The Amazons get ready to scale new heights in 2018

The Amazons. Picture by Dan Harris
The Amazons. Picture by Dan Harris

Since forming in 2014, Reading rockers The Amazons have been on a dizzying and relentless upwards trajectory.

And 2017 was their biggest and busiest year yet, as the four-piece toured in far-flung places for the first time, sold out a UK tour and scored a top 10 with their self-titled debut album.

The Guide caught up with frontman Matt Thompson last month, during their first downtime in more than a year.

So how was 2017? 'I'm still recovering, man,' he laughs. 'We’re doing all right, we’re all in different parts of the worlds now. January we’ve had completely free – we've been rehearsing for the new tour in February, writing the new record, and for the past couple of week’s Joe (Emmett)’s been in South Africa for his honeymoon, Chris (Alderton) has been in Sweden. We’ve all gone missing a little bit. It’s been quite nice actually – it’s the calm before the storm.

'Last year there was pretty much no time where we had more than three days off from each other. It wasn’t just shows, it was rehearsals, TV, or promo, so where I haven’t seen the guys for ages, it is kind of weird.'

Now however, the band are heading out on a short tour, featuring their biggest headline shows so far.

'The break has been nice, but I’m itching to get back on the road, I can’t wait at all.

'We finished the year on a European tour where we playing smaller venues, because we haven’t been there as much, so to come back with our biggest shows ever with no build-up is slightly scary, but I think if everything goes to plan they will be very good shows.'

Following the release of several well-received singles and EPs, the band were named in several 'ones to watch' lists for 2017, including the influential BBC's Sound of... By the time their album came out in May, were they feeling the pressure?

'We’re on a major label, so you think, right we need to get a top 40 hit so we can make another album, but that whole week was a blur.

'As soon as we released the album, we were doing two in-store shows a day in HMVs all over the country, so we were on this gruelling acoustic tour and trying to keep up with stuff.

'When the first midweeks came in we were doing Radio 1’s Big Weekend. We were on first on the big tent stage, so we had to get there early and we were all bleary-eyed, when we were told we had come in at number four. They said we’re not sure if you’re going to hold on to the top 10, and we were like, "that’s fine".

'The day before the chart finishes, all the streaming numbers come in, and you get these huge acts who released their album a year before that people are still listening to and they come crashing in which pushes you out. But we held strong and people bought our records and we kept the momentum up and we held on to the top 10.

'We really didn’t expect it.'

'Knowing that we’d made the top 10 and that people were connecting with our music was a real boost, and for a debut rock record, that doesn’t happen a lot – our contemporaries and peers who were putting out brilliant albums and not quite doing the same made it special.'

Playing Glastonbury for the first time, was also a stand-out moment, as was heading to Japan.

'A massive highlight for us was going to Japan for the first time and playing the Fuji Rock festival. When you’re 5,000 miles from home with no idea how you’re going to be received, we thought this is never going to work…

'But we had a packed tent full of people singing (early single) Junk Food Forever after we’d left the stage. We came back on stage and were bowing, it was mental. That was the most "pinch me" moment for me. We’re going back there in March.'

And as he previously mentioned, the band are already working on album two.

'I would describe it as the tentative first steps. It took us four years unconsciously to write the first record - but we didn’t know we were writing an album, and that’s the best way to do your debut record.

'We wrote songs to fill up time at (Reading venue) The Purple Turtle, then you write better songs to replace those ones and before you know it, you’ve got a good tally of songs.

'But this is a different process, it’s coming along, you can have all the ideas in the world about you want it to be, but nothing beats going and actually doing it and working it out as you go along.

'I still think the first album is like a jumble sale, and you could think that get the jist that The Amazons aren’t quite sure what they want to sound like. If you listen to (old singles and debut album tracks) Stay With me and Black Magic, they’re quite different. To me, in time periods they were written pretty far apart.'

What can we expect from the second album, then?

'I think it’s quite interesting that the band is still on the path to finding it’s definitive sound. It's way more interesting to hear someone experiment.

'There will be experimenting - but it will still be rock’n’roll, that’s for sure.'

The Pyramids Centre, Southsea

Friday, February 9