Matt Thomson, an English singer songwriter, best known for being the front man for The Amazons, chats with Kevin Cooper about how he managed during lockdown, the highlight of his career, their latest album How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? and their forthcoming 2022 tour of the UK.

Matt Thomson is an English singer songwriter who is best known for being the vocalist and guitarist for The Amazons, a band hailing from Reading, Berkshire which was formed in 2014.

Their self titled album rose to number eight on the UK albums chart in 2017, the same year that they were named a band to listen to in 2017 by NME, The Independent and BBC Radio 1. The band were also included in MTV’s and the BBC’s Brand New for 2017 and Sound of 2017 long lists respectively. AllMusic described them as an indie rock group known for crafting catchy and melodic arena rock anthems suitable for singing along.

In 2019 they released their second album which reached number nine in the UK charts and would have been more pro-active had Covid not hampered their ambitions. In September 2022 they released their third album How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? which has been their most successful as it reached number five in the charts.

Whilst on the tour bus heading towards the first night of their tour in Dublin Matt Thomson took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Matt, how are you?

I’m very well thanks Kevin, how are you doing?

All is good thanks for asking, and before we move on, let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Not at all, it is an absolute pleasure. In fact, I will always have time to speak to someone from Nottingham; it is one of my favourite cities in the whole of the UK, so thank you.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at the moment is good thanks. We are currently parked up in some totally anonymous service station as we are on our way to Dublin for a gig tomorrow so we are all really buzzing, and we are really excited.

Having read the back story regarding the new album, it would appear that you have managed to put lockdown to good use?

Yes, I did, massively. It was such a long period of time that it was almost impossible not to write a record. I defy any musician not to have written enough music to be able to put out a record. I read a lot of interviews with artists around lock down who felt almost like they were debilitated by that initial lock down. I personally felt that the whole experience was just so long. I went through chapters of being completely devoid of any inspiration to then being really on it and being able to write lots of music. I really went through those phases big time. At one point I didn’t even pick up a guitar for at least a month. I found myself feeling so anxious that I began to find myself in that kind of fight or flight kind of mode, which I have to say is not really conducive with being creative and free. I literally found myself going through a whole spectrum of experiences during the past two years; those mid-winter lock downs took everything to a different level; it was just horrible, really horrible.

Well, moving onto something good that came out of lock down, the new album, How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?. I have been playing it for a couple of weeks now and I have to say that I love it.

Thank you, I really do appreciate that.

I know that the line How Will I Know If Heaven Can Find Me is actually the first line of the chorus of the first track on the album, How Will I Know? but whose idea was it to use it as the title of the album?

(Laughter) you certainly have been listening to the album haven’t you. We started with the song, and it was at that stage that we were trying really hard to come up with a title for the album, which for us, is most probably the hardest part of recording an album. It was our drummer Joe (Emmett) who said, “why don’t we use this line as the title, How Do I Know If Heaven Can Find Me?” to which our first reaction was, ‘wow, that’s pretty long’ (laughter). Having said that I think that is what we all actually liked after a while. I wanted the tile of the album to frame the rest of the record in a really emotional way. And I think that is really what we wanted the title to do.

A lot of the fans are saying that it is your best work to date, would you agree with that?

Absolutely yes, I think so because I think that it is a fruition of the two previous albums and from the lessons that we learnt whilst making those albums. I feel that it is the most honest and the most real Amazons record where we have found ourselves the most. I still love it which has to be a good sign. I really do feel that there are some great tracks on there.

There is most definitely a shift in style isn’t there?

Yes, there is, I think this album is more reflective honestly to what we all listen to. We have been together in this band for eight years now and we no longer all listen to the same music. We all have different inspirations; we have different influences from what we had when we first started out. I feel that our creative output has every right to reflect that personal journey of ultimately loving music; it being fluid and ever changing which actually keeps everything fresh and exciting. I, as a fan, I want that to be reflected in my favourite type of music.

At this moment in time, I currently have three go to tracks, they are Wait For Me, In The Morning and Northern Star and I have to say that Wait For Me and In The Morning have festivals written all over them. Was that intentional?

(Laughter) when we wrote those particular tracks, festivals were most definitely on our minds. Festivals, touring and live shows in the real thick of lock down that was most definitely on our minds when we were making decisions such as ‘what kind of music are we trying to make here’. It made us concentrate on the energy of the individual tracks and consider if they would work live. We were certainly pushing against the kind of doldrums Groundhog Day environment that we were all living in at that time. Festivals really are the light at the end of the tunnel for us. Both of those songs are really reminiscent of the music that we were listening to when we first started thinking of forming the band. Back in the day when we were all fifteen and sixteen years old, and back in 2000 and 2011 I loved Arcade Fire and The Bombay Bicycle Club, at that time. And having said that, I still like those songs and I feel that those songs reflect that.

You have been quoted as saying that this album is your ‘most enjoyable album yet’. What is it that makes you say that?

Let me put it this way, the last record was pretty dark if I am honest and I think that generally we wanted to come up with something which was lighter, a little brighter, and I genuinely think that the latest album is more productive; I don’t need to write songs that are too bizarre, I just felt that these songs were more defiant, more pushing back to write something that was more uplifting, joyous, out of a dark and challenging situation.

I think that I know the answer to this question but, are you looking forward to being back out on the road?

I have to be totally honest with you and say that it is beyond that. There is a quote by the late Bill Shankly whilst he was manager of Liverpool. He said, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude.

I can assure you it is much, much more important than that” then that is what touring and being out on the road means to me.

Sunday 9th October you are playing Rock City here in Nottingham. Just what makes Rock City a must play venue?

I personally think that Rock City is probably more intimate than a lot of the larger venues. I think that it has an incredible history, and I think that it has an atmosphere that is hard to tap. It really is unexplainable, but instantly recognisable. Whenever you go to Rock City, I think that people know what is about to go down. I have been to gigs at Rock City as a punter and I just think that people know exactly what goes down at Rock City.

What can we expect from the gig?

That’s a great question, as we are insanely stressed at the moment because this is without doubt the hardest set that we have ever tried to pull off and there is a hell of a lot of different things for The Amazons. For example, the lighting and the production are a lot more purposeful in telling the story of this record which is totally different for us. There are a lot more elements within the set that are narrative; they are telling the story of this record. We wanted to create an atmosphere; we want people to feel like they are living inside this record. There is a house on the cover of the album which has a bedroom illuminated, and I wanted everyone to be in that building. I wanted everyone to be in that bedroom; that is what I wanted to create with this record on this tour. And if we manage to pull it off then that would be great (laughter).

How many of the new songs have made it onto the set list for the tour?

That is ten out of eleven.

Which track has missed the cut and why?

I don’t think that we are going to be playing For The Night or if we do it will be some way down the line. The reason for that is that we already have ballads from other parts of our discography but, having said that, we are already rehearsing and arranging For The Night for later shows. To be totally honest with you, we simply did not have the time to put it together.

You have mentioned eight years in the business, have you enjoyed the ride so far?

Yes, I have, but there is a caveat to accompany that statement. That is that I want to do it more. I want to do it for eight more years.

Has the fact that the band personal has stayed constant throughout the eight years helped in any way?

Yes, or at least I think so (laughter). That makes it more special when you have a bond with the boys in the band, because we all have gone through something that is very specific which only we understand. I would try to describe it along the lines of The Hobbit in The Lord Of The Rings where they only understand what has gone on between themselves. I think that would be more heightened if you had a crazy experience like One Direction or someone like that. In our own little way, it is our experience together and that won’t change whatever happens in the future.

Putting you on the spot what has been the highlight of your career so far?

That’s easy, that would be making this record and getting it out there for the fans. It all begins with the music and once I feel like this is the album that we have got to write, then everything is simply the icing on the cake.

And on the other side of the coin, what has been the biggest disappointment?

That really is a great question. Thinking about it, I honestly don’t think that we have had any huge disappointments. However, we sometimes have a cumulative feeling when, for example, we don’t manage to sell out a venue, and all those sorts of things, but these are small things and are not huge. If you are making music that you love with people that you like, then I feel that you really can get through that stuff. That really is a great question, and I would like you to make sure that you ask everyone, as I feel that you may get some very interesting answers (laughter).

Putting you on the spot, what was the first record that you bought?

That was Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park.

Who did you first see performing live?

That was the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Heroes by the late David Bowie.

On that note Matt let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great.

Thanks very much Kevin, it has been a pleasure speaking to you and I hope to see you in Nottingham.