The Amity Affliction have had a big year. They played the Soundwave Festival around Australia, then flew to US to join the lineup of Warped Tour, and only recently finished a European tour before returning home again for even more shows. “It was quite big, yeah,” says bassist Ahren Stringer modestly. Or perhaps he’s reluctant to talk about it – that American tour as part of the Warped bill was notable for the string of disasters the band suffered.
Three of the group wound up hospitalised in three separate incidents. The disasters began at the second show, when drummer Ryan Burt had one of his drumsticks snap, “and the sharp bit lacerated his eyeball. His actual eyeball, where the pupil is. To put it in simple terms, the ink has leaked into the green part of his eye, so it looks a bit strange.” Burt had to be replaced by their drum technician for the rest of the shows. Frontman Joel Birch was next, taken to hospital after suffering from a seizure due to alcohol withdrawal. Then, “a few days later, Dan [Brown], our new guitarist, he got strep throat and also was severely dehydrated and went to hospital as well. It was a bit like – what’s the movie? Final Destination.”
Stringer managed to make it through the tour without a trip to the hospital, and was feeling like he dodged a bullet. Possibly several bullets. But there was one band on tour that made Amity seem like they were playing it safe: LA’s infamous letlive. “They’re pretty amazing,” Stringer says. “Jason [Aalon Butler], the lead singer, steals the show. He does crazy things. Every show he would do something so crazy I would call it a stunt … Something mental, like run out into the crowd and knock something over or climb a tree and jump into the crowd or jump into the river. They’re a pretty intense band to watch; like, he doesn’t sing many of the words, but it’s still visually pleasing.” Though Stringer’s group enjoyed the antics, don’t expect anything similar at any of their own shows. “That’s not really The Amity Affliction. I think we’ll leave the stunts. I can’t see Joel cutting himself up onstage and climbing a tree or anything.”
On the subject of cutting, one more unusual thing happened while Amity were playing at Warped. While Stringer says it’s not unusual for the band to receive letters from their fans, in America they started going further. “We get lots of letters from fans telling us how much we’ve helped them through depression and stuff with our music and lyrics, which is really nice. Very rewarding. On Warped lots of kids were giving us razor blades – which was a bit weird – with a letter saying, ‘I don’t need this anymore, I’m giving it to you to throw away,’ which I guess is kind of a nice gesture.”
Fans will appreciate hearing that in spite of their busy year, Amity have already found time to begin work on the follow-up to their number one album of last year, Chasing Ghosts. “Dan’s actually helping write the new record whereas the last one was only me and Troy [Brady, guitar] who wrote songs, so now we’ve got an extra songwriter, so he’s bringing something fresh to the table. We’ve got about five songs already in the works. I think it’s just gonna be a better version of the last CD which is what we always aim to do – not try and go too far out of our comfort zone, and stay true to the fans.”
BY JODY MACGREGOR