Amy Meredith A journey is a fitting way to describe the last few years of life for Amy Meredith.
From shaping their sound in a rehearsal room in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire to industry showcases in Hollywood, all before the melodic synth-rock act even had half a dozen songs to their name, their rapid rise has been paralleled by a sharp learning curve. And if there’s any truth in the old adage that the journey is always half the fun, then Amy Meredith have one hell of a ride ahead of them as they ready for the release of their debut album.
But to get to the now, it’s important to first look at the past. The Amy Meredith fire was lit when singer, keyboardist and songwriter Christian Lo Russo found common musical ground with local guitarists Joel Chapman and Cam Laing and bassist Wade Osborn. Enlisting drummer Kosta Theodosis, the creative spark spread like wildfire. With an eclectic love of music, from The Beatles to The Cure and The Smiths, the quartet found their feet in synth-driven melodic rock that would evolve over the years but retain a core sound all their own.
“We believe so much in each other’s talents. We’re very supportive of one another,” Lo Russo explains. “We wanted to make a band that was extremely talented and could go the long haul, rather than people who weren’t necessarily good at their instruments trying to make a buck or trying to tour. We wanted to be accomplished musicians first – before we decided to take on the world!”
It seemed the world wasn’t going to wait for Amy Meredith, though. After just two shows and half a dozen songs penned, the quintet found themselves pursued by A&R from every major label, plus imprints and management teams. Eventually signing a progressive deal with Tsubi/Ksubi and jetting to the US to showcase their wares, Amy Meredith returned home and took a step back on their path to global domination.
While their talent was obvious from the start, the initial deal left the band struggling to get the attention they deserved – so upon returning home the band left the label after releasing just one EP. The dream appeared to be over and the guys returned to the Shire. Joel laid bricks, Cam drove a delivery truck for a printing company, Wade packed boxes for Freedom Furniture, Kosta served at an IGA check-out and Christian waited at a local cafe. The path to true success rarely runs smooth.
Still they believed in the music they were writing and continued to develop their sound and live show. They spent weekends at each other’s houses writing songs and rehearsing. They toured relentlessly building a live fanbase across the country. In 2008 the band performed at over 40 high schools during lunchbreaks before hitting local pubs at night. They spent countless hours online talking to fans on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter amassing a huge committed following, all the while piecing together about 60 songs for what would form their debut album.
"We are all super ambitious guys with a very strong work ethic and this whole experience was very humbling. I also become aware of how hard we would have to work to achieve the success that we knew was possible. It was like the world said ‘here is what you can have’ then took it away from us and said ‘Now make it happen’" says Christian.
The band’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed – nor did their growing fan base. In 2009 Sony Music offered Amy Meredith a new recording deal, a chance for the band to finally make an album. The dream was finally back on track.
Reconvening at a farmhouse in January where they rehearsed on its patio for two weeks, Amy Meredith cut the list of 60 songs in half, finally whittling it down to 15 tracks. Then, over six weeks at Mangrove Studios on the NSW Central Coast, they withstood the appeal of the site’s tropical swimming pool, quad bike and driving range to lay down their debut with Grammy nominated LA producer Brian Paturalski (Silverchair, Outkast) and Robert Connelly.
The result is an accomplished set that showcases Amy Meredith’s ear for great pop hooks and their ability to traverse styles yet still have a heart and soul all their own. There’s the sexy, dark swagger of “Lying”, the spacious, melodic anthems “Young At Heart” and “Start All Over”, the fun, upbeat pop-rock of “Porn Star”, a dose of dirty rock in “Faded White Dress” and the irresistible sunny ’60s pop of piano-driven “Highest Walls”. Solid synth lines, pounding rhythms and gorgeous guitar melodies combine brilliantly, while thoughtful arrangements ensure the setting is never cluttered.
“I love having a wall of sound, Phil Spector-style, but it’s about finding balance and giving it space,” Lo Russo explains. “We went for just enough space and instrumentation that it turned out right. That’s something we feel a real sense of accomplishment about, that it doesn’t sound too compressed and too compact.”
Rob Connolly guided the band each step of the way as producer, working alongside Grammy Award-winning US engineer Brian Paturalski (Aerosmith, OutKast, Silverchair). And with the 15 tracks laid down, the band scored a coup in securing the mixing talents of LA native Mark Needham (Killers’ Hot Fuss, Hot Hot Heat).
“Instead of pitching it to a lot of people, we thought we’d just pitch it to Mark to see what he thought. He heard a couple of songs and he was on the phone to us the next day, saying, ‘You’re really onto something.’ He wanted to be a part of it as much he could,” Lo Russo recalls. “He brought something new to the table in terms of giving the music the space we wanted, finding less compression and bringing up the bits that needed to come up, and bringing out the synths.”
And at the heart of the band’s sound are Lo Russo’s words, at times oblique and at other times strikingly direct and emotional – but always universal in scope.
“I always try to write from a place of honesty, a place of truth. If I write a concept, I like to be able to relate; that’s where I want the lyrics to be honest and I want people to relate to them,” Lo Russo states. “If someone is going to judge our band based on the lyrics and say they’re too honest or we’re wearing our heart on our sleeve, then so be it. But at the same time, people admire that too.”
In early 2010, several years after first being flown to LA, Amy Meredith’s first single hit radio. ‘Pornstar’ was an instant smash and was picked up stations across the country. Their hard-work building an audience paid off as thousands of fans across Australia requested the song and it hit #1 on the national Austereo Hot 30 Countdown. The second single ‘Lying’ also hit the top spot as well as reaching top 10 on the official ARIA Chart.
In July Amy Meredith release their stunning debut album Restless. The pieces have all fallen into place.
As Amy Meredith learnt early on, ambition doesn’t need to be a bad word. Getting their music heard by the most ears should be a main goal. And while their debut set aims high, it also showcases a band whose ability deserves to take them to the next level.
“You get one shot at your debut album,” Lo Russo states. “I think the record we’ve created touches on every single style we’ve had over the past two years. This is why I believe so firmly in the record; it covers our whole journey as a band. You can hear where we’ve been and where we are.”