Bruins, Beers and Body Modifications
Aussie Metalcore Band The Amity Affliction Talk Hockey, Tattoos and their Ridiculous Song Names on their North American Tour
To survive being in a metal band requires serious endurance: no one knows this better than Ahren Stringer, 29-year-old bassist and vocalist for The Amity Affliction, who has simulated drowning, been lit on fire, and has remained on the open road doing nonstop touring over the last year, all in the name of the band.
Formed in Queensland, Australia in 2003, The Amity Affliction’s music has something for everyone; serving up ultra-catchy chorus hooks sung by Stringer’s powerful pipes right alongside brutal breakdowns with screamer Joel Birch’s incisive lyrics ringing of loneliness and desperation.
The band’s latest album, Let the Ocean Take Me, is their fourth full-length and most ambitious endeavour yet. Their single “Pittsburgh” is about Birch’s near-death alcohol withdrawal experience while on tour, and its music video has the band playing in an attic, knee-deep in water, only to be eventually completely flooded and submerged, continuing to rock all the while.
“It was fun, but…” Stringer said hesitantly, on the phone with The Link.
“We started at, like, 7:00 p.m. and didn’t finish filming until 7:00 a.m., it was like 12 hours of hell. In the water, under water, the chlorine burning your eyes, and it was freezing cold as well,” he said.
“It was fun for a little bit, but for the most part, we were working hard.”
The Amity Affliction – “Pittsburgh”
Another single from Let the Ocean Take Me is “The Weigh Down,” whose music video features the band members and their instruments burning up in flames. No special effects trickery necessary—just careful stunt execution and braveries of steel.
“‘The Weigh Down’ was fun too, we were working with professional movie guys ‘cause it was pretty dangerous, obviously, ‘cause it was real fire,” Stringer said.
“But no one got hurt, and it was fun. It was much easier and quicker to film, too.”
The Amity Affliction – “The Weigh Down”
While the band’s fourth album is a foray into intensely personal songs about depression, suicide, addiction and more, their music wasn’t always so thematically heavy. Joining the likes of The Devil Wears Prada’s early work, a lot of The Amity Affliction’s initial songs boasted joke-y titles. Multiple songs are named after refreshing beverages (“Dr. Thunder,” “Olde English 800,” “Pabst Blue Ribbon Ice,”), others are named for cult film quotes (“15 Pieces of Flare”), and others still just feel like sentiments of a drunk (“Fuck the Yankees,” “Geof Sux 666”).
“I guess we didn’t take ourselves too seriously back then, and I guess, now, it’s as good a time as any to stop doing dumb names and naming them what they should be,” Stringer said.
“I don’t know, I think it’s just better for someone who wants to talk about our songs, like, “Oh, ‘Don’t Lean On Me,’” rather than, fuckin’, “Uncle Bob’s Dick,” you know what I mean?” he laughed.
“It doesn’t describe the song. […] I guess we’re just growing up.”
The Amity Affliction prior to growing up, Rick Rolling their fans –
Touring Across Continents
The Amity Affliction passed through Montreal last October with melodic metalcore greats For the Fallen Dreams, and now they’re back for seconds co-headlining a tour with hardcore band Stick To Your Guns.
“We’ve only been to Canada few times now, but yeah, it’s rad,” Stringer said.
“It’s cool to be able to come to the other side of the world and people still know our music, singing our words back to us. It’s great.”
Stringer went on to say one of the best shows they’ve ever played was at Toronto’s Warped Tour stop a few years back.
“The Toronto show was, out of nowhere, so amazing. It was pissing down rain, and everyone was still there moshing, just really great vibes,” Stringer said.
“I think we sold out of merch by, like, fuckin’ 10 a.m. or something. We sold out within an hour, all of our merch that we brought to Canada. It showed us how crazy the fans are over here, it was a really fun show,” he continued.
And The Amity Affliction has a major interest in common with the Great White North—a love of hockey.
“We just always play NHL on the bus, it’s a great way to pass the time on tour. And we’re all really into it now, the game in general. We watch a lot of games, do some betting,” Stringer said.
He said hockey is an acquired taste picked up on tour, however. The hockey bug has yet to reach the land down under.
“No one [in Australia] really knows it exists,” he laughed.
Skin Real Estate
As with many members of the metal/hardcore community, Stringer hosts a museum of tattoos on his body, including two full sleeves, a massive chest piece, neck tattoos, leg tattoos and more.
It’s no surprise that Stringer says if he weren’t playing music, he’d be a tattoo artist.
“That’s my one other passion, drawing and painting,” he said.
But he warns about rushing into the tattoo game: he’s had almost as much laser surgery as he has had ink sessions.
“I started getting tattoos when I was, like, 17. I’ve already lasered one whole arm off and tattooed over the top of it, so I’ve made a few bad decisions. It definitely hurts more [getting tattooed on lasered skin], big time, especially the neck. That was fuckin’ hell,” Stringer said.
When wrapping up the interview, Stringer said the band was five hours down, 10 hours to go in their tour bus driving to Chicago for the next day’s show.
“There goes our day off,” he laughed, adding that they’d be driving all through the night.
The Amity Affliction // February 19 // Paradox Theatre // 5959 Monk Blvd. // 6:30 p.m. // $24