With the release of their latest album, Truth In Sincerity, Amber Pacific (Matt Young on vocals, Will Nutter on guitar/backup vocals/keyboard, Greg Strong on bass, Dango on drums, and Rick Hanson on guitar) have proven that you can grow as musicians without deserting the sound that brought fans to you in the first place. Staying true to their pop/punk roots, Truth In Sincerity delivers with catchy riffs, addictive melodies, and creatively structured choruses. Even though the songs flow in typical Amber Pacific fashion you can clearly pick up where the band has dialed it up a few notches. Matt’s vocals show vast improvement, Will’s guitar playing hits a new level, and the band as a whole seems to be working as a much more cohesive unit. Oh, the band decided to introduce a few new sounds into the mix as well. Keep your ears open for the strings.
While Amber Pacific emits a funloving attitude there’s one thing they take very seriously – their music and the relationship it affords them with their fans. They always bring it 100 percent onstage and 110 percent offstage – bonding with fans and taking time to actually get to know them on a personal level, even some of their songs have been inspired by people they’ve met along the way. I guess you could say that they’re making the most of it.
Currently out on the road with Yellowcard and SUM 41, the band was cool enough to take time out of their busy touring schedule on the opening Sundy of NFL season and watching their hometown team the Seattle Seahawks beat up on Tampa Bay to sit down with TWRY Staffer Stacie to talk about the new album, the constant touring, and what it means to be a member of Amber Pacific.
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | September 2007
Your latest album, Truth In Sincerity, came out a few months ago – can you walk us through a few of your favorite tracks on it and how they came about both musically and lyrically?
Will: I think my favorite track is “Take Me From This Place” because I think we got to do the most with it. We’ve got a little bit of piano in there and some strings from the Seattle Symphony who came in and played for the track. It was our first real ballad song we’ve ever had, so I thought that was really cool and something different that we hadn’t done yet.
That was actually one of my questions. You have some notable sound including the strings and the piano. How did that come about? How did you get involved with the Seattle Symphony?
Will: Hmm, how *did* that come about?
Matt: Well, our producer knows them.
Will: Oh yes! Our producer got it all together for us. He arranged everything for the strings, he knew the three string players from the Seattle Symphony.
Whenever a new album comes out and you are following up work that you’ve done in the past. You have critics who complain if you work doesn’t mature from album to album while fans often complain if band’s change their sound at all. You’ve stayed pretty true to your sound from your previous cd, is this by design? And what would you say to critics who were looking for some sort of evolution?
Will: I’d tell them to fuck off.
Will: We really don’t pay any attention to that because we are going to do what we are going to do and people are going to have their opinions.
Dango: I’d tell them to start their own band!
Will: Yeah! They can start their own band and play the music that they like! We play what we like. Greg came up with the title “Truth and Sincerity” and and that says exactly what we did with the record. We wanted to be true and honest to our fans and we wanted to keep it real.
Dango: I also think that if you listen from the first to the second record, the playing has improved the band is a lot tighter, you can just tell that it is a better band than it was before. The singing is better, the vocals… everything about it is a step up. People can say we haven’t progressed just because we didn’t put out an artsy record, but we’ve definitely progressed as people.
There are a couple of songs on the album that were inspired from deeper issues and getting on a more personal level from people you’ve met and come in contact with (“Gone So Young” and “Follow Your Dreams and Forget the Scene”). Friends you’ve lost, this patient that you got to spend the day with through the Make A Wish Foundation. Do you feel that it is important to connect on some sort of a deeper level with your fans?
Will: Yes, absolutely! I think we’ve realized the kind of impact we can have on people. We’ve talked to a lot of people and we’ve been out on the road for a long time and met a lot of people, we’ve probably met 90% of our fan base. Hearing stories about how our music has helped them has really touched us all. What a great way to send out a positive message, by just writing songs that don’t talk about cutting wrists and stuff but positive things that kids can relate to and use as a way to get through certain situations.
Amber Pacific kickin it on their tour bus – Photo by Stacie
Can you tell me how much of an impact Ashley, the fan you met through Make A Wish, made on your guys, and how she inspired you?
Dango: We are a part of her life and she considers us part of her family now. It’s not like any of our fans are ever a one time situation, we see them five, six… eight times. We know their life and we remember for the most part, this person is going through this or this person is going though that. I think that means a lot to people. People are so used to seeing bands walk on stage, play and walk off.
It’s so nice to connect on some sort of another level with your fans. Knowing that you remember them is big for them, and you guys being inspired by some of your fans, as well. That is what it’s all about!
Dango: They’re people, they matter! They are the reason we keep playing, because they keep coming to the shows. So whether they consider us a friend or consider us a family to look up to, they still like the music so either way it’s pretty neat.
So would it be fair to say that you feel it’s important to be a positive role model for young kids, teens and young people who are out there listening to your music?
Matt: Yes! Our overall purpose as a band is that we want to be positive role models and we want to be an influence in everything from our writing, to the way we try to carry ourselves, to meeting people. We want people to know that we might not know exactly how they feel but whether its one of us, we’ve all been there, done that. We’ve all had bad days. We’ve had good days. We’re just people. We’re in a band which is cool, but we’re just people.
You can relate?
In a day and age where there are so many people out there who say “It all sounds the same” what do you think sets your sound apart from everyone else in the music scene today?
Will: We ride the horse!
Greg: That’s a little phrase we use in this band. Dango can explain it further, he’s the music major!
Matt: Yeah, Dango! You’re the music major! This is your question!
Dango: Stylistically, we’re still writing songs that are poppy and catchy, have that structure to it, like all the music we grew up on, and you could hear on the radio to some extent. I think one thing that separates us is the speed at we play in a lot of our stuff. Bands aren’t playing the speed that we are very much today. Some of the bands tonight, like Yellowcard and Sum 41, they still do. There isn’t a lot of pop/punk coming out any more that do. We really like that metal thing, and I think that makes us the most unique. That’s one thing different from like 90% of the bands we’ve played with.
So you were a music major?
Dango: I was! I went to a school in Nashville, called Belmont University, which is similar to Berklee, in fact we had a lot of transfers from Berklee. It has a well known staff of pro players that are well respected musicians. I studied a lot of Jazz and Latin. So, people can’t knock me for trying. I can play pop/punk and people can make fun of me, but I can say “You know what? I graduated with a music degree.” I can play most styles of music. We are actually ALL very versatile musicians, and people don’t know that. Rick for example on guitar is also capable of many styles.
Matt: I can play the clarinet…we’re just waiting to bring that out in the next record.
That just reminds me a Ferris Bueller!
Some people think that getting signed is the hard part, but we at TWRY always felt that for a young band the toughest part must be the constant touring, being away from home, and trying to get along. You’ve been on tour for quite some time both before and after the release of your latest album, what kind of strength do you think that brings to you as a band?
Matt: Your time as a band starts when you get signed. That’s when it transforms from being a hobby and being fun to something that you have to work at. The people who don’t work at it are the ones who tend to not be a band for very long. After four years on the road, it’s a lot easier now than it used to be. When we first started we would always drive ourselves. When we did the first Warped Tour we would do 12 hour days and then 6-8 hour drives at night. It’s nice that we are able to enjoy some luxuries now. But, we certainly want to keep working at what we are doing.
Dango: You asked our strengths. I think our unit as a band is pretty impressive. Most bands get close after touring together and there are so many bands that hate each other because personalities don’t work out. But, we are all on the same page and trying to go for the same goal. We all like each other as people, we all hang out while we are on tour, a lot of bands don’t. I think we’re pretty close to each other for the most part.
Will: I’d also like to say that in four years of being on the road we’ve been in ONE support slot. The rest have been headlining tours or co-headlining. We really haven’t had a chance to play in front of a lot of kids yet and make fans till this tour and Warped Tour. It’s been a lot of hard work to get where we are right now.
Were you TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) fans as kids, and what were your first thoughts on getting “Fall Back into My Life” chosen for the obviously fantastic line up on the movie soundtrack?
Matt: YES! Big time! I had all the figures and all the old movies.
Will: Definitely! I had all the VHS tapes of the three movies that were out, and I watched them several times.
The video for Fall Back Into My Life – the concept is the band invades a couple in crisis who are fighting in their bedroom and before you know it the whole town is in the room rocking out. Was the video idea yours or how did it come together? (Check out the video here)
Rick: That was actually the director of the video, that was his idea. We had a very short amount of time to shoot the video, and we didn’t get to get all the shots in that we wanted to. The idea for the video may not have come across the way he proposed it, which was not his fault, it was just a total time thing.
Greg: We were supposed to shoot it like three different times.
Matt: The principal of the video is that we are supposed to be making fun of standard stereotypical guy/girl fighting. It was like “Wait a minute what is this band doing in my bedroom?” You know, like over the top ridiculous.
Greg: Like wow a band is playing in my room all of a sudden!
Matt: Yeah, I’m freaked out! Like over dramatic.
You currently just finished playing the entire Warped Tour, being your fourth year involved. What were the highs and lows during the over all time you’ve been involved, and then over all feeling you took home with you after the tour ended?
Will: That’s a great question!
Dango: This year we were able to hang out more and have a good time. We saw a lot of friends on the tour that we already knew and we made a bunch of new friends. It was awesome!
Matt: Yeah, this year was definitely the high. I got to sing with Hawthorne Heights a couple times and that was pretty sweet. Rick got to play guitar with them a couple times too. Then sitting down and playing poker with band that you remember buying tickets to go and see their shows is pretty crazy! So that was a lot of fun as well. In terms of the lows?
Dango: Also, we got to play in front of some large crowds, some several thousand people crowds, that we wouldn’t have gotten to do somewhere else. That was a Warped Tour exclusive.
Will: This year was the first year that we got bumped to the main stage a couple time. That was really great! Each time we got bumped it was fantastic. In Boston it was one of the bigger shows and we got bumped to the main stage.
Matt: ..and then the lows would be the humility that it gave us the first few times we were out there. Our second year on the tour we only played 11 days but we were on the whole tour.
Dango: Just selling stuff.
So you were booked to play 11 days and you stayed on the tour to sell your stuff to promote yourselves?
Greg: Just to sell our CD and we did.
Matt: That was a decision we made as a band, it wasn’t anyone telling us to do anything. But, that was ALL we could do! Our full length just came out, we didn’t have a booking agent, we didn’t have any tours, that was the only option. IF we don’t do it, we mine as well just quit. So…
Dango: That summer our trailer broke in Canada and we had to buy a new one and a lot of break downs and stuff… so that was all a part of the lows.
I heard that Greg has an air purifier and that Dango doesn’t like anyone messing with his pillow. Is that something that stems from being germ conscious in general, or is that more of an “on tour” practice so that you stay healthy on the road?
Greg: Oh yes I do!
Matt: Is there a bug on the bus?!?
Are you guys always germ conscious?
Matt: I am NOT a germaphobe! These guys are really clean. I am NOT.
Dango: I am. I shower every day on the tour.
Greg: With the air purifier…buses are just nasty. Four hundred bands have been on this bus before us and some smoke and if you have allergies, it’s not good. You can get sick and you can’t breathe. So since I’ve had the air purifier, I don’t get sick on the road any more. Which is awesome.
Will: I just bought one recently.
Dango: I’m extremely clean about everything. I don’t like people touching my pillow among other things… it’s odd information, but it’s true.
Matt: Don’t use Dango’s razor that he uses to shave his head to shave your arms!
Shave your ARMS?!?!
Matt: I was trying to make a joke and I totally flubbed it.
What about the rest of you guys, do you have any little quirky things that you do on the road that maybe you don’t do at home?
Greg: I listen to John Mayer every night before I fall asleep. I don’t do that at home.
Rick: I sleep with ear plugs on the road.
You are on AOL Breakers and you are currently in second place behind Shop Boys “Party Like A Rock Star” do you feel this is an unfair competition considering the play that song has had?
Matt: Absolutely! “Party Like a Rock Star” is a freaking sweet song! How are we going to compete with that?
Dango: If we lose to that, we’ll cover it!
Well you did cover Hilary Duff’s “So Yesterday” and we would like to know what made you choose that song. Were you just trying to go for something totally and completely different or were you playing “Watch This!!!”
Matt: Because that is Rick’s favorite song and he likes to play it all the time.
Will: I was watching a lot of the AOL Sessions Undercover and a lot of these other bands are taking it really seriously which is cool! A lot of them did a great job! I wanted to through a spin on it and do something funny because no one else was really doing that. We though what better song than Hillary Duff because that is about as opposite as you can get.
Greg: Some of the fans took it pretty seriously.
Matt: Some were so mad! I thought it was funny, everyone knows the song!
Will: I think we had a great time doing it.
Dango: Some of us like Hilary Duff and we don’t have a problem saying it.
After this tour with Yellowcard and Sum 41, you’ll be hitting Canada on the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus tour; do you know what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going?
Matt: It’s all up in the air.
Dango: We’ll be on the road, that you can count on!
Matt: We’ll be on the road, and by the end of the year, we will have covered the ENTIRE United States of America!
Closing messages to fans?
Greg: Thank You!
Will: Always! Thank You! Thank You! Thank you for your coming out and supporting. We hope you continue to come support us. Tell your friends to go out and buy our CD.
Dango: We’re selling them for five bucks!
Matt: They are practically FREE!