Keeping time: An Interview with The Amorettes’ Hannah McKay
It’s been a prolific couple of years for the Scottish trio of The Amorettes. After a bunch of tours supporting Black Star Riders, Ash and Danko Jones, and the release of their second album ‘Game On’. The band now find themselves undertaking another tour at the beginning in April, as well as preparing to go into the studio to produce their third studio album.
They’re also nominated for a selection of awards this Saturday at the Pure Rawk Awards, as well as being on the bill at the event to close the show. Drummer, Hannah McKay took some time out to talk to Shaun Neary about the bands experiences, expectations for the new album and future plans.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with Pure Rawk. How are you doing?
No problem at all. Doing great thanks, incredibly busy, gearing up for recording the next album in a few weeks time, shortly followed by a UK tour with The Treatment. Set to be another busy year for us, really excited and the new songs sounding cool!
As a band, you turn 7 this month, if I’m not mistaken. Before the 7 years together, how long have you been playing music prior to the band forming?
7 years.. wow. Yes it will be! Feels like we’re only getting started! Pre Amorettes we had always been really into music. Gill and I met on a music course at college and got talking over a love of the same bands. Initially I took up drums aged 15 and started performing at high school and had a band that played the school ‘rock night’ a few times. Joined a local band who played around our area after I left school and when The Amorettes got started I decided to commit fully to that and it just seems to have grown and grown since. We got my sister Heather in on bass as she had been sitting playing in her bedroom with no band and was getting pretty good and that was it!
You’ve been nominated for six Pure Rawk Awards taking place on March 12th, which is rapidly closing in on us. Three collectively for Band Of The Year, Album Artwork and Album of the year, and three individually as musicians. What was your initial reaction when you got the news?
Its just nice to be recognised when there are more and more great new bands appearing at the moment. The current rock scene is looking pretty healthy! 2015 was a whirlwind year for us. We really worked our butts off, got stuck in and learned so much getting out onto the touring circuit for the first time and playing alongside some brilliant bands and alongside some of our heroes. I think its safe to say each of us have really grown as players what with the constant gigging and playing night after night, we have really worked at it and improved and with the new material we are challenging ourselves more. Even if we dont actually win anything its still pretty satisfying to be involved and I’m sure it will be a great party. Thank you Pure Rawk for the nominations!
The band have had a busy, not to mention high profile year, you’ve had a fairly hectic touring schedule with Europe and Black Star Riders, Gun, Thunder, Ash and Danko Jones to name a few. What’s that been like?
It all kicked off in March 2015 with Europe and Black Star Riders and we closed the year touring the UK with Ash in December.. what happened in between.. I’m not quite sure!! No really, the amount we learned about touring and ‘the biz’ in general last year was incredible. Watching these great bands go out onstage every night and really work a crowd so effortlessly was pretty inspiring and we watched and took a lot in from all these seasoned performers. There are also plenty of bizarre moments, we were in Holland playing the same venue as Marilyn Manson and we spied him in catering wearing a pair of aviators checking out what was for dinner. We also found ourselves in Clinton Cards trying to pick out a birthday card for Scott Gorham. These people you have only ever seen in magazines or had posters of in your bedroom. They are just ordinary people. I wont lie, it can be tiring. Its a lot of driving and a lot of sitting around waiting. Your entire day is based around stepping out onto the stage that night. But the adrenaline of the show, seeing new places and meeting loads of new people, it’s addictive and you don’t know what to do with yourself when you go home.
With the touring, the promoting of “Game On”, and planning for the third album factored in, where do you find the time for rehearsals, personal time, etc?
Apart from a one off show in Workington at the end of January, we have had a lot of time away from gigging so far this year, to really focus, write and piece the new songs together. We try to get together to write and rehearse as much as we can. While you’re away touring and playing night after night it keeps you pretty tight as a band anyway. I’m realising now we aren’t really ones for writing on the road, some bands do, some don’t. I’ve seen some bands playing around with new ideas at sound checks. Might be something we begin to do in time. We rehearse in a club so a couple of post rehearsal jager bombs are becoming tradition.
For the upcoming third album, you’ve gone with PledgeMusic for marketing. Is this your first time going this route, and how has the experience been so far?
Yes first time with Pledge and it has been an awesome experience so far. We were amazed at how quickly we reached target and we are still going! We are all so, so grateful to everyone who has gotten involved and helped us out. It really means a lot. We have been keeping fans updated regularly with little video updates and are giving the fans something back. We have a guitar and a bass up for grabs as well as a painting from bass player Heather. Looking forward to having pledgers in the studio with us, the group backing vocals should be fun. Feels like more of a joint effort. The support has been amazing and it makes me feel proud to know there are people out there so keen to help newer bands progress.
The pledge for this album has reached almost twice it’s goal, congratulations on that. You’re off to Wales for the recording. Can you give us a bit of insight on the recording of an album, estimated length of time, what you enjoy, pitfalls of spending lots of time in the studio, etc?
We were blown away. Its really spurred us on to keep doing what we are doing. Thanks to everyone!! So the plan is to record at Leeders Vale Studios in Wales for around 3 weeks, with Nick Brine engineering, his past work including The Darkness, Ash, Stereophonics to name a few and Luke Morley from Thunder to produce. I can’t wait to get started. We initially got to know Luke when we supported The Union in Edinburgh a few years back and we did a short European tour with Thunder toward the end of last year. I think it helps the fact he’s seen us live quite a bit now and knows our sound. We really want to create that big sound in the studio as much as we can. Generally being in the studio can be time consuming, from past experience I start to think I am the worst drummer in the world, you naturally want to play your absolute best and sometimes your insecurities start to creep in listening to takes and it sounds nothing like you thought it did. It can be an odd, unnatural environent, playing in a room alone with everyone sitting staring through the control room window. I think its something where the more you do it the more comfortable you become and you start to really create an environent you feel most relaxed.
I think Nick and Luke will make a great team. The new songs are sounding great so far and I am genuinely so excited to hear the final outcome. Like I said before we will have pledgers in the studio with us so its going to be a real team effort and a great laugh I’m sure. Very excited!
Once the album surfaces, ones assumes it’s back on the road again, are there any particular cities or venues that you really look forward to playing?
So after recording I think we are home for around 10 days then out for another UK run of shows supporting The Treatment. A great band from Cambridge who’s latest album ‘Generation Me’ is getting great reviews. We always look forward to the Barfly gigs in Camden, infact any show we have played in London seems to have gone down a storm. We always love getting back there. Sheffield crowds have been pretty nuts to and Glasgow of course. Looks like we will get to a few places on the Treatment tour we havent been yet, Portsmouth and Stoke on Trent. I know we are all keen to get back out to Europe this year. We seem to gained a bit of a following already in France in particular. We’ve had an absolutley amazing reception out there every time. So we hope to be back there soon after the new album hits. Some big festivals may be on the cards this summer.. we will see. Watch this space!
Whats the most bizarre gig that the band has had to date?
I know the answer to that one right away and I’m sure Gill and Heather would answer the same.. It was Workington Town Centre in summer 2014!! We well and truly payed our dues with this one..
So the van pulled up into a busy shopping precinct and we got out to be told there was no stage we were to set up on the ground outside Costa. So we unloaded our full backline and played an hours set to people out shopping, wandering past eating a Greggs sausage roll. It was odd. Really odd but hilarious. After we left we found out that the police had been called soon after as there had been complaints from Clinton Cards.. I totally get it! We arent exactly subtle!
So we came back to play Workington Town Hall this year and we were able to have a joke with the crowd.. ” the last time we played here you called the fuzz!!”
Final question: Create your dream gig. Pick two other bands, current or disbanded, to share the bill with, and the venue. What would they be and why?
Being Scottish I think I’d bring back the Glasgow Apollo. Legendary venue now closed down. I’d have us supporting Joan Jett & The Blackhearts because I just love them to bits and Little Richard would be on the bill to because hes just one of the greatest rock n roll performers ever!.. that would be an awesome show.
Thank you again, for taking the time out to chat. We look forward to seeing you on March 12th!
Thanks PureRawk and see you on the 12th!
The Amorettes will be playing at the following dates and venues:
11th March: Barfly, Camden, UK
12th March: Pure Rawk Awards, Boston Music Room, London, UK
27th April: Waterfront, Norwich, UK
28th April: Oobleck, Birmingham, UK
29th April: Clwb Ifor Bach, Wales, UK
1st May: Corporation, Sheffield, UK
2nd May: O2 Academy 2, Oxford, UK
4th May: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK
5th May: Key Club, Leeds, UK
6th May: Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, UK
7th May: Sugarmill, Stoke On Trent, UK
9th May: O2 Academy, Newcastle, UK
10th May: Stereo, Glasgow, UK
11th May: Satans Hollow, Manchester, UK
12th May: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK
13th May: O2 Islington, London, UK
23rd July 2016 : Middle of Nowhere Festival, Stafford, UK
12th August 2016 : Viking Festival, Ebbw Vale, Wales, UK
For more information and tickets, please visit theamorettes.com.