Latest Release: Chasing Ghosts (Roadrunner/Warner)
Last year, The Amity Affliction joined a very elite club. They became one of a small group of Australian artists to have seen an album debut at the #1 spot on the ARIA albums chart. It put a cap on yet another busy twelve months for the band that included an enormous sold-out national tour, playing at the Big Day Out and signing a worldwide deal with Roadrunner Records. Bassist and vocalist Ahren Stringer is under no illusions about what this means for the band and their next album.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the next album,” he says evenly, “which we’ve got about three months to write after these next couple of tours. We’ll have to really batten down the hatches. We’ve been writing on and off for the previous few months. We’ve got a few songs in the works, just ideas here and there. We just write as we go and then when it comes to the crunch we’ll knuckle down and take it pretty seriously. We got a lot of time on our hands to do it so it should be fun.”
The last twelve months saw another change to the line-up as well, with former Confession guitarist Dan Brown being elevated to the position of permanent guitarist and taking the band’s complement back to five. Brown is the fourth guitarist to line up alongside Troy Brady since The Amity Affliction began their quest for world domination back in Gympie in 2003.
“We’re finally happy with the line-up,” Stringer says. “It’s all good now. Finally after ten years we’re really comfortable with our line-up.”
The band has been active for all that time, and had already put together a string of EPs and one album before their breakthrough Youngbloods hit the Top 10 in 2010. That is the moment that Stringer considers to be the point where The Amity Affliction became a real band, and there’s no doubt the quintet has taken giant strides in that time.
“We’ve only really been a working band for about five years now, or so,” he says. “Since Youngbloods came out we haven’t had to work jobs. I guess that’s really the turning point for me. Before that it was more of, I wouldn’t say a hobby, but it wasn’t like it is now. Now that the band is our actual job it’s much better. We can just focus on it 100%.”
That’s probably just as well. Few bosses would have much patience with employees taking off as much time as these lads would need to be on the road as much as they are. Just before talking to Loud, Stringer and Amity had played across America with the Warped Tour and they barely get time to catch a breath before they’re off to Europe, then home again for a national jaunt through October.
“We’ve just done the Warped tour, and that was by far the best tour we’ve done in America and I think we’re definitely breaking into that market bit by bit,” Stringer says. “We’re getting a bit of airplay over there on college radio and through Spotify and stuff. We were on the Monster stage, so there was a lot of bands like us on there. Even though we were clashing with Bring Me the Horizon, we always had a good crowd. We’re going over to Europe in a couple of weeks and doing a headliner there. So that should be interesting. We’ve never really headlined a tour in Europe, so that should be fun. That should really show us our worth over there, that tour.”
The Amity Affliction is already aware of their worth in Australia. In the decade since they began, Ahren Stringer has seen the style of music his band play surge in popularity not only worldwide but even in Australia, a market that has historically been resistant to the more extreme end of the rock music spectrum.
“Just the fact that bands like us and Parkway are charting and stuff in the mainstream industry is pretty wild,” he observes. “That never really happened back in the day. Bodyjar and Frenzal Rhomb might have charted and done really well on the radio but now there’s a lot more acceptance for heavy music in Australia and, I guess, the world. That’s definitely a huge change in the last decade. It’s a great thing.”
While few would argue the band’s incredible work ethic has had a good deal to do with their success, Stringer is quick to nominate another factor he believes has helped not just Amity, but many of the current crop of heavy bands.
“I think a lot of it might have to do with the Internet,” he says. “Back in the day they didn’t have the Internet as readily available to seek out new bands and music. The Internet’s a very powerful tool and it’s helped so many bands, especially us and Parkway and all the big bands at the moment. I don’t think we’d’ve gotten as far without the Internet. Before that you wouldn’t even find out about shows unless you saw someone handing out flyers on the street or saw a poster or happened to be listening to the radio. Now with Twitter and Facebook and stuff, it’s all there for you.”
Straight off the back of their European trip, The Amity Affliction will return home to headline a tour with Chelsea Grin, Stick to Your Guns and In Hearts Wake providing the undercard. The tour will heave through the country in October, which for some reason known only to the gods of rock is one of the most crowded months for tours in recent memory.
“I think it’s a great thing for kids,” Stringer says. “It’s a bad thing for other bands sometimes. I mean, we’re going up against the Parkway Drive ten-year anniversary tour and then Bring Me the Horizon are coming straight after our tour. It is a busy time of the year, but I’m sure we’ll all survive. Some kids will be like, ‘Will I go to Amity or save my money and see Parkway or Bring Me the Horizon instead?’ or vice versa. It’s a great thing for kids because they’ve got all these choices and they’re probably gonna go broke trying to go to all three shows!”
It will be the first chance local audiences will have had to catch The Amity Affliction since earlier this year when they headlined one of the smaller stages at Soundwave. This stint was their second at the festival, following an early slot on the 2011 tour.
“It was definitely better this time, but that Soundwave was great as well. It was great playing alongside bands I grew up listening to and being able to say I was on the same bill as them is kind of a childhood dream. It was really good for us. We were up against a couple of really big bands but we still had a pretty good crowd so it was great.”
They might be already ten years down the track, but opportunites continue to present themselves to The Amity Affliction. Their next album is likely the one to prove their mettle on the international music scene and it’s probable that true greatness still awaits them further on the road. For his part though, Ahren Stringer is just taking things as they come.
“It’s great to get bigger as a band and play to bigger crowds, but we’re just happy touring the world and having fun, writinging the music we love. Whatever happens, happens.”
The Amity Affliction tour Australia in October with Chelsea Grin, Stick to Your Guns and In Hearts Wake:
18/10: Riverstage, Brisbane QLD*
19/10: Panthers, Newcastle NSW*
20/10: Big Top Luna Park, Sydney NSW*
21/10: The Palace, Melbourne VIC**
23/10: The Palace, Melbourne VIC*** (SOLD OUT)
24/10: The Palace, Melbourne VIC***
25/10: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide SA*
26/10: Metro, Perth WA***
27/10: Metro, Fremantle WA**