re just a slave to the rock gods and you just put out music that you are moved and excited by, and hope that others feel the same and that one day it will lead to a headline spot,” Thomson explains.

The band returned to Cambridge in February after performing at

The Portland Arms last year as part of a non-stop tour that first began in 2015.

“It was a cool show. We loved Cambridge and afterwards, everyone told us to play the Junction, so here we are.”

And what’s next for the quartet, who recently supported Jimmy Eat World and The Kooks on tour.

“We’re going to focus a little bit on new music rather more than we did last year,” says Thomson. “We can’t wait to play some new songs and create some new stuff, to see where we are. We’re not the same band and the same people as we were in 2016 and that’s a good thing.”

The Amazons play Cambridge Junction on Thursday, February 8. Tickets: £17. Box office: 01223 511511 or the online box office.

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