Following the release of their new single ‘The Coward’ Melbourne band, Amistat are about to head off on tour in December, Shannon-Lee Sloane from GC Live had a chat with Jan about the new single, the tour and how amazing the musical talent is in Australia.
So I have to start by saying I had not heard of you guys until recently and I think I have a new favourite Melbourne band! I was listening to you the other night while preparing my interview questions and I just had to stop working and just enjoy the moment and enjoy the music.
Jan: Oh that’s lovely, thank you so much.
So Amistat is made up of you and your brother Josef?
Jan: Yes and we have another 2 band members, sometimes we play just as a due or a trio and then sometimes as a four piece. Depends how big the gigs are and what we want to achieve.
And how long have you and your brother been making music together?
Jan: Oh I started playing guitar when I was 6 years old and Josef started singing when he was about 10 years old. And then we started covering songs for fun. Then we started singing and doing a bit of writing. I started singing when I was maybe about 15 and we got a bit more serious and started a band back home in Europe. Then we started travelling and then moved to Australia 6 years ago and we created Amistat.
So it was 2012 that you moved to Melbourne and started out busking on the streets?
Jan: Yes that’s right. Yep, just busking, we had no idea what we were doing really, just had two guitars and started playing our old songs from back home and then it all just started happening.
Some of my favourtie Australian bands have made their start with Triple J, I believe you guys are a Triple J Unearthed band?
Jan: Yes we are, definitely. We have a page with some of our songs as well on the Triple J Unearthed site. It is nice to discover some new up and coming artists on there, great way to get your music out there.
The word Amistat means Friendship?
Jan: That’s right, in Catalan, similar to Spanish. There is a song by the Fray called “You found me” and in the first verse they sing “I found God on the corner of First in Amistad” which is some street name in America, but when we heard that word for the first time we thought it was interesting so researched it and that’s how it happened.
I recently interviewed Josh Pyke and one of the things I love about his music is his storytelling and I think your songs are the same, they tell stories, is that something you aim to do with your music?
Jan: Definitely. We grew up traveling a lot because of our father and our mother with their jobs and Dads a teacher, so we spent 8 years in Italy and a few years in Austria and then went back to Germany. So we were always moving and so I think our songs are a lot about meeting new people and traveling and about life and the challenges and the journey we have been on so far.
You have a new single “The Coward” and a new clip to go along with it. I love the passion and the depth of the song and I feel like in the film clip there is almost an aggressive passion to it. How do you feel about that song?
Jan: So I wrote it about a year ago when I was going through some personal stuff with relationships and not being happy with myself, so I sat down and wrote this song about how I know who I am deep inside but sometimes the environment doesn’t allow me to show that or be able to express who I am. So especially in the video clip, that day I was able to drop back to that emotion that I had when I wrote the song and just really let it all out so, it was a very special day for us. Sometimes you know when you know you are going to be on camera it is just not authentic and you can feel nervous, but that day I was just really happy that I was able to jump into that mode and that emotion and that was nice.
After previously releasing two EP’s, your debut album ‘Parley’ is out now. So many great tracks, do you have a favourite song from the album?
Jan: I think my favourite song is Addictive Pain, which is I think the second song from the album, Yeah we spent a lot of time on that song and I am very happy with the recording and the production and the whole song means a lot to me. It was from 2 years ago I was going through a hard time and it is about being addicted to something that is not good for you, even if it is just an emotion or that you are pushing away people you love or you just focus on the depression in your life. It was good because now I see what I was doing wrong, that is what I got out of that, and it’s all good now.
Your tour starts in Melbourne next month and includes Newcastle, Canberra, Sydney, Byron Bay, Brisbane and finishes at the Woodford Folk Festival, you must be super keen to get that underway?
Jan: Very very excited, we will be doing almost every show as a 4 piece, so Ryan on percussion and piano and Julian on the Cello, so it will be great, we are very close friends as well, so it is always nice to share the experience with the boys. We always wanted to tour with them for the past 4 years and it just never happened but this time we are able to do it together and we are very very excited.
I recently read an interview with you where a quote of yours really sung to my heart. You said: “I truly believe that we have to start our own happiness, which is going to create a totally different energy. Follow your dreams, even if it means you are not going to make much money” As a writer and gig reviewer I can really relate to this, I do what I do because I love it and it is nice to hear someone encouraging others to follow their dreams in that way. Has making music always been your dream?
Jan: Always. I knew when I started when I was 6 years old; I knew that was what I wanted to do. The moment I was able to create a sound with my guitar I knew that it gave me something I could not describe, how that feels, it’s like the best drug in the world. I can’t describe it but I knew, that moment, I knew that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, just create music and express myself through music.
I love supporting local music, can you give me any local Melbourne bands you recommend I listen too?
Jan: Oh yeah definitely. So we started 6 years ago, started playing with some great bands, like Woodlock, they are one of our favourite Melbourne bands, they are an amazing trio. Playing music for the right reasons, awesome singer songwriters, so definitely check out Woodlock. The Pierce Brothers, Harrison Storm, Ben Whiting, Jayden Reid…Yeah where do you stop!? Melbourne is insane, the talent here is incredible. Every musician I meet somehow I always walk away inspired, it’s crazy. I think Australia in general, the music scene is awesome and I love it.
Thanks to Jan of Amistat for chatting with GC Live today. We are super keen to catch Amistat play at The Milk Factory in Brisbane on the 15th of December. The Coward tour kicks off in Melbourne on the 2nd and you can catch them at the following venues through December…
2 DEC – MELBOURNE – CHAPEL OFF CHAPEL
6 DEC – NEWCASTLE – LASS O’GOWRIE
7 DEC – CANBERRA – FRONT GALLERY
9 DEC – SYDNEY – RECORD CRATE
14 DEC- BYRON BAY – BEACH HOTEL
15 DEC – BRISBANE – MILK FACTORY
27 DEC – 1 JAN – WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL