Latest release: Youngbloods – Special Edition (UNFD)
Originally hailing from Gympie in Queensland, previously best known for Melbourne Cup-winning jockeys and strange hills shaped like pyramids, The Amity Affliction is – like Airbourne and Parkway Drive – yet another Australian band from a small town who are making it big both locally and overseas.
“It might have something to do with the fact that there’s nothing to do out in Gympie. Writing music is something to do that’s fun if you don’t want to play football or any of those normal things people do in a country town,” bass player and vocalist Ahren Stringer says. “If you don’t fit in with that category of footy and whatever, there isn’t much going for you!”
The last eight years have seen them go from playing at assemblies in high school to becoming one of the biggest bands in the country. How might something like that affect a bunch of dudes from a small town?
“Well it’s not so much of a shock considering it’s been about eight years since we started the band. We’ve gradually worked our way up… it wasn’t sort of an overnight thing,” says Stringer. “But I guess looking back on it, yes, it’s pretty amazing playing in a band in high school on assembly to selling out shows all over the country. But we put in the hard yards. I guess we’ve just learned to deal with it.”
Already this year they have appeared at Soundwave, toured the US and been around Australia with the reformed I Killed the Prom Queen. Come October, The Amity Affliction will be on their Fuck the Reaper tour with Asking Alexandria and Skyway. Most shows have already sold out. They’re busy – and popular – lads.
“And then after that we’re going straight to England and Europe and then America,” says bass player and vocalist Ahren Stringer during a rare period of downtime for the band. “We’ve just had the biggest break the band’s had in a couple of years, I reckon. We had three months off, most of which was spent chilling out and starting to write the new record.”
Last year’s Youngbloods album was the culmination of their years of hard work, peaking at #6 on the national chart. It went on to be nominated in the Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album category of the ARIA Awards, eventually losing out to Parkway Drive’s Deep Blue. For a band that has gotten to be where they are with virtually no radio or TV airplay, mainstream press exposure or the support of a major label, some would suggest that acknowledging The Amity Affliction with a nomination is tokenistic at best.
“To be honest,” Stringer says, “it doesn’t really matter to us. I guess it’s a milestone but at the same time it doesn’t really change anything. It’s nice, but it doesn’t worry us. Getting awards doesn’t make us sleep at night: knowing we have fans out there that care about us is the important thing.”
To tide over those fans until the next album is completed, Youngbloods is about to be re-issued in time for the tour. As it’s barely more than a year old and has already sold well before, this new version comes with some extra goodies added as an incentive.
“The two tracks that weren’t released, b-sides from Youngbloods, are gonna be on there,” the bassist explains. “There’s gonna be a DVD about the making of Youngbloods with an interview with everyone from the band. It’s not like a full-length DVD, but we’re hoping to do an actual, full-on DVD with our next release.”
With Australia all but conquered, The Amity Affliction is seriously turning their attention to the world stage. For a few weeks at the beginning of the year they hit the States to begin working their way up from the bottom of the pile again.
“We did a 30-date tour of America before the tour with Prom Queen this year. Which was pretty hard, driving every day, sometimes nine-hour drives and opening for four other bands”, Stringer says. “But you’ve gotta do it if you wanna crack it in America, otherwise there’s just no point.”
And despite the fact that none of their music has yet been released in America, the group discovered they already have a small and dedicated following there.
“There was a handful of fans at almost every show we played. And dedicated fans too, right up the front singing every word. Which is cool, because we don’t even have a release over there yet. That’s pretty amazing. The power of the Internet. I don’t know where we’d be without the Internet.”
Stringer says The Amity Affliction will start recording a new album in March 2012, which should see it released by the middle of next year. Until then, they have a wealth of hard work ahead of them on the roads and stages of Australia and the western Hemisphere. But Ahren Stringer wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Oh man, I’m loving every minute of it!” he says. “Hopefully it doesn’t end here!”