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 Deftones?
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 ever played!

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.

Clive Drew