Amusement Parks On Fire: The indie minstrels of Nottingham
Amusement Parks is Noise Pop / Shoegaze band from Nottingham, UK. We are humbled by their kindness to agree spend some time with Noise Artists for an interview, and slightly star-struck.
The band present themselves very well on Facebook:
Amusement Parks On Fire first came to prominence in 2004 with the release of the eponymous debut album, conceived and consummated by the then-adolescent founder Michael Feerick and phonically actualised on a shoestring. Issued on Geoff Barrow (of Portishead)’s Invada label, it was described by the then-relevant New Musical Express as "hedonistic teenage genius" and saw itself projected onto the planetary meta-retina.
A live line-up was essentially preformed and extensively performed with the likes of Dinosaur Jr, The Flaming Lips, M83 and dEUS among innumerable other acts of the era. The unit then retreated to Sigur Rós’ private swimming-pool sanctuary Sundlaugin in Mosfellsbær, Iceland to complete the venturesome sophomore release 'Out Of The Angeles', during which time they experimented with sleep, sustenance and sunlight deprivation at the insistence of V2 Records.
After several years of international incidence the band crash-landed in Los Angeles in 2009 to make 'Road Eyes' with producers Michael Patterson (Beck, Nine Inch Nails) and Nicolas Jodoin (Arcade Fire, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). Again inspired by the locale, the collection was intended as 'a skewed Californian contemporary-classical' with Alternative Press characterising it as "sun-drenched, challenging and gratifying… a near-perfect album".
After an 88 month moratorium the band returned in November 2017 with a new single 'Our Goal To Realise' and coinciding UK live performances, followed swiftly in April of this year with the concept EP 'All The New Ends' and a concert tour of mainland Europe. In December, the collective play 3 special UK shows at which they promise to perform material from the next album 'An Archaea' for the first time, alongside deep cuts from their extensive back catalogue.
The current line up is:
Michael Feerick, guitar, vocals
Peter Dale, Drums
Gavin Poole, bass
Rafe Dunn, Guitar
Joe Hardy, keyboards/guitar
Their impressive musical work to date is:
Venosa/Eighty Eight, EP, 2005
Blackout, EP, 2005
Amusement Parks on Fire, LP, 2005
In Flight, EP, 2006
Out of the Angeles, LP, 2006
A Star Is Born, EP, 2007
Young Fight, EP, 2009
Road Eyes, LP, 2010
Our Goal To Realise, EP, 2017
All The New Ends, EP, 2018
This interview is the perfect new year gift to discover or revisit their music while learning more on the band. We hope you enjoy.
What is your music about?
Not to be a spoilsport but I don’t really like attempting to characterize it in any meaningful sense as it only really serves to diminish it and spoil the fun. I guess what I love about music is it’s such an expressive medium, a way of communicating things that can’t be described, so analyzing it on paper is kind of irrelevant and boring. But yeah, it’s mainly about struggling to accept a prescribed reality and being sad about that.
What are your goals as an artist artistically/commerically?
I guess artistically the goal is probably to give the thing you’re working on a reason to exist, to justify adding it to the already overwhelming amount of man-made information in the universe. It’s not always easy to justify that to yourself. I made fun of my issues with that on our song ‘Our Goal To Realise’. The only real commercial goal we have is to break-even on tour. Anything beyond that would be ridiculous to conceive of.
Who would you want as a dream producer, and why?
Hmmm maybe Jim O’Rourke. Way back in like 2004 someone working with us suggested him as a producer but I wasn’t too familiar with his stuff. In the intervening years I’ve become his biggest fan. He’s either made or produced some of the best music I’ve ever heard and yet he seems like a humble, humorous dude, which is to his credit. Maybe the stars will align one day but I’m not holding the phone. Well, I am but only ‘cos I’ve got literally all of his recordings on it. Also, Ken Thomas. We talked to him loads and loads about making a record but couldn’t figure out how to fund it at the time. I’m still really gutted, he’s a lovely chap and seems to really understand us too.
What are you trying to avoid as a band?
Any relevance or commercial success WHATSOEVER. Not really. Well… I’d refer back to a couple of questions ago. I guess we want to avoid making the stuff mundane, stopping before you’ve made something that goes a little further than it could have. We’re trying to avoid leaving the EU too but not having much luck there. Trying to avoid it being too expensive for us to tour in Europe next year.
Explain your songwriting process.
If I could, I would. Actually, I probably wouldn’t. Either way, it’s more of an anti-process. My theory is, if I make no discernible effort at all, the stuff I do do, or do remember, is gonna be legit. That goes some way to explaining why there has been such a gap before this next album. We could have recorded one in 2010 but I don’t see any point in writing for the sake of it or rushing to release a record. It’s got to happen when it wants to happen. Plus, who could be bothered to do anything?
In 2018 there is no new or old music to a 17 year old with internet access. Discuss.
I think I know what you’re getting at. I don’t know if I have any opinion on the way people consume music anymore though. I’ve never thought of music as new or old really. Unless it’s very cynically of a particular time and therefor dates terribly. You can listen to stuff from the 50’s on some good headphones and it sounds like it’s happening in that very moment. That’s the magic of recording I guess. Moreover, I don’t really believe time exists. The concepts of new and old are manufactured notions of no consequence. So, I’m non-plussed.
Why do you make the music you make?
I don’t know why anyone does anything at all. I suppose it’s an exercise in making something intangible in your mind into something subjectively real so yourself and others can appreciate it. Plus, it’s fun.
Describe your palette of sound.
I mean, at the risk of sounding vague again, it’s infinite, isn’t it? If you can imagine it, you can figure out how to make it. If you limit yourself in that respect there’s no point. I spend far less time thinking about guitar tones than i do about structure, melodic arrangement and the like. That’s where the real beauty and intrigue is for me. We are obviously jonesing on guitars most of the time but that’s only because that’s what we have lying around and it’s such a handy songwriting tool.
Which of your albums are you the most proud of? Why?
It’s trite but it would be like choosing which of your kids you’re most proud of. They all came around at different times in your life, under different circumstances. They all drive you irreparably insane and bankrupt you. You love all of them and they are all part of you. I’m just as proud of the JCDX album. I guess I was a kind of sonic sperm-donor on that one, just to rinse this analogy completely.
As a touring band, what do you find the hardest? The best?
These days, just getting everyone in the same place at the same time. The logistics are the only concern. Once we’re in the van, it’s always great. I feel really grateful that venues and promoters are still willing to have us. We went away for quite a while so we’re kind of a risk in some places I imagine. It seems even more special now to show up somewhere far away from home and there are people there to see you, after like FIFTEEN years. Fuck.
You write a good amount of songs in different time signatures, like 7/8, do you set out to write that way or does it come naturally ?
It’s never for the sake of it. It has to occur naturally with the vocal melody and everything. 7 feels pretty natural too. I’ve wondered why we find 4 the easiest to deal with. I imagine there’s a scientific reason for that, human language patterns and stuff. But it seems kind of arbitrary to me!
You’re from Nottingham, has the environment affected your sound?
Absolutely yeah. Maybe not the sound so much as the approach and the attitude towards what we’re doing. There’s a really great, independent scene in Nottingham that isn’t beholden to any one genre. A really healthy amount of bands and artists supporting each other and helping each other out. I’m always blown away when bands from other towns talk of competition with other local bands. That is so alien to me. Plus, it’s right in the middle of the country so you can usually drive home from any show if you have to, which helps a lot.