Joe Keogh, (seen here second from the left) lead vocalist and guitarist with British band Amber Run, catches up with Kevin Cooper about working at The Rescue Rooms, band member Felix Archer leaving, the release of their latest album For A Moment I Was Lost and their forthcoming tour of the UK
Joe is lead vocalist and guitarist with British band Amber Run. They were originally a five piece band who formed in 2012 after meeting whilst studying at The University of Nottingham. Drummer Felix Archer recently left the band.
Whilst signed to RCA Records they released three EP’s and their debut album, 5am. They have been currently working on their second album which is due for release shortly.
Whilst busy rehearsing for their forthcoming tour of the UK, Joe took some time to answer some questions for Kevin Cooper.
Hi Joe, may I say thanks for giving me some of your time today.
No worries, it is a pleasure.
How is life treating you?
I can’t complain, it is pretty good at the moment.
You formed the band right here in Nottingham. Do you still enjoy the time that you get to spend here in the city?
Yes that’s right, we formed our band here in Nottingham. I won’t lie to you and say that we are all born and bred there but we do have a real affinity with the city. Honestly, I don’t think that we would be where we are now if we hadn’t started our band in Nottingham.
It’s an amazing city, in fact Henry is living there at the moment. But for the rest of us, coming up to Nottingham and hanging out there is always a lot of fun.
Do you have a favourite bar where you all hang out?
We have a few but the Rescue Rooms or the Bodega would be our favourite haunts.
We have some fantastic curry houses here in the city, does anyone in particular take your fancy?
I can’t say that I’ve smashed every curry house in the town, but 4550 Miles From Delhi was really decent the last time I went.
As we all know Felix (Archer) left the band to pursue a solo career. How does it feel now being a four piece?
It feels great. We were obviously sad that Felix left but he had his own ambitions and had to look after himself. The rest of us used his leaving as an opportunity to really air out our problems and talk about our ambitions for the band and the direction that we were going to take. Obviously I’m not glad that our friend didn’t want to make music with us anymore but it was a really healthy and important moment for the rest of us. Amber Run are now in a place where we can enjoy writing and performing music.
I have been playing your latest album For A Moment, I Was Lost for a few days now and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work.
Thanks a lot. That is really appreciated.
Are you all happy with it?
Yeah, we love it.
Would you say that it is your best work to date?
Most definitely, we are very proud of it.
I love Insomniac and Dark Bloom, what are the backstories to those two tracks?
Insomniac was a song that Will brought to us. It’s about looking at yourself and not seeing what you thought you would see. It is about how we glamourise the past and mistrust the present. It’s also a song that developed a lot from us playing it live, which is also a lot of fun.
Dark Bloom is about our relationship to music. It is about how creating music was all that we had ever wanted to do but how it didn’t feel as easy or as glorious as we dreamt it would be. It has got a huge bit at the end which we are all really excited to play live.
Do you have a favourite track off the album?
My favourites are Island and No Answers.
Being a keen vinyl collector for many years now it’s great to see that you have released the album on vinyl.
Vinyl is a beautiful format and a really great thing to be able to make, especially now that streaming is so prevalent.
Have you gone the Feeder way and released the album on cassette?
Yes we have, although we did not print many. But it is a nice collector’s piece.
If people buy a vinyl copy of the album at our shows and they want it signed, then we will make sure that we stick around and sign it. That kind of stuff is really important to us.
You are about to get back out on the road to tour the UK. Does touring still excite you?
Absolutely, it is one of the main reasons that we all wanted to be in a band. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a slog but there is nothing else like it. And the buzz you get performing live is like nothing I have ever experienced.
You are playing Rock City on 10th February what can we expect?
A lot of passion; maybe some tears and lots of songs by the band Amber Run.
Will this be your first time playing Rock City?
Well, we’ve played it for Dot To Dot and supported some friends there, but we’ve never headlined it ourselves. So it will be a really big moment for us.
Did you all go there to see bands when you were living here in the city?
Of course we did. Live music is one of the best things in the world. I used to work at the Rescue Rooms so I would always take the shifts when bands were playing there.
Do you have an experience of Rock City that you can tell me about?
Once when I was working at the Rescue Rooms, I remember going in to Rock City to get a crate of beer for the bar, with a guy that worked with me. I remember telling him that we would headline it one day. He told me to get a grip and hurry up.
Typical British media questions now; describe your music and sound to me?
A typical British band answer; “It’s amazing…”
How did music start for you?
It started when I played a nylon string guitar at a school concert when I was a kid. I smashed my rendition of Good King Wenceslas.
Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
My parents listened to Echo And The Bunnymen and Sonic Youth. So I guess I listened to a lot of that as a kid. I always loved stuff like early Muse and Coldplay as well as amazing vocalists like Jeff Buckley or Nina Simone.
What was the first single you ever bought?
Oh, don’t do this to me. It was Roller Coaster by Ronan Keating.
What was the first album you bought?
It was Showbiz by Muse.
Who did you first see performing live in concert?
It was Blink 182 at Wembley Arena. It was awesome especially as they brought out Robert Smith!
Who has musically inspired you?
Bands like the National and Radiohead are big inspirations to me and the guys.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Playing Koko at the end of our first album campaign last year was a huge moment for us. And for me personally selling out the Rescue Rooms and getting to play there.
What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?
That would be Heavenly Father by Bon Iver.
If you could have written one song in the entire world, what would it have been?
That would be Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley.
On that note, let me thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Have a great gig in Nottingham.
Thanks for that; you’re welcome.