In conversation with The Amazons’ Matt Thomson
Mahnoor Imam, Music Editor, interviews The Amazons’ frontrunner, Matt Thomson about gigs, his musical inspirations and the band’s new album.
With a contemporary indie-rock sound that’s complete with euphoric hooks and catchy choruses, The Amazons released their new album, How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me? on September 9th. Frontrunner of the band, Matt Thomson kindly spoke to me about gigs, musical inspirations and the importance of catching the signature uplifting sound in their band.
Mahnoor Imam: What was your favourite gig that you’ve ever performed at?
Matt Thomson: I would say the most beautiful venue and the most unique, wonderful atmosphere was a recent show we played with Greta Van Fleet on a tour we did around Europe this summer. We went to the south of France to this little town south of Lyon called Vienne and they have this Roman amphitheatre that artists play at. It was mid-summer and the sun was going down, it was dusk and we played this show. It wasn’t our crowd but it such a celebratory atmosphere because everyone was happy to be there. The stars aligned with that one.
When it comes to our own shows, playing Brixton academy and having our bands all in one place before the pandemic- that was also special.
MI: Is there any gig you’re looking forward to performing in the future?
MT: Yes! To play the Roundhouse in London is going to be special. We’ve always seen great gigs there so to tick this off the list would be amazing. To actually go back to the States and play our own headline shows there- that would be really fun and really special. It’s a slightly different scale over there cause we’re just starting out. It would be late October, November when we’re in Chicago and we’re going to Canada for the first time, playing in Toronto so if there’s any snow, I’m excited for that!
MI: There definitely will be snow up to 8 feet! Tell me about the artistic vision behind choosing the name of your upcoming album, How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me?
MT: I’d say writing songs is simple and naming albums is hard. I think our drummer Joe was like, “Why don’t we call it How Will I Know if Heaven Will Find Me“? That’s the opening lyric of the chorus of ‘How Will I Know’. It kind of just made sense. It was something that obviously touched him in the music and a line that really resonated with him. Pulling that out and naming the album made the story make sense and it makes a lot of the songs makes them more cohesive and collective. It’s my favourite title that we’ve come up with.
MI: Is that the synergy of the band as well- everyone contributes to the writing and song production process together?
MT: Definitely! We’ve known each other so long now. I would say I write a lot of the songs in terms of lyrics and melody but I wouldn’t be able to do it alone- no way! Everyone’s contributions are too intrinsic to what The Amazons are and what our sound is. The process of writing ‘How Will I Know’ was me writing a drum, guitar and bass part and showing the boys and them doing something a little different and me getting angry but then realising that its actually better and it makes us better. Gives us so many more dimensions and more depth when people don’t do exactly what I say otherwise it would be one-dimensional and boring. That’s what being in a band is about- there is gonna be conflict and friction but ultimately that’s what makes it a living breathing thing.
MI: Is there any song- or part of a song that you’ve been really proud of?
MT: Yes! Emphatically yes. I think the second half of ‘Say It Again’ from the middle 8 solo onward to the end of the song, I think that’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Every time I hear it, I get goosebumps. When I listen to it, I’m like, “wow we did that, that’s so cool!”. It invokes such a feeling that isn’t traditionally The Amazons and yet we did it and its really cool and the band will never be the same again!
MI: How would you describe your band’s sound?
MT: It changes all the time! You’ve got the story of a band that are trying to find their True North- they’re trying to find their direction which I don’t think is a bad thing. It might be a bad thing for industry who are trying to market you but for our own personal creative journeys, I’m okay with not necessarily finding our sound on the first couple of records. I’m okay with us growing into our own skin, getting better at our craft and working it all out as we go along. I think that’s a narrative that should be promoted more rather than bands getting it right on the first album, having huge commercial success from a first record and then that’s it.
This album and its kind of feeling that you get from ‘Say it Again’ or the feeling that you get from other songs- you feel like you’re taller and more alive. It gives you energy- not in the way that a drop of bass give you an energy but soul energy. That’s how I feel when I listen to every artist from Coldplay or Rolling Stones. They just make me feel alive. They make me feel uplifted- they uplift me. I truly think that truly uplifting music acknowledges the darkness in life otherwise you just have fake happy smiles- big teethy grins. That’s not uplifting- uplifting is when life sucks right now but it’s going to be okay, you know what I mean?
Whether it’s ‘Give Me Shelter’ or ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by the Rolling Stones or ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay, they evoke a similar spirit. I feel like that is something productive and good. It’s something I feel like we as The Amazons can contribute to.
MI: The song ‘Say it Again’ had very much of a 2000s vibe- is that something you chose to incorporate in your music or did it happen organically?
MT: It came from rediscovering Sheryl Crow and her self-titled album that she put out in ’96 and a Madonna record, Ray of Light. These are albums that my dad played in the family car on road-trips or holidays. Everything we’ve spoken about music so far- these records have that.
I had the idea of an acoustic riff that I brought to Maggie Rogers- who has been a friend of the band for a long time now- and posing a question of where I should take this. If you listen to the chorus, it’s got Maggie’s DNA all over it and her coming up with that melody opened up all these possibilities and ideas for the rest of the song. If you’ve heard Maggie’s new record, she’s in a similar place with that early mid-90s type sound. I’d like to make more songs like that!
If you’re a fan of nostalgia that makes you reminisce of bands you listened to when you were younger, you’ll love what The Amazons have to offer in their latest album. With just enough of a twist that makes them their own unique, creative product, How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? exercises that signature sound that’s sure to evoke the soul-uplifting energy instilled within the record.