OPPLE TOPPLE III: The Pre-Fest Skinny on Amber Blues
Amber Blues is a New Jersey based four-piece who have been together for over 9 years. The guys just put out a new album in early 2012 called “The Colors That You See.” I caught up with guitarist Jimmy Clark to find out a little more about the album and the self-proclaimed genre of New Classic Rock. You can catch Amber Blues at Opple Topple Fest this weekend!!
TSI: Describe your new album, Colors That You See. How is it different from your previous albums?
AB: This is the first album that we brought on a producer (Kobi Swissa) and he brought a consistency to the project that we had lacked on the first 2 albums (A Year And Some Days-2008 & Your Next Obsession-2010).The last 2 albums were very eclectic and genre-spanning, where TCTYS is very much a strong Rock album through and through. There’s still variety, which is an AB standard, but it’s more focused. There’s no funk or Latin influences on this one.
TSI: What made you decide to use Israeli producer, Kobe Swissa, for the third album? Why did you use one producer for this entire album but not for your two previous albums?
AB: We had always been DIY so hiring a producer on top of the usual expenses was never really an option. Plus we were trying to establish ourselves. When I (Jimmy Clark) met Kobi for our first meeting we talked in depth about the “new direction” the band was seeking and it was clear that he had the experience and vision to help elevate us higher. He had a solid respect for us before we brought him on..he was impressed with how far we had gotten without a producer (or record label, contract, manager etc..it’s really ALL DIY) so there was a great mutual respect which made the process an absolute delight. Though we felt we were well evolved, we saw immediately that Kobi had some skills that were more advanced, so we got an education on too of a great record.
TSI: Explain the Amber Blues self proclaimed genre of ‘New Classic Rock.’ What influenced you to end up with that genre of sound?
AB: We have always felt that we are a 70s hard rock band trapped in modern times. We LOVE classic rock but we also love music from today, so naturally the blend would occur.
There has been NU-Metal, and Neo-Classical Metal/Rock…so we figured why not “new classic rock”. It’s got a good ring to it an it’s not an established genre, yet MANY artists/bands can easily fall into the category.
Our main influences are Queen, Billy Joel, The Beatles, The Killers and Muse. We dabble in the Deep Purple realm of sound also.
TSI: It seems like Amber Blues is pretty involved in the community, advocating animal rescue, working with Project H.O.M.E., and Youth Rock. How did you get involved in these charities?
AB: Youth Rock, as we call it, is something that we all feel strongly about b/c it’s a way to guide the future. Dave and I are both full time music teachers; I own my own company doing private and group instruction while Dave works at an Academy and directs their youth programs. We involve our students in live performances at least once a year, usually at our big events (cd releases, special events).
Project Home is a fantastic organization that I discovered while reading an article about Jon Bon Jovi. He’s very involved with them and there were links and such, so I checked it out and was totally impressed. Their goals are very lofty, notably their intent to end Homlessness in Philadelphia, but they have the community and resources to make it happen. They also have many educational and social development programs, which is where we have been able to get involved. Last summer I took on a 17 year old intern, Vernon Jordan III, who wanted experience in the music industry, and so we worked together for 3 months. It was a great experience and we are still tight today. He’s graduated high school with honors this June and is already digging in for college next year.
Lastly, the animal welfare work, is very near and dear to us. My wife and I own “Helping All Little Things”, a small animal rescue and sanctuary. We mainly deal with and specialize in Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas and other small critters. We involve AB as much as we can, and often we’ll do rescue operations while on tour. So basically we pick up and drop off the fur balls to places on the way to or near our tour destinations.
TSI: What are you looking forward to most about Opple Topple Fest?
AB: This will be our first festival and we are stoked. We put on one heck of a show and we rarely have LARGE audiences… like festival large… to play to. We hope that this experience leads us to greater opportunities and success as we launch the new album.