Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview: Amy Meredith for TOM Magazine

Amy Meredith experienced virtually a whole career in a matter of months, all years before finishing their soon-to-be-released debut album. Beginning with six months writing and rehearsing a handful of sure-fire catchy tracks, and a first gig in Sydney, playing to a few record executives by sheer chance, Amy Meredith could only go upwards. "It really started snowballing after our second gig," the band’s front man Christian Lo Russo tells TOM Magazine, "every record company in the country was at our second show".

They were flown to LA the next day, to showcase for record executives, signed to a progressive label, and were set to be the Next Big Thing. "We all had mediocre jobs that we hated, and here we were in 5 star hotels with room service in LA," Lo Russo says. "That label fell apart and it wasn’t able to go on. We went back to going, ‘what do we need to do now?’"

They then released an EP on Warner, but were dropped from the label, so they rolled up their sleeves to develop no less than sixty songs that would form the pool for their upcoming record. The debut full-length album from these Sydneysiders, Restless, is the result of what Lo Russo calls their ‘two mis-starts’, and built progressively, in the over three years they’ve been together, from the realisation that "in this climate, the whole rock star thing isn’t possible".
"This is such a tough industry...working towards the album we realised we just needed to write a lot of songs. I’ve been working full time on this band - never underestimate the power of hard work."

Restless is a melodic synth pop record with definite light and shade. Lo Russo attributes this variety to the long period between penning some of the tracks, when the group first formed, and others when completing the album.

"We had developed as a band in the time we had to put it together," Lo Russo says. "We actually put one of the first songs that we ever wrote on the album, before we put together the EP, but didn’t think it fit, and by that time, our tastes had developed so we liked it again."

Given years of playing tracks like ‘Black Eyes’, which featured on their EP, the boys, singer/songwriter and keyboardist, Lo Russo, guitarists Joel Chapman and Cam Laing, bassist Wade Osborn, and drummer Kosta Theodosis, have had time to pick their favourites.

"We’ve been playing ‘Black Eyes’ ever since we started out, and it’s the most exciting to play to date. Every time we work on a set list for a gig we start off putting it first, and by the end we’re like, ‘We can’t play this first, we have to play it last!’" Lo Russo says.

The first single from their record, ‘Pornstar’ received a lot of airplay when released last November, but their infectious second single ‘Lying’ has been highly successful since it’s release in May, breaking into the top ten in the ARIA charts. Lo Russo admits this was all part of a master plan.

"’Pornstar’ was great, and it was exactly what we wanted to release first...but ‘Lying’ is more of a bridging song between something like ‘Pornstar’, and other tracks like ‘Black Eyes’."

"It’s a strong song and I can finally stop making coffees in Cronulla," he laughs, before insisting he can "make a mean latte!"

The band is now winding down from their first solo national tour, after opening for bands like Stereophonics and Cobra Starship in the past. An Amy Meredith show promises to be energetic from the get-go, regardless of the set list, with Lo Russo saying, "we’ve always been a show band, whatever pocket or genre you want to put us in, and if you go in hating the music, than the live element will stand on its own".

After having been the achingly hip up-and-comers on the scene, Lo Russo is adamant he doesn’t want to be in an inaccessible ‘cool’ band. Amy Meredith’s Facebook page reveals just how much they value their fans, with every fan post replied to personally by Lo Russo. When this is mentioned he automatically deflects praise, laughing, "So, what you’re saying is I have no life?" before adding, "No, the music and the band are my life".

"What this has all taught us is that we’re going to have to work a lot harder than other bands, and often it’s as simple as replying to a comment from a fan," he says.

"The only reason I can think a lot of bands don’t is because of pretence...but we take pride in being unpretentious and I don’t look at it like that. Little things like that were pivotal in building a loyal fan base, and now they feel like they are as big a part of our success as we are."

Amy Meredith may not wish to be the rock stars the industry wanted them to be, but they’re certainly making their own mark. Besides, there’s hope for them yet, as Lo Russo confesses "we’ve trashed the majority of our hotels actually, it always seems to happen - Wayne put a remote control through a hotel window once."
Restless is released 2 July on Sony Music.

Original article here.

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