The Amazons reflect on an unexpected year ahead of taking the top spot at Dork’s Xmas bash.
Words: Jamie Muir.
Photos: Elena Divincenzo.
The road to releasing an album is a tricky one. Everything needs to be set; everything needs to be right – you need to be ready to encounter anything that might come your way as you unveil a body of work to the world you’ve likely been working on for years. That’s precisely where The Amazons found themselves in 2022, set to drop ‘How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?’. It’s an album that builds on the foundations of their self-titled debut and 2019’s follow-up ‘Future Dust’, and as the fateful day came around, with excitement at an all-time high, The Amazons were ready. Then, something nobody could have foreseen happened.
“It was something I was saying onstage,” recalls Matt Thomson, phoning in from the band’s European tour. “You try to factor in releasing your album, so it doesn’t clash on the same week as The 1975 or Wolf Alice, but the Queen dying is stored in the compartment of natural disasters that probably wouldn’t happen, so don’t worry about it. And there we go. That’s what happened.”
For The Amazons, 2022 has been a year of rollercoaster emotions. In ‘How Will I Know…’, they returned with a bold and direct album of intent that perfectly captures what has made them a must-see live force but also finds them at their most earnest and honest. To say it’s The Amazons realised in full cinematic glory would be pretty accurate. Years spent touring the globe has them laser-focused in a manner that calls to their biggest moments to date but also sets eyes on an even grander future. The results speak for themselves.
“2022 definitely felt like a bit of a rebirth for us,” explains Matt. “Coming back out of lockdown and reacquainting ourselves with just like how you do things, the road and our audience, as well as just the notion of releasing music that you’ve worked on and seeing how that sits in the world. It’s been… it’s been challenging, but it’s been a thrill. A real thrill.”
Something changed, and I think we can appreciate it in a way that we never have done beforeMatt Thomson
“I’d say our relationship with our audience is strengthened too. It just found this whole new dimension this year. We’ve got a little bit older, and having done a couple of albums now, we could really understand and contextualise having people coming to fucking listen to us. Something changed, and I think we can appreciate it in a way that we never have done before. That’s definitely been the big takeaway from this year.”
Thrown into a week of unprecedented atmosphere, the ‘How Will I Know…’ journey ended up finding the band playing pop-up acoustic shows wherever possible and ultimately resulted in their highest-charting release to date. To happen in such a week is something Matt finds even more extraordinary as a result, stemming from a record of sheer emotion and release.
“We wanted to make a brighter record. We just kind of led with our nose for a little bit and let things develop with having this added time to explore different rabbit holes,” lays out Matt. “The narrative that underpins it all is this one between my girlfriend and me being apart in distance and time over lockdown and unable to see each other. It’s exploring that and all the different dimensions that come with it, which was a completely different proposition.”
The sheer scope and variety offered up proved that and more. Tracks like ‘Bloodrush’, ‘Reading For Something’ and ‘One By One’ would sit alongside soaring odes like ‘Northern Star’, which has taken on a life of its own during their latest headline tour. Phone lights held aloft, singalongs and more – all from a track sitting squarely in the middle of ‘How Will I Know…’.
“We had a singalong to that in Milan last night, and like… every time we play it, I think – oh, maybe this crowd won’t know it. But they fucking do. It’s not had further promotion really, and people have discovered that in a way that’s just amazing to see.”
“I think generally, with the whole record, there’s something in the story that has touched people in a way that we aren’t in control of,” reflects Matt. “I know that this is definitely the most vulnerable, or at least the most personal; my lyrics have been across the records we’ve released, so I think that’s like something that people can really tap into. Honestly, we haven’t really experienced an emotional connection quite like this.”
Realising that ambition they first set on the table back on their debut album, The Amazons have taken this year to show just how great a band they really are. With each stage and each night, their live act has become as formidable as it is euphoric. A glorious cocktail of scorching riffs and tender heartbreak that has resonated far and wide. If any band is guaranteed to seize every stage they take to, then it’s The Amazons. Kicking off supporting Royal Blood across Europe and the UK set a marker for that live intensity to come.
“That was overwhelming, to say the least,” cracks Matt. “We were all kind of sick by the end of the tour just because we had forgotten how to tour properly and just got too excited and went hard, but yeah, it was like – fuck me, there are 10,000 people here every night after not seeing anyone for years. It was bizarre but absolutely incredible; such a privilege.”
Capping off with a rapturous UK headline run, its closing night at the Roundhouse in London proved to be more than just a joyful coronation of their brightest era to date. Matt pauses after reflecting on the highs of the year. “Honestly though…” he starts. “A defining moment of the year has to be Joe leaving the band, y’know?”
Announced the morning after the Roundhouse show, it added a whole other element to a night that will live long in The Amazons story, not just as an unforgettable showcase of one of the best live bands going but also for its place in their shared history.
I think it’s an opportunity to close one chapter and move onto something newMatt Thomson
“There was such a calmness before we went on stage. Usually, London shows are hectic, but really all that day was very chill, and everything seemed to be working, which was kinda eerie for how good it was all going. Then there was just this moment off-stage before we came back on for the encore, and that was the moment we all broke and just had our moment before coming back on. It was just saying through tears that we’re lucky. This is amazing. This is all we’ve ever wanted, to do this together. It was the best way to jump back on stage for the last couple of songs and to finish it properly. We couldn’t have played a better show to end with.
“That was pretty defining. The dust is still settling on that, but it was a long time in the making, I think. We knew that something wasn’t right the moment we came back from the Royal Blood tour, but Joe is definitely the best of us. Like he is way too good of a husband, too good a father, just like too good a man to carry on with this sort of life. It’s not the road for good, consistent, reliable, soulful, lovely people like him.”
Now, The Amazons enter a brand new chapter but one thriving with excitement from an album that has touched far and wide as their biggest moment to date – full of that desire to be at the very top and revelling in the love of it all.
“It’s definitely that [a new chapter]. The album has only been out for a month or so, so there’s so much more work for us to do. Whether it’s touring, festivals and all that sort of thing to promote the record, it’s an interesting time, but I think it’s an opportunity to close one chapter and move onto something new.”
Reborn. Refocused. Ready. No preparations are needed; The Amazons are following their nose into a bold new era. ■
Taken from the December 2022 / January 2023 edition of Dork. The Amazons’ album ‘How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?’ is out now. They play Dork’s Xmas Party alongside Courting and She’s In Parties at London’s 100 Club on Monday 19th December. Get tickets here.
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