Originally from Preston, Lancashire in the Northwest of the United Kingdom, The Amber List‘s sound is a classic indie, guitar-driven sound that is rich with melody, suffused with harmonies, and infused with atmospheric elements. With previously released records on Virgin and Action records and supporting artists including The Stone Roses, Gene, Hard-fi, The Saw Doctors, and Bronski Beat, all three members of the band have flirted with the limelight in the past.

It is no surprise that The Amber List has recently been nominated for the ‘Best Indie Band’ award by a major internet radio station, as well as having several of their highly acclaimed EPS and album tracks being regularly played on many indie radio stations around the world.

Recently, the band released a new single titled ‘Another Sunset,’ and we were eager to learn more about the song, the band’s creative process, and their future plans.

Hello! Thanks for sitting down with us to talk about music, inspiration, and more! For starters, when did you get the music bug? Can you recall your first-ever musical experience?

Mick Shepherd: We all began playing music in our teens: punk, garage bands rehearsing on cheap guitars with old valve amps. Our earliest influences stem from that DIY ethic that said anyone can have a go.

When creating a musical project, the name is usually more essential than everything else. Was the name “The Amber List” already on your mind, or did you have to sift through a number of possibilities before settling on the best one?! Does it have any hidden meaning?

We were originally called ‘Works Unit Only’ but changed to ‘The Amber List’ which somehow seemed to suit us better. The meaning comes from endangered birds that go on a list to help prevent them from becoming extinct. Pre Covid the name felt like it had a bit of mystique and we liked that. After Covid people thought The Amber List referred back to the pandemic but we pre-date that!

For a fan-to-be who may not have yet heard a The Amber List track but is reading this as their introduction into your world, how would you describe your sound and where it’s going?

Our sound is guitar-driven, high on melodies and punchy rhythms. I guess you’d describe it as Indie Rock, that’s certainly where people tend to place us. The first album had acoustic and folky elements too but this next album (due out before the end of the year) definitely feels much rockier with more energy and immediacy in the songs. The first album sold out but is still available online.

We have a new EP out imminently which includes some live favorites we haven’t released before and a couple of new arrangements of older tracks. We wanted to put this out as people had been asking if some of the songs would ever see the light of day in physical form. With the new album already halfway through we thought it’d be cool to put an ep out for the summer.

What are the elevator pitches for your music that’ll make people have to listen?

With a sound recalling the best indie from the late 80’s/ early ’90s coupled with strong vocal melodies reminiscent of the best 60’s pop, The Amber List creates a sound that is at once, retro, fresh, and vibrant.

When listeners make their way through your band, what do you want them to feel?

A joyous uplifting that only the best music can give you! Both live and in recorded form.

Take me through your sound design process. Does the conception come first or do the songs evolve naturally – do you have a clear idea of what it will be before you start to make it?

Our songs can develop from a range of approaches. Someone may have a riff, a vocal melody, a bass line, or a beat. The process is fluid and our approach to sorting doesn’t really follow a set pattern or formula. We all contribute and through ideas into the mix which is what gives The Amber List sound its vibrancy and range of influences.

How do you know when a track is ready? Does it ever become difficult to refine ideas or stop perfecting?

Yeah! We do shelve some songs and might come back to them later. Some are immediately upon us and we will all know it’s a goer whereas others we’ll labor over until we get it right. And you just know when that is. Something just feels right. Some songs we know immediately will work live and others we think, that’s going to work in the studio, but it might not make the live set.

“Another Sunset” is the latest single you’ve released. Can you introduce us to its creative process? What were your influences on this track?

The bass riff and drum pattern were something we’d been jamming around with, and once we added the vocal melody and guitar riff it came together very quickly. It really was one of those songs where all the component parts jelled almost immediately. As far as influences go, Echo and The Bunnymen and REM are never far away and always served as good reference points for us.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

As stated earlier we don’t follow any rules around the creative process and tend to go with the flow. That seems to work for us and we’re never short of ideas. The only thing we are quite regular about is getting together as a band which we do at least once a week. We bat ideas and thoughts backwards and forwards online daily too. The rest seems to follow.

I also want to ask you about the bands that have been continuous influences for you, but also about new bands and new records that you think are exciting in the indie scene.

Yeah, obviously Bunnymen, REM, Smiths, The Cure, Buzzcocks, JAMC, etc…, our formative years were spent listening to these bands and those influences inevitably seep through into our sound. There’s still so much great stuff out there and it depends on the mood but Courtney Barnett, This is the Kit, Villagers, BC Camplight they’re all getting some serious play right now!

In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences – and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?

Well, it’s a melting pot when it comes to music and we all have personal favorites and personal influences. Politically we’re all on the same page and that does come out in the songs. Sometimes overtly. Through recent musical history, our surroundings and the current climate have driven artistic ventures and we’re certainly living with that right now.

What other creative outputs do you engage in that we may not suspect?

Tony has recently been producing other bands and spending a lot more time being creative in the studio. Mick also paints and exhibits his work locally. Simon is responsible for a lot of our design and online media presence.

What do you hope to do with your art in the future? I mean, do you have any crazy goals?

We’ve always wanted our music to reach as many people as possible. In today’s climate, it’s difficult for bands to play original material but we are fortunate to have venues that readily invite us back and people who like what we do. We’re enjoying the ride, even after all this time so we’ll keep going until the wheels drop off!

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