From the Funky Mofo archive: It’s bound to happen. Having ‘former members of Jeff Buckley’s band’ all over your promotion, the expectancy switches are going to be on full power. My immediate opinion of The A.M was ‘what the hell do they think they’re doing’, I was unimpressed by their recorded offerings and the whole ‘former Jeff’ thing was not sitting right. For me, The A.M needed to work damn hard if they were going to sway my view. CB on the other hand was willing to give the band a chance and gave me a kick up the arse for being so opinionated.
The A.M is a collaboration between Michael Tighe (guitarist for Jeff since the Grace album), Parker Kindred (drummed for Jeff at some point) and Andrew Wyatt (who wasn’t in Jeff’s band but would have been brilliant if he had been). We caught up with the band on a very cold night at the Louisiana in Bristol. The Louisiana is probably one of the smallest venues in Bristol but it still manages to secure acts like the White Stripes. I think it must be the intimacy between audience and band that attracts people to play there. The atmosphere of the A.M. gig was one of uncertainty. I doubt many of the audience members had actually listened to any of the album, I over heard someone saying ‘I bet these guys are just doing this to top up their millions’.
I have been proved wrong on many occasions – this gig was no exception. Michael and the guys really do put on a good show. Their music is far more vibrant when played live and that is reflected in the reaction from the audience who couldn’t get enough! Several lads in front of us, who didn’t stop dancing throughout the entire gig, commented: ‘I wasn’t expecting this at all, it’s really great!’ I would have to agree. Having conducted only a few interviews before, needless to say I was shitting myself. The interview had already been arranged prior to the gig so it was just a case of getting on with it.
CB (who, if placed in the Wizard of Oz, would be Dorothy whereas I would be the cowardly lion) grabbed the attention of Michael after they had played and within a matter of minutes he was leading us backstage into the green room. Shortly followed by the rest of the band. We realised after the interview that placing the Dictaphone on the floor is one of the worst things to do when directing such an event. Thankfully we managed to salvage most of the interview with the aid of some fine tuned ears and a computer.
CB: First of all, how did you guys meet? Some of us know your background, but we want to hear it from you, so how did you get together?
Michael Tighe: Parker and I met in Jeff’s band and we played together in that band and many other bands, and then last September we got together with Andrew in his studio and we formed the A.M. We decided to go directly into the studio and record an album. We felt like we wanted to get something down on tape, we had a lot of songs and all of a sudden we felt this urgency to make a record, something for history, so we did. We recorded the first half in the fall, and then the second half in the spring. Steve (of Moldy Peaches) joined the band afterwards. Parker had been friend with him since he was 3.
Jo: Why the AM? Why that name?
Parker Kindred: Michael and myself were working in a job for a while together, a day job, a “society normal” job. A lot of the time the songs would be spawned in the late hours of night/early morning.
Michael: We’d be playing each other tapes, in the hallway, of music we just made and stuff. So there was a lot of creativity in the morning hours.
CB: You used to play guitar, Michael, in Jeff’s band, what made you decide to stand behind the microphone?
Michael: Well, I just started writing songs and there wasn’t anyone to sing them anymore!
Jo: You’ve got quite an English vocal sound, why did you go down that route?
Michael: On this album I was very very influenced by Bowie and T-Rex and it kinda came through. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but a lot of people found that too.
CB: That’s your first album, it’s just the beginning for you, what do you expect for the future, any sort of expectations? Or a route for the band to go?
Parker: We still don’t know. Just for us to get along and continue to work at our music, we’ll see what happens! As long as nobody dies or breaks a limb! (Tonight Parker is particularly caustic. Is it that he’s being tired from the gig, or the fact we mentioned Jeff? Whatever it is nobody’s laughing and the other band members are feeling a little uncomfortable but manage to remain professional.)
CB: So, there’s no going back to the day job?
Parker: Yeah, of course there is.
Andrew Wyatt: Parker misses his secretary!
Parker: I do! I miss saying ‘Good morning Secretary’! (laughs)
CB: Concerning the promotion that’s out there at the moment, it introduces the two of you, as opposed to the band in general, as former members of Jeff Buckley’s band. Is that a decision from you or the record company who is trying to get you as much exposure as they can? Is that the best way to do it?
Michael: It’s the promoters, they put it down on the posters. We try to keep it pretty controlled, down to a minimum, we’ve got to expect that.
Parker: We were trying to get the letters X J B. Ex Jeff Buckley’s Band.
Jo: Do you feel any pressure, do you feel you have to be better than?
Michael: No, we just do what we do, we love doing it so there isn’t really any pressure – otherwise we get pressured but not from that.
CB: In what ways do you feel pressured?
Michael: Just from life in general.
Parker: Writing songs, playing music, meet the audience, bringing something to them, creating some good reactions.
CB: You’ve certainly succeeding in that. It just shows with tonight! (People at tonight’s gig were very warm and a bunch of them were howling and electrified, chanting the band’s name!)
Andrew: We’ve got a sense that when we play these songs, we’re just all totally inside the music, totally open, there’s a sense of oneness between us which brings us together, very positive. That just came surging through tonight. The fans can take home something they remember.
CB: You’ve just signed onto Storm music, an England based label rather than someone in America, whereas you have an American management team. How did you sign to Storm?
Michael: Well, we were just recording the album, we were planning on putting it out ourselves. Storm heard some of the recordings and we were about half-way done, they came over and came down to the studio to see what we had, as soon as we’d finished they said they’d put it out.
CB: I expect it’s less pressure from someone like that who’s dedicated to music rather than marketing and sales figures.
Michael: Yeah, it just seems to be falling into place, what with the evolution of the band.
CB: About the lyrics, do you have a process in writing them or is it just a free flowing thing?
Parker: We’d be like Rush if I wrote the lyrics! (The band finds this remark particularly funny and falls about laughing)
Michael: Most of the time, if it’s good, it comes spontaneously.
CB: A message to the world?
Andrew: Switch the computer off, go outside!!
C.B Lux & Jo Whitby