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Ambulance Ltd.
By alexander laurence

Ambulance Ltd. is a new exciting band from New York City. They recently put out an EP and have an album coming out early next year. They have a mix of cool influences and have mastered the art of songwriting. They come from all over the United States and the Ireland to make this music happen. Marcus Congleton is from Oregon and sings and plays guitar. Andrew Haskell is from DC and plays keyboards. Darren Beckett is from Belfast and plays drums. Benji Lysaght is from Los Angeles and plays guitar. Matt Dubin is the only member from New York City. He plays bass guitar. They recorded some tracks with Jim Abbiss who also did the recent Placebo record. We are looking forward to their first album on TVT Records. I spoke to Darren, Andrew, and Benji right before their sold out show with Placebo in Hollywood. The reaction from the Placebo fans was positive. We look for bigger and brighter things from this band in the future.


****

AL: How has the tour been going?

Andrew: We have been playing about ten shows with Placebo over three weeks. The sound in New York was dodgy and the show sucked. Some people gave us a good reaction. It was a good show but not the best one on the tour. This is the first time we have done a tour on this scale.

Darren: Our best shows were in Canada. They were really receptive.

AL: In New York, you are seen as one of the up and coming band. A band to check out. But people on the west coast haven't seen you yet.

Andrew: No. I don't think so. We got a little airplay out here. I don't think many people have seen us play live.

AL: The following in New York is pretty good though?

Andrew: It's pretty good. It is getting there. For a while it wasn't much. It just goes to show, once you go outside of New York, it's a different story.

Benji: We are trying to play outside of New York as much as possible. New York City is not the litmus test for what's going on, in terms of what the fans actually like. People in New York are very selective and jaded. All the clichés you heard about the city are true. Once you step outside the city it's like night and day. People around the country and in Canada and more open to give bands a chance. They are not arrogant about music. They don't care what you look like.

AL: You think that it is like that everywhere outside of New York City?

Andrew: When we played Boston for the first time a few months ago that was our first experience of that. It was amazing. It was their attitude. They were willing to give bands that they never heard of a chance.

Benji: London was like that too. It was great. That was our second gig outside of New York. People were jumping onstage and going crazy.

AL: England has a great music press. You hear about a lot of band very fast.

Andrew: You can play New York for years and create a vibe. Then you go elsewhere and make waves. People in New York want you back. They want to claim you. They say "You are a New York band."

Darren: We have had good shows in New York too.

AL: A few years ago, people were saying "Oh no, not another band from Sweden." Now they say "Here's another band from New York."

Benji: Good music is good music. There is always stuff coming out of New York. There is so much going on. People are hesitant to claim something. They are afraid that people are going to like something else. Or there's going to be some other trend coming along. People like to have their own secret find. When you become too big, people look for something else that is special. In New York, that happens all the time. There are always bands coming from the underground into the mainstream.

AL: How did you meet each other?

Andrew: I met Marcus and Darren a little over two years ago. We started playing together. It was a completely different band. Benji joined about a year ago. Matt came in a few months later. We knew each other for a while as musicians in the city.

AL: What do you think about this focus on the city?

Andrew: There is a certain aspect of having a garage element to your band to identify with all the other bands. Not only are we different than most garage bands, we also come from different backgrounds and cities. At the same time I love New York.

Benji: We are one of the most non-NYC sounding bands. For one, we are not a garage punk band. We are not doing that minimalist garage punk thing. We don't subscribe to this fashion esthetic that is attached to a lot of these New York bands. We still look good. We don't care if a lot of record labels are operating with this formula.

AL: New York magazine did that article last fall where there was 25 NYC bands you need to know. Every band wears black and is smoking cigarettes.

Andrew: It's the retro thing, trying to look like Television.

AL: How do you work when it comes to songwriting?

Andrew: All the songs on the EP were written when all of us were in the band. "Stay Where You Are" is the very first thing we recorded as a band. Marcus writes the songs. He does the chords and the melody. He writes the lyrics. We all add parts and the songs evolve over time.

Darren: Marcus is the main songwriter but recently we all wrote one song together.

AL: Why did you release an EP rather than a full album?

Andrew: We recorded a full album in London. It's done. We are coming out with a single there in September. The album will come out at the end of the year. The record company wanted to do this EP in America. We were glad to have something out.

AL: Did you play a lot of shows in England and Europe?

Andrew: We were recording our album in London with Jim Abbiss. We only did one gig. We played with Rooney.

AL: Jim Abbiss did records with Placebo and Massive Attack.

Andrew: He has worked with DJ Shadow, The Music, and Sneaker Pimps. He's great. Jim works with another guy called Barny who engineers. Together, they make a good team. Being over there was a trip.

AL: Why did you record it in London?

Andrew: For one, because Jim Abbiss is based there. It was a chance to go to England. We had already signed to Island Records over there. This relationship between Island and TVT is a new thing. They are putting out a separate EP, singles, and the album.

AL: Is there anything else you liked about England?

Darren: I like English food.

AL: Where did you record the album?

Andrew: A couple different studios. We started off at Mayfair. Then we went to Shoreditch. There is a studio called The Garden. That is actually Matt Johnson's studio. We finished mixing it in Hammersmith.

AL: Darren, why did you come to New York? You are from Belfast?

Darren: I always wanted to move to New York. I got kicked out of an apartment. I just packed my stuff one day and left. I owe people a lot of money. I ran up a bunch of phone bills. I have all my visa and citizenship stuff sorted out over here now.

AL: Are there any other bands that you like?

Darren: BRMC.

Benji: I like Jon Brion a lot. He's playing tonight at Café Largo.

AL: Any other bands.

Andrew: Elvis Costello, Talk Talk, Joy Division, and The Cure.

Darren: Spiritualized.

AL: Do you have any hobbies?

Darren: Drinking and making love.

AL: Do you have a hangout in NYC?

Darren: There's this bar called 119.

AL: What do your parents think of the band?

Darren: they hate it. Actually they are fans. Benji's mom and dad are here tonight.

AL: What is the hardest thing about doing music?

Darren: Listening to it. We are playing the same songs every night and trying to make it better.

Andrew: The uncertainty. The fear.

AL: Do you improvise onstage?

Benji: Every night is different. Especially on tour. Every venue is different and every guy you meet is different. Now we have rented equipment. It all changes. It's hard to find an equilibrium and adapt to everything to make it presentable and excellent. We need to be comfortable enough to play our best. If your are hung up on something, it's going to effect the show.

AL: What is this picture on the cover of the EP?

Andrew: That is actually an ambulance. We didn't know till after we saw it. It's a picture of a washed out ambulance. It's a reflection of a wheel on a wet road.

****

Website: www.ambulancenyc.com

 

 

AL


--Alexander Laurence

 

 




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