MUSIC INTERVIEW: The Amazons
Local boys The Amazons have always been firm favourites at Reading Festival. A hometown show for them every single time, they have worked from the bottom up, from their humble beginnings on the BBC Music Introducing Stage all those years ago to their main stage debut on the Sunday of this year’s event. Backstage at the festival they can legitimately call home, we spoke to The Amazons all about their recent collab with local football team Reading F.C. and how they mentally prepare for something as daunting as a hometown festival slot.
So seeing as we are at Reading Festival we want to talk a little bit about that. Matt you said on stage earlier that the first time The Amazons performed at Reading was as 16 year olds on the BBC Music Introducing Stage. It really feels like Reading Festival has seen you grow, progress and evolve as a live band and that must feel so much more special as it’s a hometown show for you guys.
Matt: It really is surreal and simultaneously really feels like we are becoming part of the furniture. We just spoke to Melvin Benn after the show and he said he loved the set and he couldn’t believe I wasn’t wearing a Reading F.C. shirt. Reading alongside Glastonbury are really just the bedrock and foundation of the festival scene in the UK, which is second to none across the entire world. We are just addicted to Reading Festival. But in terms of alternative, radical and more aggressive music, Reading Festival leads the way. So to have it on our doorstep and to incorporate it as part of our identity, as a band we hope we can do the same and become part of its identity.
Speaking of which, you guys made your main stage debut today at Reading Festival. Can you ever mentally prepare yourself for something like a main stage performance in front of a home crowd? Especially when you compare it to where you started and how you have organically climbed the ladder at this festival.
Elliot: Starting on the Introducing Stage might have actually helped us with the progression of stages. We have played a lot of stages over the world throughout our time as a band, but there is something about the main stage at Reading Festival that is daunting.
M: I was saying the other day that I’m thankful it’s now that we are playing the main stage rather than at the beginning of our journey. I think we have scaled up in the right way, starting on the Introducing Stage, then the Festival Republic Stage just felt really right. We are thankful to Reading Festival for not throwing us in the deep end too early. Sometimes that can create negative connotations, if as a band you get thrown into the deep end too quickly and you feel like you are not in control of your own destiny. Feeling like you are just holding on rather than getting to exercise every opportunity to the maximum and now we have gotten to this point, I feel like we have leaned on our experience of the last decade of being in a band and playing stages around the world. But it helps so much when you attack playing the main stage at Reading Festival when you have that experience behind you.
Before we let you go we want to talk about the Reading F.C. kit you helped launch recently, as it was inspired by your local Reading bar Purple Turtle. You unveiled the kit in front of season ticket holders at the bar. Talk to us about your relationship and history with the football club, how they approached you for this campaign, your history and memories with the bar and how that gig came together.
M: It’s been a gradual building of a relationship with the club, there are so many amazing people behind the scenes at the club and the fans of Reading F.C. are great. But you have to approach these things in a genuine and authentic way and I think over the last few albums, with their support, we have become part of their identity too, as much as they have become part of our identity also.
Lastly on that front, how does it feel to have your hit single Black Magic returning as their walk out song for this season? Is that one of the maddest pinch me moments you guys have had as a band would you say? To hear your song essentially be the motivational anthem for the football club you have grown up supporting. Is that as crazy as it sounds to say out loud to you guys?
M: It’s been gradual and it’s new to the people at the club too. They have been really receptive to working with a band despite them having never worked with one before like they have so closely with us, maybe that reflects the musical history of Reading I guess. It just started really quietly and subtly with some acoustic sessions, then on the most recent record we have really leant into the club and they have been really receptive coming up with new ideas. It really was out of the blue a few months ago that they came to us with this idea. There way no built up to it, they just said we have this Purple Turtle inspired kit, as part of the kits being inspired by the iconography and the landmarks of the town, and we want you to launch it because a lot of our early days were spent in the Purple Turtle as punters at 3am drinking Snakebites. I think we loved how audacious the idea that the dark underbelly of the town is being represented in the kit, because football kits are usually squeaky clean. This was one of the most rock and roll moves any football club has made for a long time.
Interview by: Katie Conway-Flood