The Amblers’ sound lives up to their laid-back moniker
Over cold ale on a brisk fall night, three of the four members of the Amblers, each armored with winter beards and disheveled hair, discussed the origin of their band’s name. If you caught a snapshot of this scene, you might mistake these fellows as stern mountain men brooding over a day’s wood work, but wrong you’d be. They chose to be called the Amblers for a reason, and all passive implications apply.
“I think it’s appropriate for the music at times, or at least our demeanors,” said guitarist/vocalist Peter Hansen.
From their fall 2007 formation as a trio to their current status as a four-piece with a newly released album, the group has evolved casually. Beginning with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Gerrard and a handful of pre-made tunes looking to make some full-band connections, The Amblers were made whole by the addition of close friends Landon Moblad (drums), Byron Dunning (guitar/vocals) and Hansen.
Their friendship predating the band’s existence has helped to keep a certain level of honesty and humility among bandmates.
“Because of that it’s a lot easier to check your ego at the door,” Hansen said.
Another bonus to their level of comfort is the fact that everyone naturally and equally pulls his weight in the group, and brings his own presence into the band. Any ideas, whether they are straight rock licks or laid-out bluesy chord progressions, are taken by each member and filtered through the band’s easygoing, open-minded, multi-instrumentalist approach.
“Immediately we weren’t pigeonholed into any one genre,” said Gerrard.
If you felt compelled to categorize The Amblers’ style, it might be easy to lean toward something like alternative country-rock. But upon closer listening to the ‘50s surf-rock licks, straightforward ‘90s alternative sounds and catchy rough harmonies, you realize there’s too much going on to call it any one thing.
The group’s songwriting has matured with the recent release of its first album, Ottoman Empire, which finds the guys continuing to dodge labels by staying open to different styles, from the Beach Boys-esque campy feel of “Not as Good but Easier” to the simple and heavy-tempo vibe of “Better Than the Ice Cream Man.”
“[It’s] not more complex, just better written,” Hansen said.
And the progress in the band’s approachable, hook-driven sound has manifested in high-energy live shows that have made them in-demand local openers, as well as occasional out-of-town visitors at places like Sacramento’s Fox and Goose Pub, where they’ll be performing Dec. 12.