INTERVIEW: Californian Punk band Amherst Drive

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey there! Thanks for having me on to do this interview! I’ve been really busy with this music thing, but I can’t complain. The response to this double single release, especially since it is Amherst Drive’s debut, has been really overwhelming. I’ve been at this music thing for a while, so to see all the hard work finally begin to pay off is the greatest gift.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Better Way”?

I wanted there to be two singles released for Amherst Drive’s debut. I already had the driving, aggressive punk track in my song Breakdown. With this being the case I wanted to showcase the sonic diversity that Amherst Drive could bring to the punk scene. I wrote the song with the intention of doing a mellower track, which quite a few California punk groups are known to do. Once I had that initial guitar chord progression and tone I was pretty much locked in on finishing the track.

I had all the instrumentals done, and when it came to do the vocals I felt like writing about love, namely unrequited love, was the way to go. As a lyricist I tend to write pretty dark and angry lyrics about society like most hardcore punk groups that influence me do. So to push myself as a songwriter to write about a subject like love, which makes me vulnerable and uncomfortable, really created a rather interesting creative environment.

I’m really proud of the finished product.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not necessarily. The inspiration was an amalgamation of my past experiences with romance, and really kinda imagining in my head a woman that just completed me. But the relationship somehow, in our lyrical story, somehow blew apart. It’s something I could see happening in reality, me botching the perfect relationship with the perfect woman because I’m insecure, have a chip on my shoulder, mad at the world, and ultimately guarded.

I put us together as “misfits from the wrong side of town” because I’ve always been a misfit never really fitting in. And I guess by proxy this person in the song becomes a misfit with me, accepting me and taking me back even though I don’t deserve it.

Oh man, this feels like I’m talking to a therapist a bit hahaha. But sometimes songs can be therapeutic.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I’ve got plans for both Breakdown and Better Way, it just is up to the right circumstances coming together for me to make a video for either song. I’ve got some ideas, but nothing concrete at the moment.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing and recording was pretty painless if I’m honest. The stripped back nature of punk took the pressure off compared to other solo projects I’ve done. I’m known as an experimental composer and multi-instrumentalist, so this is a huge shift in my musical direction as I threw away all of the extremely complex melodies and instrumentation for something more raw. I grew up being a punk addict, loving all different bands like Pennywise and Social Distortion. Writing punk music was pretty much second nature.

What role does California plays in your writing?

California, especially where I grew up which was Southern California, permeates my songwriting directly with the vast majority of punk bands from here that influence me. I mentioned Pennywise and Social Distortion, but bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Adolescents, Agent Orange and many more either directly influence my sound, or just how I approach songwriting and playing my music overall. That aggression with melody, that’s a quintessential California thing.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?

Yes! I have begun working on a 4 song EP which is really in its infancy. In my free time, when I’m not working as a cybersecurity journalist, I try to get some song ideas in. Even if it’s just humming possible melodies, it is coming together slowly but surely. 

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

It is far too early for a title, but I am trying to aim for a fall 2017 release date. It all depends on my satisfaction with the songs I come up with. At the latest it will be early winter 2017.

Any plans to hit the road?

Since Amherst Drive is a totally solo project with me doing all instruments and vocals, I have to find musicians I gel with before thinking about touring. I was educated in Ethnomusicology with a composition emphasis at UCLA’s School of Music, so maybe I can tap into my connections and find some people I really love playing with. Of course part of punk rock is the show, so I don’t plan on staying home forever ;).

What else is happening next in Amherst Drive’s world?

I think really it is just trying to get the word out about this music. Punk rock isn’t on people’s radar like it used to be so it is a little difficult to get buzz generated around your music if you are new. Hitting the pavement and sharing my music is really what I’m focused on and I imagine it’ll be that way for a while.

Also doing hopefully doing more interviews with awesome publications like yours 🙂

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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