Mancunian trio Amplifier have recently been described as the "biggest
three piece on Earth" and their debut album "psychedelic and
rifftastic". Can they live up to the hype? Clive Drew catches up
with bass player Neil Mahony for a chat.
C: Hi Neil, how are you and where are you?
N: I'm very well thanks, I'm at home at the moment with my sound engineer,
recovering from last night! We played a gig at a little place called
The Witchwood in Ashton under Lyne which the local council want to close
down. It's really cool place, so it was kind of a benefit show for that,
trying to raise funds. We then had a massive party afterwards so I'm
a little wasted now!
C: How long have you been together and how did you form?
N: We've been together for about five years now. Sel (guitar/vox) and
Matt (drums) worked together and were in a band, although I don't think
things were really working out. I was working in their local record
shop, and one day they came in and asked me to play bass for them. I
was originally a guitarist, and of course I refused! However, they came
in and gave me a tape and told me to get really stoned and listened
to it; I did and I realised it was something I definitely wanted to
be part of! I don't think I'd ever go back to playing guitar again,
when you're onstage playing bass it's just amazing, - it's great when
you really hit the low strings!
C: What stuff did you grow up listening to?
N: Well I had three brothers so I was influenced by a lot of the stuff
they had on. Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin at first, and then I had
my indie stage when I started listening to bands like the Stone Roses,
and House of Love. House of Love were a fantastic band, even though
a lot of people don't know about them. After that I basically reverted
back to rock again.
C: Is this what really influences your music?
N: Yeah, pretty much. We sort of share the same influences as people
like My Red Cell. Other people like the Deftones and Tool are bands
that have been influenced by similar stuff to us.
C: You've been described as being the "biggest three piece
on Earth", did you always set out to make music as vast-sounding
as you do now?
N: When we got together, it was really clear that there was something
special between the three of us. Our music is pretty expansive, but
we've always wanted to keep it as a three-piece, we've never really
been tempted to get another guitarist or a keyboard player. We create
new sounds with what we've got already. The name 'Amplifier' comes from
just making things sound bigger.
C: What was it like supporting the likes of Auf Der Maur and the
N: It was really great. Every musician we meet tends to be friendly
and none of the American bands have the 'attitude' that you might think
they have, or if they do they don't show it in front of us. I only met
Chino from the Deftones and he just said 'Hey dude', but there was no
restrictions there as to what we could and couldn't do. Gary Numan was
a really nice bloke, - he invited us into his dressing room for a bit,
despite all his family and friends being there. We ended up staying
there for about half an hour, we were obviously quite awestruck! Melissa
Auf Der Maur was really friendly as well, she came in and introduced
herself and made us feel at home.
C: What was that Auf Der Maur show like at the Mean Fiddler (London),
because people have said you were fantastic there!?
N: Really?!? We almost didn't get there in the end! We were stuck in
traffic on the way down, and we were about to turn round and go home,
but luckily it cleared and we managed to get there, drag our equipment
into the venue and take to the stage! We literally arrived with ten
minutes to spare, but then all the equipment stopped working! We thought
it went really badly, but some people thought it was the best show we'd
C: You received a lot of positive reviews in magazines such as Kerrang!
and the NME. Do you feel pressured at all by the hype?
N: Not at all, I can tell you we've received some really scathing reviews
as well! I try not to read them, but I end up doing so, in a way it
just spurs us on. At the end of the day, this is what we want to do,
and to be honest we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves otherwise!
Neil goes on to say he's looking forward to the band's forthcoming
UK headline tour, and invites us to have 'a few beers' with the band
if ever we catch them live. With a slot at the Download Festival and
a critically-lauded debut album, the future looks bright for Amplifier.
Amplifier's eponymous debut is out now on the Music
for Nations label, and they play the Oxford Zodiac on June 12th.