How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?
The Amazons had always intended that their third record would be a clean slate. “The first two records are in that two-year album cycle that everyone seems to do,” says singer and guitarist Matt Thomson. “We wanted to spend time getting the third one right, whatever happened. And a big old pandemic solidified that plan.” After two albums of spiky indie-rock anthems (2017’s self-titled debut and 2019 follow-up Future Dust), on How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? the Reading quartet make their most expansive and explorative effort yet. While the muscular rock, explosive riffs, and urgent stomps of their previous work remain, they also break new ground with yearning ballads and heartfelt sing-alongs, intricate songwriting set to a grand canvas. “This album says to me that you can get better at your craft,” says Thomson. “It says to me that we have made our best album. I think this is just the beginning of the band.” Wishing to explore the emotional highs and lows of being in a long-distance relationship, Thomson found himself writing about something that had a new resonance. “In the last couple of years, everyone has experienced a long-distance relationship in a way,” he says. “Now was the time to explore it because something that was deeply personal to me turned into one of the most universal things I could talk about.” In creating their third record, The Amazons have redefined who they are as a band. “The heart of the album is finding our North Star of what we’re trying to do with our music,” says Thomson. He and guitarist Chris Alderton take us on a tour of the band’s new album, track by track. “How Will I Know?” Matt Thomson: “This was a sonic blueprint for the album, really. It’s kind of our take on The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley.’ The last real collective experience The Amazons had before lockdown was a six-week tour of the USA. We went right through the middle of the country, through Missouri and Kansas and Denver, on the exact same road, the 70, for four days. And that kind of stuff is the thing you are fantasizing about when you are in a lockdown—those wide-open spaces, the feeling of adventure and freedom. We wanted a soundtrack for that.” “Bloodrush” MT: “‘Bloodrush’ has an infectious spirit. Lyrically, it doesn’t have the same depth as ‘How Will I Know?’ or ‘Say It Again’ or ‘Northern Star,’ but it shouldn’t because it’s fundamental—it’s about jumping into the things that make you feel alive and get your inner chemist working at a chemical level, getting a buzz on and not thinking too hard about it. It’s different in tone, especially to the last record. It’s kind of weird. It’s danceable, which is not a typical Amazons thing.” “Say It Again” MT: “Being in a long-distance relationship, your relationship is kind of set out in different chapters and episodes. The album almost is a timeline of one of those episodes. This is very much a morning song. I’m really spelling out a particular morning in Los Angeles, where my girlfriend lives, when someone takes a risk and expresses that they’ll love you, and your world being turned upside down and kicking the door down into this completely new universe where all the things you saw yesterday are now are completely different.” Chris Alderton: “It holds off for a really long time, and then, once you get to that middle-eight, it turns into this big, celebratory piece of music to back up that chorus that you’ve already heard twice.” “There’s A Light” MT: “This was written with a guy called Will Bloomfield. We connected a lot on the idea of navigating how to love someone when they’re physically absent. He was coming in at the angle of losing his father about a year previously. We wanted to create a mantra of positive affirmation, that there is a light at the end of the dark, that you will see people again and it is going to be OK. In a way, it’s one of many different answers to the question posed at the beginning of the album. Sometimes these kind of songs are the most cathartic to write in the face of uncertainty and, essentially, in the face of darkness. You make the decision to make something that pushes back against that.” “Northern Star” MT: “This anchors the record because it is one of the most explicit songs, lyrically, about my girlfriend. ‘Northern Star’ is someone who shoulders the load and gives you direction and can grab you by the scruff of the neck and pull you through situations. I feel lucky to have a couple of those people in my life. It actually came from the idea of a lodestar, which is a person or thing that serves as an inspirational guide and is a star that is used to guide the course of the ship. Lodestar isn’t necessarily the easiest, nicest thing to say, so ‘Northern Star’ became that.” “Wait For Me” MT: “We’re children of indie in the noughties, and my favorite band when I was growing up was probably Bombay Bicycle Club. When I think of those summers, going to festivals and watching them, I think of them as long, lost summers. I wanted that vibe on this song. Our sonic references were those noughties indie bands, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to The Strokes to Bombay Bicycle Club. We wanted that raucous energy.” CA: “It’s nostalgic two ways: It’s reminiscent of the music that we’ve built this band around, and it’s also the kind of song that we would’ve written for the first record. We had such a good time playing it in the studio.” “One By One” MT: “This was written in 2020. I was in my attic in Brighton, watching all of this stuff about the explosion in Beirut. It was at a time when it felt like the world was coming apart at the seams. It’s this idea of the world slowly coming under the influence, yet again, of madmen and not being able to do anything about it, feeling powerless.” CA: “We had a really good time with that one. Matt had this little idea and stuck it on the end, that lead line. I was playing that, and Elliot [Briggs, bassist] then came up with the bassline. After that, it really started to come together. So, thank you, Elliot, if you’re reading.” “Ready For Something” MT: “This is a scratching-at-the-walls song, a more frustrated, wild, feral version of ‘Bloodrush.’ It’s like you’ve been in the cage for too long and are just ready to live, ready to experience life, even ready to make mistakes. You want to engage in life and the things that make you feel alive—knowing you are capable of so much more, but you are in a rut.” “For The Night” MT: “I’d actually written this six years ago as a song to pitch for Liam Gallagher’s first album. He didn’t fucking take it! When we got to this album, I was like, ‘This works. Let me change some lyrics. Let me make it work for this album.’ Lyrically, it starts off the final act of the album. It’s a super-vulnerable track. We wanted to do something really different, so we brought a pianist in and spent a lot of time building up these atmospheric-type synths and stuff, almost industrial sounds that shouldn’t work. A lot of David Bowie’s Heroes album was referenced on this.” “In The Morning” MT: “We wanted one last big, uptempo tune there. It’s the last dance of the record. Really, goodbyes for everyone are inevitable, and that always sucks. Every relationship, there’s a hello and there’s a goodbye. Being in a long-distance relationship, that cycle is a lot more frequent, and ‘In The Morning’ is really just about keeping the future at arm’s length and trying to focus on a moment—and failing because the shadow of the inevitable goodbye is just too strong.” “I’m Not Ready” MT: “The last three songs are dealing with the same thing—it’s just at different stages of the night. If ‘In The Morning’ is the night before, trying to keep the morning at bay, ‘I’m Not Ready’ is ‘Goodbye is here, and I’m not fucking ready to do that.’ One of my favorite lyrics on the album is, ‘Life is cruel, but not right now.’ That’s a good line to finish with. It’s about celebrating and appreciating the time that we have with people that we love, even though we know it’s finite, that goodbyes are inevitable and life is cruel. But whilst you’re with that person, it isn’t cruel right now.”