With a few changes following the band since their 2014 release, Let the Ocean Take Me, most notably the departing of lead guitarist Troy Brady, the band will be bringing a slightly altered sound, new line up and some spanking new merch when they hit Geelong next month.
From the outset this new album follows on from its predecessor and the well-established sound The Amity Affliction have created. However, with this release the most notable change has been with song writer Joel Birch.
Leading into the recording process, Birch went through his hardest time with his chronic depression, though still making it through laying down a new album to bring to the fans.
“It was the lowest point in my life though, absolutely, but the funny thing is the actual crash came after recording and the lyrics took on an almost prophetic air for me; it’s like I had unwittingly written them for myself, which is pretty strange,” Birch says. “Unfortunately I can’t dictate my life all the time, and dealing with chronic depression for over a decade has its ups and downs, so who knows.”
With each song a reflection of his life, it’s a process that Birch owns and one that isn’t overtly discussed by the band in terms of direction. As all good song writing goes, it happens naturally.
As guitarist Dan Brown told Beat Magazine, “We’ll never write out of necessity,” he says. “We’re a band, and we want to keep putting out songs, but we’ll never release an album until we’re ready to release it. We’re not going to rush it and write songs just because we want an album to come out. We’re constantly writing, and then eventually when we’re completely happy with it, we go record them, rather than pushing something because of the time constraints.”
It’s almost cathartic to see such a difficult time for Birch brought to life on stage and take on new meaning for the fans listening on, and with the current tour several shows down it’s been a pleasant experience.
“It’s been amazing so far…I’ve been blown away,” Birch beams. “Playing at home on the Sunshine Coast was obviously a highlight, but last night on the Gold Coast kinda blew me away. There is so much give and take when we’re on stage and last night I feel like I was given the opportunity to take take take, it was nice.”
As for the emotional background of the songs, Birch remarks: “It’s always going to be a weird and emotional experience when we first start touring a new album because all the albums have been super personal. So in that regard this one was no different to the last, but I mean, that shouldn’t take away from the impact it has to perform them either. I love that connection we’ve built with our music, and like I’ve said countless times before, it’s a two way street – I get to feed off the audience as well as having a very cathartic experience at the same time. It’s very amazing.”
With this upcoming tour, the Brisbane band are opening the doors to all ages (well, almost) with their Geelong show taking place at the Arena. In Geelong, and surely this is reflected across Australia, it’s a rarity to see on posters and while Amity’s audience may lean to the 18-27 age group, reaching the younger audience is still an important aspect of touring for them.
“There are bands I listened to in my teens that I will never let go of, you know? They hold a very special place in my heart, and that’s something that music will continue to give people forever I feel,” he says.
For Birch, attending a Cronulla Throwdown gig as a teen is what grew his interest from SoCal punk rock – and arguably what lead him to be the main song writer and vocalist for The Amity Affliction.
“Cronulla Throwdown played at a party put on by this guy on the coast named Ryan Spears. He put on these wild parties and all the punk kids on the coast would go and get wasted – I guess it was like a punk rock blue light disco,” he says laughing. “They were a hardcore band and probably piqued my interest in the heavier side of things when I was listening almost exclusively to SoCal punk rock. I lost a shoe in the mosh pit and found it and kissed some girl – great result.”
Regardless of whether you’re under or over legal age, chances of losing your shoe in the moshpit of Amity’s Geelong show are high, though perhaps meeting the girl are less likely. There’s only one way to find out.
Written by Amanda Sherring
When & Where: The Arena, Geelong – February 3 with supports Hellions, Ocean Grove and Shopping Trolley Fist Fight.