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INTERVIEW: EVAN STANLEY from AMBER WILD – December 2023

| 19 December 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “All live all the time.” AMBER WILD started in January 2023 with one simple goal: make the kind of music they wanted to hear. Fiery guitars, thunderous drums, and raw vocals filtered through a kaleidoscope of influences make for something that’s the right amount of familiar and fresh. After spending the year developing their sound on the L.A. club circuit, AMBER WILD made their festival debut at this year’s Aftershock in Sacramento. Now, October is shaping up to be a big month for the band with the release of their double-A side debut single “Breakout” // “Silver.” These tracks will be out to the world on October 19, which will also be the first date of Amber Wild’s run directly supporting KISS on their End of the Road Tour in the United States. And while it may be the end of the road for KISS, it’s just the beginning for AMBER WILD. AMBER WILD is Evan Stanley (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Marshall Via (Guitar, Vocals), Jake Massanari (Bass), and Thomas Lowrey (Drums).” I was to grab some phone time with frontman Evan to discuss touring, new music, and more…

ToddStar: Evan Stanley, thank you so much for taking time out. It’s been a couple of years since I was able to last speak to you when you were releasing solo stuff. I’m so pumped to talk to you about Amber Wild and everything else going on right now.

Evan: Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time, and it’s good to reconnect.

ToddStar: Absolutely. Back in March 2021 when we last spoke, everybody was in the throes of COVID and trying to figure life out. You were doing a lot of solo stuff under your own name and using a lot of studio time. You’ve morphed back into a creative unit with the guys in Amber Wild. You were in a band before with The Dives, you went into solo stuff, and now you’re back into Amber Wild. What was the push for you to get back into a band situation?

Evan: Well, with the pandemic, we were shut in, we couldn’t really do much of anything. I was making some music with a couple of my buddies, and they were more pop leaning. I love a lot of pop stuff. More than anything we were experimenting and trying a lot of stuff in that kind of vacuum. We had time. But the thing is, rock is my home base. I started as a guitar player, so it was just kind of natural, when things were opening up as the pandemic came to an end, it was just what I felt like I was dying to do. More than anything, I love playing in front of people. That’s what I missed. And I played a cover gig with just some buddies for a friend’s birthday, and he was like, “You want to just go play a bunch of Tom Petty and Stones and shit?” I was like, “For sure.” It was so much fun just being back on stage. I was like, “I have to get a band together. I can’t do anything else.” So, I dropped everything and got a band together. It was just something I had to do. It was one of those feelings of like there’s no choice. I’ve got to do this. I reconnected with what got me into music in the first place, and that’s a great feeling.

ToddStar: The music is amazing. You guys put out the dual single  “Breakout” // “Silver” on October 19th. “Silver” is such an earworm, within an hour I knew every word.

Evan: Oh, thank you so much, man. That makes me so happy to hear.

ToddStar: I was able to see you perform it live the following night on October 20th, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Evan: Oh, that was a fun show.

ToddStar: It was crazy. My son was with me, and he’s 31, and he looked at me and he said, “Didn’t this just come out?” I knew every word. It was so fun.

Evan: I love that. Oh, man. That makes me really happy.

ToddStar: As for the two songs, and I’ve read some of the backstory on the two different tracks, but sonically, they seem to come from a different place, even though they’ve got your stamp on them. What can we expect with the other music that you’ve got lying in wait? Based on the live show, I’m betting there’s more than two songs out there ready to go. Sonically, what more can we expect? Are we looking for more in the vein of “Silver,” “Breakout,” something in the middle, or something left of center?

Evan: Oh, for sure. We wanted to put something out at the beginning of that tour that really gave people a window into what we’re all about, and we thought that “Breakout” and “Silver” were a good snapshot of the moment of these are the far ends of what we do. These are kind of the bookends. I think anytime you see us live, you get a good glimpse into that. Some of it’s a little closer to “Silver,” and some is a little closer to “Breakout.” But it all fits in that world of those are the bookends. That was the goal is to just show people, at least as a starting place, “If you like one of these, you’re probably going to find some other stuff that hopefully you like as well.”

ToddStar: What I like about the two songs is you weren’t afraid to step outside of cookie cutter rock sound, kind of experiment but also pull from your influences. It’s got to be hard to shut off your influences. When you guys are writing and putting this stuff together, is it hard for you guys to methodically say we’ve got to put our stamp on this stuff?

Evan: I think ideally, especially with a band, what makes a band special instead of just some guys playing some songs is that chemistry between members and that amalgamation of a lot of different influences that turn it into something a little unique. We’ve never really looked at it like, “How can we be different or how can we put on our own stamp?” We always just try and do the best job of making music that we love and trust in the fact that if we do that, it’ll sound like us. That being said, you kind of have to make sure one song doesn’t sound like Nine Inch Nails and the other sounds like Springsteen. I think as long as everyone has the same kind of guiding light and stays true to making the best version of us that we can, we’ll be okay. That’s what we’ve always tried our best to do.

ToddStar: It was interesting to watch the difference between that show on October 20th in Detroit and the show i saw in New York on December 1st. I got to represent you guys a little bit walking through Madison Square Garden. I bought the white long sleeve Amber Wild shirt at the Detroit show, and that’s what I wore to the December 1st show.

Evan: Oh, I love that.

ToddStar: People were asking me, “How are they?” I tell everyone “Forget any preconceived notion you have and just dig it.” The most fun was watching how much you guys had gelled and grown together on stage in those six weeks. When was it that you guys really felt it clicking or had the feeling it was working?

Photo credit: Matt Rogers

Evan: I think to me… I know the guys felt the same about this show, but I’m not sure if they all had the same show. For me, it was St. Louis. Detroit, Cincinnati, and Cleveland were amazing, but there was something about St. Louis where it was like, “Okay, this works. This is something, for sure.” There was just something about that show. We had kind of gotten our sea legs a little more and we’d kind of dialed everything in. We got more comfortable, and we really got to the point where we were just having a lot more fun. The first show is like, “Okay, we’re running ears for the first time. We’re running other tech stuff we had never done before. We’re on a bigger stage.” And the next show is going through all the footage of the first show, going, “This is what worked, this is what we could do better.” The third show was the same. By time we hit St. Louis, we were a little looser and a little more like, “Let’s just have a fucking blast” and we went out there and did just that. Obviously every show whether it’s a club… I mean, halfway through the tour, we played a club in Edmonton to 12 people. When I say 12, it’s not ‘like’ 12. I mean, literally, I counted, there were 12. Whether we played to 12 people or 20,000, we want to do our best to put on the same show and give the same energy and effort. I think St. Louis was the first show we kind of got to that point where it was like, “All right. This is working.” There’s this great video that T has that, I don’t know if he did it with a GoPro or his iPhone behind the drums, but before I started “Silver,” I was like, “Let’s get your lights out. Let’s get this going.” Everyone had their lights out, and I was like, “Oh, shit. They all did it. Wait, they listened, they did it. They did the thing.” I’m looking out, and there are 20,000 people with lights up, and it was like, “Okay, this is working.” Then we started the song, we hit the first chorus, and all the lights were still up. It’s like, if they didn’t like a song, that shit would be down so fast. There’s this moment where you can see in the clip, we’re on the pre-course, and I turn around to T, and I was just like, “Dude, what?” I love that he got that on camera. That’s the moment it really hit me. There’s literally a video of me just being like, “Oh, shit. Okay. This is really cool.”

ToddStar: That was one thing I noticed. I’ve seen a lot of shows through the years. When you watch the audience paying attention to an opener that is relatively unknown — this is Amber Wild’s first foray; you guys don’t have three albums behind you and you’re still trying to get your name out there — and the audience is actually paying attention. I saw people taking the pictures, taking video, and getting into it. Watching you guys in Detroit, I knew. There was a vibe – you could tell people were getting into it and digging it. Like you said, the lights didn’t go off.

Evan: That’s a great feeling. To put all of yourself and everything you can out there, and then go, “Oh, it’s reciprocated. People, they’re clapping, they’re standing up, they’re watching.” It was like, “All right.” There’s no feeling like that. I think we got some of that. We got a taste of it the first few shows, but St. Louis to me is where we’re really sunk in of like, “Okay. I think people like this.” It was really cool.

ToddStar: You guys rolled straight off the big tour and played a headline gig at the Bowery, which sold out. How’d that go over?

Evan: I was a blast. We did the Bowery and then we did the Echo in LA two days later. It’s funny, we had a few people and friends asking us “Well, what’s it like? Is it a bummer? You’re going from these arenas to back to this little club?” I was like, “No, dude. It’s the sickest shit ever. We sold it out, and they were there for us. That’s not a bummer at all.” That was the greatest feeling. Sure, it’s 1% of the size or something, but it was people who were there for us. They gave us their time and their money that night to see us play our stuff with no other band. There was no other crazy thing. It was an amazing feeling, and it went super well. I love that we had people who knew the songs, and we had people who knew songs that weren’t out. That was the crazy thing. At that point, there were kind of a lot of videos on YouTube and TikTok and Instagram. We had people getting into songs, and I’m like, “Where’d you hear this? This isn’t out yet.” It was really cool. So, I loved it. Getting to come back to LA and play the Echo was really cool. Our last show in LA before we left was at the Echo, and we were the first, first band. We were the first of three. And then we headlined it and packed it out on a Wednesday when we got back. So that was a great feeling. It was a blast, to the point where that was supposed to be our last show of the year, but I was like, “Ah, that’s such a huge bummer to wait.” So, we’re playing again on Tuesday, just because we love playing. We couldn’t wait.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur @toddstarphoto

ToddStar: Watching you on stage Evan, and I mentioned this when we talked before, you control the ebb and flow of a show really well as a front man, pulling together the singing, the guitar playing, and the control of the show. How second nature is that to you at this point, having done it before with The Dives and now Amber Wild? Watching now, you can see the growth and maturity Does that just come to you now that you’ve had more access to live performances and things like that?

Evan: I think the more you do it, you just have more fun with it. The more fun I have, like even after the Bowery, I remember getting off-stage, and the guys were like, “Hey, that’s the best you’ve been. Just keep doing that.” And I’m like, “Really? That was the best?” They’re like, “That was the best.” And it was like, “Okay.” And then again at the Echo, they’re like, “Okay, no, that was actually the best.” So, I was like, “Okay, sick.” So, I think it helps that I have the greatest band. I love these guys. They’re ridiculous musicians, super talented, and all really bright, and really on their shit. So, we are all watching each other, and they’ll pick up on stuff. After the shows, I’ve had Jake or Tommy or Marsh say, “Hey, you said this, and it worked great. Keep doing that.” Or it’s like, “Hey, when you did this, it was great, but you went a little too long on this.” I got the best dudes up there with me. It is just being comfortable with the guys you’re with and having fun with it. It’s like, “How much can I get out of the audience?” We want to give them everything we possibly got, and it’s easier to do that if we’re getting a little back. So, each show, we try different things of, “How can I get a little more? How can we get them to give just a little more to us?” And once you get over that initial like, “Oh, shit. A bunch of people.” When I was younger, my first show I ever played, I was just playing guitar, but I was literally at a 90-degree angle to the audience. They’re looking at my shoulder. Because I’m like, “Oh, shit.” Now, it’s like, “Look at me.” I love it. It’s just connecting with people. It’s a cool thing to be able to look out, and no matter how many people, you can always connect with certain individuals in the crowd. Even if it’s a sea of people, you can pick out someone who’s really vibing and say, “I see you. I see you, I hear you, I feel you, and let’s go.” That’s a really awesome feeling. For us, it’s just trying to do that as best we can and have as much fun doing it as possible, because that’s why we all got into it. It’s super fun.

ToddStar: It’s fun watching you guys. Another thing I noticed is you truly make it a band effort. Everybody gets introduced. Also, at both shows I’ve seen, you mentioned the name of the band four or five times, making sure everybody understands “This is a unit, this is who we are, and this is what we do.” For you as the front man, whether you’re claiming that title or not, to turn the mic over to Marshall or to give everybody their chance in the spotlight, that speaks to the camaraderie and the vibe that you guys are throwing out there, that this is a team effort.

Evan: Absolutely. And I am the front man. I’m the guy in the center, and I’m the one with the loud mic, but at the end of the day, it is a band. There’s enough love and enough attention to go around for everyone. I like attention, I like a lot of it, but there’s a lot to be had. You’re only better off for having three more guys who are great at what they do and can command a stage. That’s only good for all of us. We’re all trying to make a career out of this, and we’re all having fun. It’s way more fun to be hanging out with your dudes than by yourself. I think the same goes for playing shows. Marsh should sing. He’s a great singer. Jake’s fucking ripping and so much fun to watch. He’s got to have his moment, and he is just ridiculous. He’s got to have his due. I think it’s important everyone gets theirs, because it makes the group greater for it.

ToddStar: Absolutely, Evan, what’s next for you guys? You guys floated the dual single to kick the tour off. You’re going into the holidays. What’s your thought on new music, more music, and tour dates? What’s next for Amber Wild?

Evan: We got plenty more in the new year. Talking to a couple buddies and bands that we’re figuring out runs with them. For the immediate new year, keep putting out new music. We’ve got a lot of stuff we want to get out in the world. I think the first thing we want to start with is a live single, because we love playing live and we’re really a live rock band. That’s our thing. We want to show people, if you haven’t had a chance to see us, what we’re about and what a show is like. I think we’re going to start off the year by putting out something from this last tour, just raw, straight off the sound board, no edits, just this is what it is. Also, no one’s really doing that now. That’s something that I love. I grew up learning, and all of us did, by watching a lot of YouTube videos of live clips. It’s different than the studio. It’s a different feel, it’s a different energy. Not a lot of people are putting out actual live records now. We all think it’d be really cool to do that and just show what we do. We’re going to start the year with that, and then follow it up with a lot more studio stuff and a lot of playing. We’re trying to play as much as possible. That’s really what we got going. It’s a few months of playing as much as we can around here and hopefully expand that as soon as we can.

ToddStar: I look forward to anything you guys can put out, because I can’t get enough of what I’ve been able to find. So, I’m waiting for new stuff.

Evan: Oh, I so appreciate that.

ToddStar: We’ve talked about this before. This isn’t your first rodeo; you’ve been doing this for a while. You’ve done it in bands, you’ve done it solo. Looking back at that moment when you said, “This is what I’m going to do, this is what I have to do. This is in me, this is my lifeblood” knowing what now Evan, what advice would you give yourself then based on what you know now?

Evan: That’s a hard one, because everyone has a different journey, and everyone has a different speed. You have to get there your own way. Every stop along the way and every bump and every side quest has taught me something new and gotten me to where I am now, and I’m so happy to be where we are and so happy to keep running with it that I don’t really have any advice for younger me, because it’d be a different road then. I’d say just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll figure it out. There’s no way to really do it, but to do it. I think that’s for anyone. It’s so easy to get in your head and think about things over and over but fuck that. Just do stuff, and you’ll figure it out. Any time in my life that I’ve overthought things, it’s just wasted a lot of my own time. You try stuff, and really quickly, you go, “Yeah, this is it,” or “No, that’s not it.” I think that’s it. It’s just action is everything.

ToddStar: I think that’s a great outlook and view. Evan, I appreciate you taking the time out back in 2021 and I really appreciate it now. I love the opportunity to be able to tell you that your shit is spot on. You guys are nailing it.

Evan: Oh, man. Thank you so much.

ToddStar: I can’t wait to continue to wave the Amber Wild flag with music and at other shows. I dig wearing my Amber Wild long sleeve shirt. It is amazing. It was the only merch I bought at the Detroit show.

Evan: Oh, that makes me so happy. Thank you so much, man. I love that.

ToddStar: I look forward to new music. Hopefully, we can get on the phone once you start doing something more, get out on the road, and connect then.

Evan: I would love that. Hey, now, you got my number, so let’s do it anytime.

ToddStar: Sounds good, Evan. Thanks.

Evan: Thank you. Talk soon.

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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