Fresh off their tour supporting Royal Blood and with a new album out later this year, we went for a tipple or three with The Amazons’ lead singer Matt and bassist Elliot. Their latest track ‘Ready For Something’ is out now.
Matt, Elliot, introduce yourselves…
Matt: Matt Thomson, lead vocals and guitar.
Elliot: And I’m Elliot Briggs. I play bass. And some backing vocals too
And you’re ever-so-slightly hungover…
Elliot: More than ever-so-slightly.
And what are we drinking?
Both: Samuel Smith’s lager. (Said in unison).
What’s your favourite hangover cure? You’ve just been on tour, so I’m expecting a few…
E: I’m going to do this later, actually: Thai food. You get drunken noodles, which when you’re in Thailand is the go-to meal. It’s like the spiciest flat egg noodles. It blows your head off, basically. I get it every single time I’m hungover or coming home.
Matt: Does it work?
Elliot: Oh, it works.
Who in the band can hold their drink the best?
Matt: Joe. Without a doubt. He grew up in Totnes, Devon and as far as I understand it, they start drinking from about 12.
Elliot: He also has Swedish blood in him.
Matt: We call him the Viking.
Who’s the most sensible in the room?
Elliot: Matthew, I think you are.
Matt: Out of necessity. I’ve been burned too many times.
Care to elaborate?
Matt: Just the ongoing battle of maintaining a working voice and staying well on the road. There’re too many moments where you just think, ‘Oh, crap, I could have done better if I hadn’t gone out the night before.’ But it’s all part of the fun. I’ve learnt.
Who’s the most fashionable?
Matt: I think it’s a toss-up between Elliot and Chris. But I also think they have such good builds and body shapes when it comes to clothes. Clothes look good on you.
Elliot: That’s very kind of you.
Matt: I mean, my limbs are kind of disproportionate. So it’s hard for me to get good fitting clothes.
And you’re all from Reading. Who loves Reading the most?
Elliot: None of us live there anymore. Joe’s still clinging on a little, though. He’s still on the RG postcode, I think. We’ve all fled the nest.
Matt: Elliot’s in London and I’m in Brighton. And Joe’s a little bit older than us. So he’s got this kind of pre-band life; ours is just working in Waitrose for a few years after school whilst he’s had a bit more life than us. We’re all big Reading F.C. supporters, too, but he was home and away for a good few seasons.
Why are the buses so good in Reading?
Matt: That’s a good question.
Elliot: I used to get the 2A, though, which is a shit bus.
Matt: I get the 26.
Elliot: 26 was always a reliable one.
Matt: They’ve freshened it all up; they’re all like fairly eco-friendly and all have like USB points and stuff. They’re great buses. You know why it is? Because Reading is honestly about 90 percent suburbia. It’s like a small town, with a kind of medieval market in the middle, and the rest is just sprawls like Calcot, Tilehurst, Caversham. All suburbs.
Who’s the biggest attention-seeker in the band?
Matt: Me, by a mile.
Elliot: You like a good photo opportunity.
Matt: I don’t know what to say. I’m a lead singer. We all lean into our roles.
And who’s the biggest romantic?
Elliot: Matt, you’re very romantic too. I suppose this whole new record has been written about Matthew’s relationship. You can’t get much more romantic than that.
Matt: It’s a toss-up between you and me, I think.
Elliot: I think you are, mate. The postcards you were sending all the time you were in America when we were making the album. That was pretty cute. You put a lot of work in.
Matt: Oh, yeah, you’re right.
Let’s talk about that album then. It’s a bit more joyful in some senses compared to your previous records. Why the shift, do you think?
Matt: We’ve always been on the alternative, indie side of things. Our touch points have been bands like Arcade Fire. Every record we’ve ever done, The Suburbs has come up as an influence, which is amazing because on this record we worked with Craig Silvey, who mixed all the Arcade Fire records from The Suburbs onwards. So that was amazing to collaborate with him. A real bucket-list moment.
When we’re in the room – I don’t know – we just love rocking’ out, man. I just love playing from the heart. But we’ve definitely shoehorned a couple of ballads in this time round because the writing process was so different. It’s changed every time, but this time was very different as we couldn’t see each other so it was a lot of writing at home, demoing, sending emails, and Chris building stuff in his house.
Obviously, you’re going to find different ways to create dynamic when you don’t have a drummer. So that forced us to think about songs in a different way to usual. Contrast that to Future Dust, our previous record, pretty much everything was written in a rehearsal room, so there’s a uniformity and coherence to that record, but it almost doesn’t have as many colours to paint with that this new album does.
‘Bloodrush’, a recently released track ahead of the full album. What’s that about?
Matt: That one, lyrically, is focused on the idea that over the last few years we’ve realised that a lot of the things we kind of dismissed as trivial or a luxury are actually integral to humans and ourselves. So for example, whether it’s jumping out of an airplane, or going to a show; whatever makes you feel alive. And there’s that chemical alchemy in your body that just gets adrenaline pumping.
It’s kind of talking about the knock-on effects of the last couple of years. I think, honestly, who wants to hear an album about COVID? No one. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s boring. But there’s been such a wide spectrum of knock-on experiences that you’d never have foreseen that are kind of interesting.
Your forthcoming album’s called ‘How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?’ How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?
Matt: That’s an ongoing question. The question really depends on whatever your dreams are, on whatever heaven is to you. There’s always a moment on that journey that you’re gonna be questioning.
For me, that heaven was reuniting with my partner, because a lot of the album is inspired by a good seven months separated from her during the pandemic. And generally, even when I saw her after, it was a good four months until I saw her again, which was difficult to navigate.
You were in Brighton, and she was in L.A.?
Matt: Yeah. And then at the end of 2020, I went through the legal backdoor to L.A., via Mexico. I spent like 15, 16 days there, and just almost worked through the travel ban. A lot of songs were written in Los Angeles.
Is it a love album?
Matt: Definitely. Absolutely. And it’s simultaneously deeply personal. I feel like if it can connect with people and people can see something in their lives and alerts… I mean, wow, that’s powerful.
You’ve just come off tour with Royal Blood. What was that like?
Elliot: It was a very special experience. It was our first tour back and what a way to come back. I think going from nothing to playing the O2 arena to 20,000 people – even as a support band, we had full rooms every night – was pretty surreal. It was awesome.
It’s fine to play a song, but we had to remember how to entertain a crowd. It takes a little while to get back into it. But by the end we were…
Matt: Cooking. We were cooking. The thrill, the adrenaline, that was pumping through my veins on that first show in Swansea – I get onstage and I’m like humming. We had a really big singalong for a few songs on the weekend.
What was your relationship like with Royal Blood (with Mike and Ben)?
Elliot: Matt’s known them a few years.
Matt: Yeah, we’ve just run into them over the years, especially at festivals. They came to our Brixton Academy show. Then I moved to Brighton over COVID; Mike lives there and we just connected. It was that time of the pandemic when everyone was going for walks, so we’d go for coffee and walk along the sea.
He kept trying to get me to do these early morning winter plunges into the ocean. He’s really into that kind of mindfulness and just freezing his tits off in the sea, at like 6am. Finally, I came down to do it because I thought I want this guy to respect me.
So we just stripped off – just me and him – on a cold grey morning, very windy in February or something. And we’re just sitting on the pebbles, and he’s talking me through this breathing which is essentially hyperventilating because my body started getting numb. He was like, ‘sit down and breathe in and out like this.’ I was like, ‘dude, I can’t feel my fingers.’ We didn’t run in, we were just talking and walked slowly in. Then we’d take the plunge… I’d say the sensation was burning.
That’s interesting to think of Royal Blood getting in that mindful space…
Elliot: Yeah, they definitely take a different stance offstage. They’re very… well, Ben’s not. Ben’s a big partier. He’d come into the dressing room with tequila every night–
Matt: And champagne–
Elliot: And champagne. Shots before, shots after. Obviously, Mike’s doing press-ups and juicing.
Matt: I’ve never seen anyone work out like super hard or go for a run after the gig.
Elliot: But they have this amazing connection on stage. You can really tell they just play off each other on stage. They’re like brothers up there. It’s strange, they don’t put a note wrong.
What was the craziest moment of the tour?
Elliot: I think it was when we were in Mike’s dressing room and he was like, ‘I’m gonna make an incendiary device.’
Matt: Yeah. We were in the dressing room. It was the last day, and he was like, ‘let’s just do something different and crazy,’ and he made a bomb. It blew up and we just ran away.
Elliot: An amazing feature of the tour, though, which was an ongoing thing, was the jam room. Off the side of the dressing room, they’d have basically a karaoke room. So we’d all go in after a fair amount of beers and it would just be set up with live instruments. We’d all just play covers, for hours, playing any like noughties pop classics. I remember shredding my vocals doing Robbie Williams’ ‘Feel’.
And what’s next? What have you got planned this summer?
Matt: We’ve got a bunch of festivals. The Isle of Wight Festival, 2000trees Festival.
Elliot: Doing some stuff in Europe with Greta Van Fleet in Milan, too.
Matt: And then we’re on our own headline tour in the UK in October. And we’re going to do Europe in November – Amsterdam, places like that. We might be able to throw out another country that I can’t disclose right now…
Then a couple more songs before the album is out in September; music videos, tours. Everything you can envision a band doing, we’re endeavoring to do it.
This too, it’s all part of it…