Perth rock band Amberdown have finally released their new album Four Years. It’s taken them around four years to get it off the ground but after a few listens it’s worth the wait. A very personal album with a mix of rock anthems and softer rock melodies with poignant lyrics about traumatic relationships. Throw in a version of The Romantics What I Like About You for a bit of nostalgic fun its an album that has something for everyone. Lead singer Dan Connell had a chat to Hi Fi Way about the new album and why it took so long to finish.
Four Years is your new album and its now been released. How do you feel now that it’s out?
Pretty stoked to be honest. It took way too long to get done and get released. There were a few injuries and issues in the process. I broke my leg really badly and one of the guys got septicaemia and almost died. So, we had a good sort of year of trying to survive before we continue recording but, in the end, it got done and we’re happy with it. It turned out good.
Did all these events get included into the songs. Was it a way to create some music?
Oddly no, its strange because the album actually almost took close to four years to get recorded, mixed and mastered. Now the name of the album is actually Four Years and its not meant to be that with those circumstances. We were supposed to get it done in six months and the songs were already written and we were in the recording process. The recording process had taken close to four years because of all those things that happened. So, the songs don’t really contain anything about those issues that came upon us in the four years. It actually relates to a relationship I was in that was really shocking.
I was with someone for a long time and almost got engaged, but it was quite violent and controlling. Most of the songs were written out of frustration and angst to do with that situation which the relationship went on for four years. There is comparison with the four years but they’re not related.
It kind of gives a double meaning for the title of the album!
Yeah I guess it kind of does. But we are booked in for another album next year so we are going to try this time to not hurt ourselves or get killed and try to do one per year which is the sort of time frame you want to get an album done.
Lifeless is your latest single off the album and it has an edgier vocal sound and a heavy rock element. Is that the kind of sound you went with for the whole album?
We didn’t really know what we were going for sound wise. We’re still unsure when it comes the genre or pigeon holing our sound. We were definitely going for a more aggressive and frustrated type of sound. There are other songs on the album that are soft and delicate so there is a balance there and something for everyone. I think a lot of it is a bit heavier than our normal stuff that we’ve normally done in our last EPs and singles.
Is that because of what you were saying earlier about your violent relationship and how that reflected the sound of some of the songs?
At least half of the songs were written about that person and in angst and frustration about not being able to get out of it or doing anything about it. There are a lot of heavier sounds on there because of that pent up almost rage you could say.
So, what is Lifeless about?
Well Lifeless is partly written in context to that relationship but most of the song is basically about the band struggling to find its audience. Struggling to find its feet. Struggling to have people understand the sound and appreciate the type of music. In Perth it’s starting to build up a bit of a rock scene at the moment but for so many years it was, well, I mean if you were in a rock band it was kind of an uncool thing you know. For a while it was all about hardcore and folk. But we kept doing what we were doing so I guess that song is more the attitude of frustration, not being recognised and not having any legitimacy I guess so that’s what the songs more about.
Hole in the Flaw is an interesting title and that’s rock-fuelled tune as well. What is that song all about?
That song is part of a three part medley. On the album the songs Casey I and Casey II and Hole in the Flaw are the three part medley and they’re all about the girl I was seeing. Her name isn’t Casey. I changed the name to protect myself (laughs). That song is basically the conclusion to the three parts and its that final realisation this relationship is wrong for me causing me some serious mental health problems. She was domestically violent and controlling like I said before.
That was my final explosive attitude saying “You know what? I’m done with this. I’m outta this. I’ve been in this for four years and it is horrible. I need out.” Flaw is actually spelt F-L-A-W as in like the in her flaws, my flaws, things that just didn’t work out and the reasons why they didn’t work out. Basically, a conclusion to that relationship. Which is why it the sound gets a bit heavier and aggressive on the third song which is that song.
What is your favourite song off the album?
I think for me it’s probably Casey II which is the middle song of that medley but I do have a soft spot for Ember’s Song. I did two songs that I recorded in my house in the spare room. There are two songs that are just acoustic with me and the acoustic guitar. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out. It brings the album back down to some quiet moments. And Ember’s Song is about a really good friend of mine and a big fan of the band who has cancer and has been living with it for four years and originally been given six months to live. She’s still alive, still here with us and she still comes to the gigs. That song is close to my heart.
There’re some pretty heavy themes with the songs.
Yeah, I think if you’re going to write about something better make it important you know? I think music has lost its importance when it comes to storytelling or how people should feel or feelings that should be expressed that cant. I tend to hear a lot of songs of late that are just meaningless or what’s the point? Fair enough if that’s some one else’s art but I still feel that if you’re going put something out there then wear your heart on your sleeve and make it about something important.
Are you the main songwriter or is it a whole band process when creating the songs?
We all kind of have a hand in it. A lot of the time I’ll come up with a riff or melody or something of that nature. Sometimes I will write a whole song then bring it to the band. Usually I write the majority of things but I think all the guys working together makes the song what it is. I don’t think it would work with out them. We are all pretty good working together and making the songs right. It is a collaboration.
Do you mainly write the lyrics?
Yeah, I write all my own lyrics. The new album we are starting in January will be a more collaborative effort and for us to write together. I’ve been doing this for a long time and its tie I let go a little bit and make it more of a group effort. But for this album yeah it mostly done from my perspective.
Ok the surprise for me was hearing you cover The Romantics What I Like About You. It’s an awesome edgy version. What was behind wanting to do that song?
I really love that song. I think it has one of the best hooks in a song that I’ve ever heard. When I was a little kid my old man would constantly put it on and as a baby, I would dance to it like an idiot. I guess that song has stuck with me and has a place in my heart. I just felt that if we put a little extra grunt on it, we might actually get it to match our sound a bit more and I think it turned out pretty good.
You’ve shared the stage with bands like Motley Crue and Alice Cooper. Does this give you a sense of confidence that you can play with the best and grow your stage presence?
Yeah, I think it definitely help. I don’t think we’ve played any gigs since that have been as big. We did a tour of the USA and we played Whisky A Go Go in LA, Hard Rock Café I Vegas and other big venues like that. So, we have done bigger things but that was probably our biggest gig to date and nothing prepared us for that. There was complete darkness, just the sound of thousands of voices and cameras going off. It was a real trip. It was real hard to not get nervous playing that gig but I think it did help us in the way we play now. Its kind of like the peak of all gigs. We are pretty used to playing a lot now because of that. I guess nothing prepares you for it. I don’t how long it would take you to get use to it. I think you’d have to play a lot of massive gigs to get used to that vibe It was pretty stressful and intense gig.
How important is the live aspect for your band?
That’s more our thing. I think we prefer the live aspect and I think we try to sound on our records as close as we do when we play live. We don’t want to short change anyone. That’s the biggest thing for us. Playing live is the most important thing about being in a band. As much as we love to get things down and record them showing people what we can do, nothing beats playing live.
What’s coming up for the band in the future?
We’d like this album to be successful and hopefully get noticed. More recognition for this album is what were trying to push. We’re just going to keep gigging and hopefully do an Eastern states tour and some rural stuff as well. There’s talk of doing a European tour as well so there are things to look forward to on the horizon but for now, we are just going to continue to playing, writing new music and get ready for the summer.
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Check out more of Amberdown on Spotify