Amber Run may be a relatively new name in the American music scene, but the London-based trio have been making music together since 2012. The band is made up of singer and guitarist Joe Keogh, bassist Tom Sperring and keyboardist Henry Wyeth.
We meet the trio in what looks to be a classroom above the Brooklyn venue, Warsaw. Lightweight wooden chairs are stacked up and lining the walls, with old-timey paintings and two large American flags as classroom decor. The lads introduce themselves with strong handshakes and local beers in hand. After seven years together as a band, the air around them still seems fresh and their outlook is still bright. Even with being signed to a major label very early into their careers and subsequently being dropped and re-signed by a smaller offshoot of that same label, the three-piece has never let hurdles get in their way of their voices being heard.
Amber Run explains explains what it was like to be signed to a major label
Over their seven years as a band, the three-piece have had their ups and downs. They were signed to a major label, RCA Victor off the main company Sony, very early on in their careers and released their first album on the label. “It was a very large label, as in like a large record deal. There was a lot of money being thrown around and there were a lot of obligations that I don’t think people were ready to commit to,” Keogh explained. When that relationship ended, a guy that worked at a Sony subsidiary asked to take on the band as his own signee. They went on to release their second record through the Sony subsidiary, and then he went on to buy out the label from Sony, taking Amber Run with him.
“The business side of what we do is brutal and it can be very taxing. You feel unloved and loved within the same sentence with some of these people. The only thing that we can control is to try to release really great music and try to give the people who turn up to our shows something worthwhile and give them a little bit of ourselves. That’s all we’ve got– the business side of things, it’s a mystery to me and I think it’s a mystery to many people who write music because it’s a different language,” Keogh told us.
The band’s most recent release, Philophobia, which came out in late September is a thematic album of sorts. Philophobia is a word that means “the fear of love or of becoming emotionally connected with another person,” and the songs on the album seem to cover themes of that nature. When we spoke with Keogh and Wyeth about the writing and recording process of this album, they didn’t seem to think this album was more thematic than their past two. Wyeth pointed out, “I think it’s obvious that all our songs are written by the same people who are in the same headspace. There’s always going to be a thematic thing, which is the encapsulation of the time and the way that you’re thinking during that period. So I think that’s why lyrically, not so much musically, there is a theme going on about relationships with people and yourself.”
We take a look into the deeper meaning behind “Amen,” written by Keogh.
The band collectively writes a lot of their music, but in 2018 singer Keogh lost his grandfather whom he was very close to. They were in the process of working on Philophobia when his grandfather passed away, and the song that came to him, “Amen,” was the eulogy he wished he gave at his funeral. It didn’t feel like it would fit on the full-length record, so the band side-stepped and created The Assembly EP.
“I think we’re big believers that music and songs are moments in time,” Keogh tells us. “My grandfather passing was certainly something that happened, and we felt that it would have been a disservice to a song that’s very important to me. I hope the feeling’s mutual with these guys as well, that it’s an important song for our collective, that it was important to put out as we wrote it. That’s why it’s really important and powerful that if you write something that is of a moment to try and release it at that moment.”
Read the rest of our feature with Amber Run here.
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