Despite soaking up the sun in São Paulo last month, The Amity Affliction’s Ahren Stringer admits he has been a little under the weather lately. “I got sick on our last tour so now we’re back home – my immune system is working wonders for me,” he jokes, as he clears his throat.
As the only original member of the band that cut its teeth putting on shows during lunchtime at Gympie High School, 170 kilometres north of Brisbane, the affable bass player and vocalist has grown up fronting The Amity Affliction, alongside his long-time bandmate and best friend Joel Birch. And he is just as down-to-earth in person as he appears onstage.
Stringer sounds genuinely happy to be back in Melbourne with his girlfriend Casey, AKA rapper Lady KC, and their cat, but he says the band’s recent trip away was full of memorable moments.
“It was the first time we’d been to South America and the shows were crazy! There were people waiting outside our hotel room and waiting outside the venue, and grabbing at us as we were going in and out. It’s just something we’ve never really experienced at home before. The people are so starved for live music over there – we felt like The Beatles,” he laughs. “It was absolutely nuts, in a good way.”
It’s no secret that The Amity Affliction’s highly emotional and at times deeply personal lyrics – often focusing on battling inner demons, loss and heartbreak – have touched the hearts of listeners all around the world, and their fan base here and abroad continues to grow.
“The biggest shows we’ve ever headlined have been here at home,” Stringer says, reminiscing about 2015’s Big Ass Tour of Australia and New Zealand with Florida’s A Day To Remember. The tour saw them pack out Sydney’s Qantas Credit Union Arena, selling some 12,000 tickets in the process.
The Amity Affliction’s most recent regional Australian tour in support of their fifth album This Could Be Heartbreak sold out in record time, while the record marked their third consecutive debut at the top of the ARIA charts, making them only the fifth Australian band to achieve such a milestone.
“It’s unbelievably cool to play in front of so many people and the hometown crowds are always very welcoming,” says Stringer. “I feel like they know us better than anyone anywhere else.”
This month, The Amity Affliction will be back out on the road, playing one night in every capital city on the east coast. They’re bringing some new friends along for the ride: Beartooth, a hardcore punk band from Columbus, Ohio; Pvris, a band to watch from Lowell, Massachusetts; and Australia’s own Make Them Suffer.
“We played the Vans Warped Tour with Beartooth and Pvris, so it will be really good to see them again, and Make Them Suffer are an awesome Aussie band. There will be lots of camaraderie on this tour,” Stringer says.
We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanna stay loyal to the fans.
In the past, The Amity Affliction built up a reputation for raising hell on the road. Stories of drinking the venue dry after the show, and even swapping band merchandise for drugs, were not uncommon – but these days the now-sober Birch, along with the rest of the band, understand that the music and fans should always come first.
“We don’t really have a lot of time nowadays – between the press, navigating a new city and a new venue every night – and we don’t have time to write on tour either, to be honest,” says Stringer. “We only just started writing new music when we got back [from South America. Dan [Brown, lead guitar] sent me a couple of banging songs. We’ve found that writing while on the road is really hard because you are not in a good headspace. You just try to take each day as it comes and just get through the tour. We definitely write better when we’re at home and chilled out.
“Joel writes the lyrics but he doesn’t really have anything to do with the actual music, and Ryan [Burt] is all about the drums, which we really respect, and he always puts his own flavour on everything. So Dan and I compose, and we work really well together. We rarely disagree on anything – it’s really good. We’re really excited because we’re are all on the same page trying some new things, and it’s going exactly the way we want it to go thus far – but it’s still very, very early days.”
Historically The Amity Affliction have released an LP every two years since 2008, so it’s unlikely we’ll see an album this year, but Stringer confirms that this time around they won’t be working with their go-to producer Will Putney. “It’s not to say we’ve overdone it, but we’ve just done it enough that I think we need to find something new. I think a new producer is definitely something that will help us. Not to reinvent ourselves, but just to take a different step in a new direction.
“At the same time, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanna stay loyal to the fans who have been there the entire ride, and we also want to do what we do best, and that’s doing us. So it’s going to be fresh but it’s still going to be Amity.”
This Could Be Heartbreak is out now through Roadrunner/Warner. The Amity Affliction, Pvris, Beartooth and Make Them Suffer play the Hordern Pavilion on Thursday June 22.