With the last note an echo, sweat dripping from brows, gear resting silently on stands, and exhausted fans mobbing and clamoring for merchandise, most bands quickly head for the exits to retire for the night, confining themselves to a location away from the ruckus of security clearing the room. Generally, the secluded location is a restricted- access backstage room or the isolation of a tour bus, but then again, Seattle-based Amber Pacific isn’t most bands.
“At our shows, we spend most of our time with fans talking around our merch table,” says guitarist/vocalist Will Nutter. “We generally don’t hang out in the back all that much, we just hang out on the floor, talking and listening to stories from people; often times telling us how our music has changed and saved their lives in so many different ways. It’s really inspiring.” This inspiration, the moments between, and the open communication from Amber Pacific’s fans are the central themes of the band’s newest Hopeless full-length — included in Alternative Press magazine’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2007 issue — Truth In Sincerity. Notably, Will was so moved by fans during the band’s tours (including three straight years of Warped Tour appearances) that when he finally sat down in October 2006 to compile his thoughts, he found himself having inked the bulk of the album in less than a month’s time. “I just took little bits and pieces of my experiences and times from the last record until now and used that for what I wanted to write about,” he says. “I guess I work well under pressure.”
Pressures aside, Will has been a vital part of Amber Pacific since its inception nearly five years ago, well before their current name even took shape. Though they were still in high school at the time, the members of Amber Pacific had already charted an impressive course for any band as they entered college. But eventually a bigger destiny rang and the band easily dropped out to entertain full-time musical ventures and childhood dreams.
Collaborating in late 2003 with the talents of producer Martin Feveyear, Amber Pacific signed with Hopeless Records in January 2004 and that summer embarked on the band’s first stint on the Warped Tour in support of their Fading Days EP. Just under a year later, the band released its debut full-length, The Possibility And The Promise. Continuing with its touring tradition, Amber Pacific re-joined the Warped Tour on the Volcom Stage that summer for its second year.
“I think our debut full length went above and beyond anything we expected,” Will says. “We were all just really happy that we had made an album that we were proud of and that people connected to. It kind of just took off. I think a lot of that was from Warped Tour; that tour helped us out in so many ways. We had no idea when we were recording what the album might do.”
The band continued to be road-bound the fall of ‘05 and finished that year with a daunting average of playing four-to-five shows every week. In early 2006, Amber Pacific joined the Take Action! Tour to help raise awareness of teen suicide. The band jumped at the chance to play on Warped Tour yet again that summer for the third year. The final run of shows in support of the band’s debut album took place during the fall of 2006, on the eve of recording the newest album.
That October, after taking a long deserved break from the road for the first time in nearly nine months, Will finally began assembling the material for Truth In Sincerity. With all the songs wrapped and ready by late November, Amber Pacific was back at Jupiter Studios in Washington, with Feveyear once again at the production helm for the three-month tracking marathon.
Feveyear wasn’t the only constant from the last album, as Will notes, the band didn’t opt to stray far from its well- established sound. “We didn’t want to change our sound too much for our new album because, personally, I found myself disappointed with some of the records that had come out recently ... some of my favorite bands had changed their sound a lot,” he says. “I can respect that’s what they wanted to do with their direction and sound as a band. But we felt, for Amber Pacific, we wanted to stick to the sound that we love listening to and have been playing to date. We definitely wanted to stay true to our fans and let them know that we were not going to become anything different than what we’ve shown them we are. We’re still being honest with them... this is who we really are.”
One significant change from the last album was that Amber Pacific greatly expanded upon its studio instrumentation, including everything from ridiculous drum setups (where Feveyear has been quoted as saying “I haven’t tracked this many toms on one kit in 20 years”) to the performance of the Seattle Symphony playing strings on much of the album. The band also brought in guest vocalist Mike Herrera from MxPx, who sang on “Runaway.” “We definitely came into the studio and wrote with the full intention of having a lot of extra production pieces on this record,” says Will, “and it turned out incredible.”
Some of the resulting dozen tracks include the fan-favorite, “Fall Back Into My Life,” which is featured in the recent Warner Bros. film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “The song is two perspectives about losing something and then getting a chance to earn it back and do it right the second time around,” says Will.
Also included on the band’s new epic undertaking is the infectious pop punk track “Temporary” — a two-and-a- half minute blast propelled by a steady swing beat. Another noteworthy track is “You’re Only Young Once” featuring the aforementioned strings and shotgun vocals. One of Will’s personal favorites is the power ballad titled “Take Me From This Place,” which opens with haunting keys.
Perhaps the most heartfelt backdrop to a track is “Follow Your Dreams and Forget The Scene,” which is a track specific to an Amber Pacific fan the band met through the Make-A-Wish Foundation last summer. “We had the gift of being able to hang out with her for the day at the Gorge, bring her on the main stage to rock out, and see her forget about everything else going on in her life for a moment,” says Will. “The band kept in touch with her after the summer and I wrote the song with her in mind as an inspiration. She’s had such a difficult time the past few years and she reminded our band about hope and fight.”
Will says that since the first day, Amber Pacific has always set high goals for themselves. Thus, it is no surprise that they have lofty expectations for Truth In Sincerity — especially considering the relationships the band has established with its audience. “We’ve probably talked to 90 percent of the kids that buy our records,” he says, “so it’s really cool to have a personal connection with all those fans.”
And such connections have been extending even further online, as Amber Pacific have chalked up over six million MySpace and over two million PureVolume plays. With their contagious melodies, an inescapable ability to pen hooks, a grounded approach to scene success, and a relentless loyalty to the fans that brought them here, you can rest assured that history will earmark even bigger things to come for Amber Pacific. -Waleed Rashidi