Latest release: Let the Ocean Take Me (Roadrunner/Warner)
Saturday afternoon of the Queen’s Birthday weekend in Sydney and the line stretches from Utopia’s front door and around the corner down into Haymarket. It’s day two of The Amity Affliction’s album signing tour and the response, naturally enough, has been huge. The band faces a week of wrist cramps after three straight days of it, but for founding member and bass player Ahren Stringer it’s just another day of giving fans what they want.
“They’re great,” he says of the events, a few days out from the release of his band’s latest album, Let the Ocean Take Me, which going on form should hit the chart running. “It gives the kids a chance to meet us and say G’day, and promote the album.”
Given The Amity Affliction’s current popularity, the band’s music all but promotes itself. The album’s latest single ‘Don’t Lean on Me’ has already blitzed YouTube with over a million clicks and the national youth broadcaster has been all over it, giving it Feature Album status in its week on release. Their second album for Roadrunner, Amity worked on Let the Ocean Take Me with master metalcore producer Will Putney, whose past credits include fellow Aussies Northlane and Thy Art is Murder, among others. Stringer himself couldn’t be happier with it.
“Just in general, I think that it’s our best work and we’re proud of it. I think it’s the first record that everyone in the band has been 100% stoked on,”he says. “Our song writing abilites and getting better, and our performances… in general, as a band, we’ve really showed our full potential. The last album I’m still stoked and super proud of, but this one is definitely a step up for us.”
Reviews have so far been positive. Several critics have remarked on the impact of recent recruit Dan Brown, who makes his recording debut with The Amity Affliction after a tenure of almost two years and stints with various other bands. Guitarist Brown has been praised for adding further clout to the group’s song writing.
“Everyone contributes,” Stringer says of the creative process. “Basically, we get home and we all write on our own – me, Troy and Dan and then we get together with all of our songs and go through them with a fine comb and better them. That way, everyone’s happy and everyone gets input into each song and then Joel writes all the lyrics and I’ll put all of his lyrics through the songs. Basically I’ll do a rap track and say where I think everything should be placed and then I’ll think about my lyrics that I want to sing. It just comes together from there.”
The Amity Affliction is off this week to England to feature at the Download festival, where they’ll share a stage this coming Friday with Opeth, Anathema and letlive. Following that, they’ll be on a full European jaunt. In between, however, Stringer and his bandmates are returning to Australia to play a special show in the north Queensland town of Mackay. It sounds like madness – travelling halfway around the world and back for one show – but coming from a regional area himself, Stringer emphasises the importance of taking their music to such an audience.
“We just need to go to places like that to keep the kids there happy because they miss out on a lot of tours – and we’re going to do a regional tour too, but I can’t say when, probably next year.” he says. “Those places are very starved for music and it’s good to get out there and play for them.”
This European tour will only be their third due to The Amity Affliction’s concerted North American efforts. So far Amity has toured the US six times, including an eventful sojourn on the Vans Warped tour when both lead vocalist Joel Birch and drummer Ryan Burt had to be replaced by stand-ins at several shows. Overall, however, it paid dividends for them when they returned there recently.
“We just came back from a tour of the US with Bless the Fall and Silverstein, and that was just amazing for us. Because we did the Warped tour last year, when we came back the response we got was just tenfold. It’s great that America’s listening to us and coming along to our shows, because we’ve been there so many times. That was the sixth tour we’ve done, and finally we’re seeing some progression.”
While it is still very much a grind, it’s slowly becoming easier with every visit, and the benefits are pleasing on a personal level for Ahren and the band at the very least.
“It’s getting easier”, he says. “Like I said, the response has been better than it’s ever been, but it was a hard slog all those five tours previous. And it still is hard touring America because I reckon you would spend, on average, six days just sitting in the van. And we are stuck in a tiny van, because we can’t afford a bus. So it is a hard slog, but the rewards are great, playing shows every night and hearing people singing your words, halfway across the world.”