Highly regarded Melbourne 4-piece AMARILLO announce the release of ALL I CAN SEE – the first single from the band’s upcoming album EYES STILL FIXED, slated for release on October 1 this year. Tomatrax caught up with Nick O’Mara from the band to ask a few questions.
Where did the name Amarillo come from?
It’s a city in Texas, it means yellow in Spanish. The word has been hanging around in notebooks and scraps of paper of mine for years. It makes me think of the desert and tex-mex guitars, and I like how it sounds and how it looks on a page.
You’ve just released your latest single, what’s it like to have it out?
The response has been really pleasing, people seem to really dig it. We’re watching it wonder off into the world alone. Someone said it made them cry – so that’s a little victory, it’s doing its job.
You said that the single was recorded in motel rooms across Western Australia and Northern Territory, was it hard to write the song this way?
It was written in motel rooms up north, but recorded at my cousin Shane O’Mara’s Yikesville studios in Yarraville. It wasn’t hard to write, something always gets moving in you when you’re traveling. Songwriting kind of happens or it doesn’t, so I suppose it’s only hard when it doesn’t happen.
Tom Waits put it much better than I could “Writing songs is like trying to catch a bird without killing it, sometimes you just end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers”.
I feel like we had very few feathers in our mouths on that trip. Fingers crossed.
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘All I can see’?
We just tried to capture the mood of the song. We wanted it to be non-concrete, dream like, with no narrative other than what the listener/viewer wants to make up for themselves from the images and music. We shot it ourselves over a gloomy Melbourne weekend, and Jac had it edited by Monday morning. It looks like what we had in our heads for it, so we’re really pleased.
You have an album coming out later in the year, how will the rest of the album compare with ‘All I can see’?
There’s a lot of different influences on there – from jangly guitar pop, to folk, to alt-country, to Fleetwood Mac to, Morricone soundtrack stuff, to instrumental Ry Cooder kind of things. I had a blast playing every one of my old guitars and every one of Shane’s. But it’s all song based and all song led.
Sonically, we’re really happy with it, Shane captured what we wanted it to be, knew where we were coming from. Alex Rogowski is an amazingly sympathetic drummer and Trent McKenzie is a great bass player and we all had a blast recording it.
Where did the album title Eyes still fixed come from?
It’s from a poem I read years ago. I wrote that line down in a notebook, never found the poem again, can’t remember it at all, or the author. It became the title of an instrumental piece of ours. The line represented to us the idea that you have to keep your focus on what you believe is beautiful about the world and also what’s dangerous about the world. Don’t let people sway you, don’t let the bastards grind you down.
What was it like to play in Barcelona?
We played a house concert there and it was a lot of fun, I just used the little nylon string we were traveling with but people really listened and tuned in. We saw some amazing music there too.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Rarely once it’s recorded. My favourite way to listen to my own music is when it comes on the radio, RRR or PBS, or it’s being played on a stereo somewhere and for a brief few seconds, before you recognise that it’s yourself that you’re listening to, you can actually here your own music as other people hear it and make accurate judgments about it, before all your self analysing filters fire up. It’s happened a few times, and gladly I’ve never been horrified.
What music do you listen to?
We listen to a lot of different kinds of stuff. When we were recording we were listening to spaghetti western soundtracks and you can hear that influence on the last song, “Boating”, I was trying to get that twangy telecaster thing. Recently we’ve been listening to a tonne of Australian artists, the Drones new record, Tiny Ruins (NZ, but you know how that goes), Oh Pep, Ben Salter’s last record which is an absolute gem, Jess Rubiros last record, Laura Jean’s back catalogue. It’s been a binge of modern Australiana. Fair dinkum.
What do you have planned once the album is out?
Keep playing shows and writing for the next one.
Check out Amarillo’s facebook to find out more!