At the Lassez Faire club night I was lucky enough to interview The Ambassadors. Consisting of brothers Sam and Casey, Noah and Adam they are a brilliant American band who came over to the UK for one week.
This interview and the interview with The Vanguard are both exclusives. This is the first UK interview.
01. This being your first time in the UK how has it been for you being in a country you have never been to before?
S: You know what it’s been really great the audience is so much more receptive then any other audience we’ve had. In New York we’re been playing there for a while so we got a following out there and it’s nice they are always fun shows. You come here and if nobody knows you they will still give you the time of day. It’s really great it’s a really open community of music appreciators, that’s nice.
A: It’s really been great, it’s always amazing to go to a different country and be able to play your music for a new kinda demographic of people and see how they respond. Like Sam said the response has been amazing. We’ve got a warm reception from everyone we’ve played to and the promotors have been great. In New York it can be really rough, the promotors wont give you the time of day, they dont want to pay you and they dont promote the shows. Everyone here have really promoted the shows and made it worthwhile. We’ve definately came a long way and invested alot of time and money into this trip. It’s been great.
02. What made you want to start a band?
S: My brother Casey is also in the band and he plays keys. He and I have been playing music since we were very very little. We grew up in a musical family as did Adam and Noah the guitar player. You know growing up in that kind of envioroment when your always encouraged to do stuff and do creative things. It just sort of happened. My mum was a singer, i always loved to sing and what do you do when you sing? You get a band around you. Casey loves to play piano and it just happend from there. I met Noah in elementary school and we started playing as a group in middle school. When we came out to New York Noah and I were in our last year there. We met Adam there. Adam started playing drums for us and from there it just kicked off. What really makes it work is that we all have a similar tastes. But also it’s different at the same time and everyone has there own two cents that they put in. It works.
03. Describe your music in 3 words?
A: Sleepy, Soul, Rock, Fierce
S: Sexy, Sleepy, Kush
A: 3 Words is tough I need maybe 20
04. Favourite song to sing live and why?
S: For me it would be Body Bag. It has great harmonies going on. I’m a sucker for harmonies like i’ve been really big on bands like Grizzly Bear and all those new bands coming out that really have this kind of choir boy thing going on. So Body Bag is my favourite song.
A: My favourite song to play as i’m the drummer is probably a song called Mirror Talk. It’s one of our more laid back sleepy soul songs and it’s definately my favourite to play. I just love playing it, it never gets old.
05. People who have not seen you live before what can they expect from your sets?
S: A lot of energy. Trying to bring it hard everytime.
N: If you come to an Ambassadors show you can expect to see the greatest keyboard player that you have ever seen ever.
06. Who would you say your musical influences are?
S: I grew up listening to all these old folk singers that my parents would throw at me like Woody Guthrie, Karen Dalton and Bob Dylan. I always used to love singing like, I was a big Billy Joel fan for a little while. I love singers like Sam Cook, Garnet Mimms and old soul singers. At the same time I also love Iggy Pop. Musically I have gone through so many different phases of the type of music I listen to that I like to incorporate as much as I can. It varies I think it shows in our music we have a very kind of ecletic sound. When we first started playing the first record I ever did with the band every single song sounded completly different. We had one which was like this bluesy song, then we had ones which were like alternative punk rock and then we had some quiet calm ones. I just try to soak in everything.
07.If you were to collaborate with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
A: If we were to collaborate with someone alive or dead for me I would like to say John Bonham (Led Zepplin 1948-1980) but then I would be out of the band as the drummer. I would like to see John Bonham take my place in the band and watch from the side of the stage so I could see him play. As far as playing with I would say someone like John Paul Jones from Zepplin or any of The Beatles.
08. Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs?
N: I get my inspiration from many different things like life I guess and from people.
S: I think we draw as any kind of artists, you try to draw upon anything like alot of my lyrics i’ve written from conversations in the street and all that stuff you hear songwriters talk about like deep personal stuff. In terms of songwriting i’ve always been interested in the absurd and the contrast of something that is very serious and intimate and then something that comes out of no where. Combining the two I think is really cool.
09. Who is your favourite singer or band at the moment?
S: I’ve been obsessing over that Bon Iver record that came out last year. He started this group that just added Justin Vernon. I think he has got such a beautiful voice and it’s not of this world. It comes from this dark beautiful place that I love.
A: At the moment I have been listening to a lot of jazz stuff lately. I used to play jazz guitar and was really into jazz. I have been listening to Kurt Rosenwinkel I saw him live in New York a couple of weeks ago and it was unreal. Otherwise I like the classic great drummers of our time like John Bonham, Zepplin, The Beatles all the stuff you would expect. As far as new stuff we have been listening to alot of dubstep since we’ve got heree which I used to not be really into but recentley we have been really digging that stuff.
C: I listen to a lot of eclectic weird experimental music. I really like crazy instrumental like especially melody led instrumentals. Jeff Beck is one of my favourite musicians that is putting out material right now. I love that stuff.
N: I’m in line with that as well with a lot of melody driven instrumentals. But also I dig Eastern type of music. I’m listening to a lot of sitar stuff and there is this band in particular called Tenara One which is a sub sahara african band with electric guitars that’s really amazing. I also like a lot of world music also.
10. What tips do you offer to any one wanting to start a band?
S: Think about it long and hard.
A: My biggest is to pay more attention to personality than playing ability because I have been in bands with ego centric people who you think are good but really not. Don’t let someone convince you they are good you have to listen to them playing. Take it for yourself and also just make sure they are people you can stand to be around. Because playing in a band you have to rehearse 3+ days a week, tour and be with these people 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. If you don’t get along with them then it wont work out. I can gaurentee that.
C: Make sure you put together a band that every musician in the band gets to put some sort of element they love into the band. Otherwise they are not going to be into the music that they are playing. Creativity wise that stunts the bands growth. Everyones gotta be playing something they love.
N: I say bring money. That’s what I say.
A: You’re going to loose your money before you make it. You gotta be there for the long run if you really want to do it. You can do it as a hobby but if you really want to get somewhere you have to put everything into it.
To hear music by The Ambassadors go to: http://www.myspace.com/ambassadorsband