When Amber Lamps formed for a high school music class last year, they never imagined that one year later they would be winning the FReeZA Push Start Battle of the Bands Grand Final in 2011. Representing the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Amber Lamps beat 271 talented young Victorian bands who took part in the annual competition. Drummer Jackson McRae tells us a bit about his band’s history.
Please introduce us to your band members and what each member brings to the band.
Members of the band are:
• Henry Hammersla- lead vocals, rhythm guitar
• Hamish Patrick- lead guitar, backing vocals
• Mitchell Fuller- bass, synth
• Jackson McRae- drums, percussion
• Joe Melling- piano, backing vocals
Where are you from and how did Amber Lamps form?
We live all over Melbourne, but all go to school together at Melbourne High School in South Yarra. We got together as a band in early 2010 for a VCE music subject, though it eventually developed as an outside-school activity.
How would you describe the style of music that you play? What bands influenced you?
We have been described as sounding like “Radiohead mixed with Mumford and Sons”, Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay and oddly enough The Beach Boys. (no quotes) Overall we would say we play alternative rock and are influenced by bands such as Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Mutemath, Ben Folds, Coldplay, and Muse, as well as having our own individual influences or musicians that we admire.
How do you think your music has progressed from when you first started to now?
We feel that it has definitely become a more serious matter than what it used to be. As said above, it started as a school project with a simple goal – put some songs together, and succeed in playing our end-of-year exam. But soon we became more and more confident about our ability, and decided to have a crack at the Push Start competition, thinking that it would be good experience, it would help the band as a school project, and it would be a fun way to spend a Friday night.
Never did we expect to even win the heat, let alone pass through the finals and win! Through the whole experience we became more sure of ourselves as performers and songwriters, which has led to our music becoming what it is today.
How have FReeZA helped you guys in the past?
FReeZA gave us the opportunity to get our music out there through their Push Start Competition.
What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?
Only a few months into our existence, we offered to play a set at the acoustic room at our school’s dance. For most of the night, the room hosted quiet acoustic guitarists playing to an audience sitting on the floor and chatting. When we arrived on stage, the small classroom packed out, everyone was up on their feet jumping, and we collectively realised that we could really do something with this band. We went on to apply for the Push Start competition, which we followed through to our unbelievable success at Push Over.
What was it like making it all the way through to the finals and then winning?
It was an awesome experience and we are ecstatic that we won. We never thought that we were going to make it this far, let alone win the competition.
So what’s next for you guys?
We are looking at recording an EP in late 2011 and getting that into the vast world of music. Also there is the possibility of taking a gap year next year and heading over to try our luck in the USA.
What can we expect from going to see an Amber Lamps live show?
Come for the music, stay for the free bass picks and drumsticks that always fly into the crowd!
As a young band in the music industry, have you faced any challenges or opportunities? How have you overcome them?
Some of the main problems we have had is access to gear such as amps and a PA. We got by through favours from people at school and eventually saving up for our own equipment.
Do you have some advice for other young bands coming up in the music industry?
If you’re anything like us before we got involved with Push Start, your music is probably a lot better than you think it is! Have some band confidence and get your music out there by entering competitions such as Push Start or Triple J Unearthed.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Amber Lamps at www.facebook.com/theamberlamps