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Interview: Liberties – Amy McIntosh

It’s no secret that I love me some Liberties! With a new track and vid dropping last week I had the chance to yarn out with Amy McIntosh about the new song and all things Liberties. Continuing my never ending quest to explore the relationship between heavy music and the queer community, Amy was generous enough to share her perspectives and experiences as a queer female who is right in amongst her local hardcore scene and slaying!

Hey mate, thanks heaps for having a chat! For anyone who might not be familiar with yourself and Liberties, give us a bit of background about you, the band, your role in the band, the usual stuff…

Not a problem I love a good chat. I am Amy and I play guitar in a band called Liberties. We are a Newcastle based Rock/Hardcore-esque, 3-piece band consisting of Ciaran on Vocals, Kieran on Drums and I do some pedal wizardry to cover all guitars. My role in the band is 90% head banging, 10% guitar playing.

Newcastle has been producing some pretty decent bands the past few years. How do you find the local band scene, what are some positives and negatives of being a Newy band right now?

It’s amazing to see your mates doing well! It’s that simple I think. Newcastle is pretty small so you sort of get to know a lot of people and I get so giggly and happy seeing them all doing so well! Sure, people might get sick of seeing bands all coming from the same geographic location, but I don’t think so.

We struggle with all ages venues just like most cities.

The biggest negative that a lot of bands in smaller cities might feel is; seeing each other as ‘competition.’ But I think that’s just stupid. We are making art. You are making art. Be proud enough of it to not buy into that.

(Did you take this photo? Please contact us for credit.)

Liberties has had a pretty tidy year so far! You kicked off with two headline runs and have been following up with a string of local support spots for some amazing international bands (’68, Miss Fortune, Slaves, Outline In Colour), how does the experiences of doing these supports VS tour shows differ and do you prefer one over the other?

 It’s amazing to meet and play alongside people I have grown up idolising. There isn’t much that can compare to chatting with Josh Scogin (’68) about pedalboards. Haha. But when it comes down to it… jumping in a car with your best mates and getting to see parts of our country I never knew existed whilst simultaneously meeting some amazing like-minded artists all around the place… I think touring takes the win for me.

Recently I’ve been talking to queer folks who are in amongst the heavier music genres, and I’ve been realising that if there seems to be one group that’s even more under-represented in heavy music than females, it’s the LGBT+ community. Is this something you’ve considered at all, and if so what are your thoughts on this seeming lack of diversity?

That’s a really interesting idea and something I haven’t fully thought about. In my experience sexuality has never really come up. I have copped more sexism that I can poke a stick at but I cannot recall one homophobic moment. Thinking about this has fully made me proud of the people I have encountered so far. Haha.

I have a few LGBT friends that I’ve made from this band, both male and female. I think the diversity is there but it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just life. It’s just love. It’s no different.

Sure, there aren’t as many LGBT people in the heavy music community but I think that might just come down to them not liking heavy music as opposed to them not feeling accepted. That’s just my experience anyway.

That being said. Liberties has had in its time has two queer female members and I would like it known that our shows have and always will strive to be a safe space for the LGBT+ community. I swear on that and the boys (Liberties) swear on that.

Being queer and female, do you ever worry that people may assume Liberties are offered certain opportunities as purely acts of tokenism/quota filling rather than the bands artistic merit?

Yes. 100%. I even for a while thought that might be true as well. But we work hard. Really hard. We also have copped a lot for having a girl (or two), so I had to convince myself it balanced out. Haha. But short answer, yes, I worry. Do we get extra opportunities? No, I don’t believe so. I believe writing riffs and head banging till we pass out is what gets the opportunities.

Well, we ain’t nobody, but you guys really are top shit, one our fave bands easy.

 Haha thanks, you really are legends.

Sooooooooooo do you guys have a bass player right now…orrrrr…….?

Bass player. We do not.

In our most recent trip to the studio I wrote and tracked bass. But live is a whole other story. I do some magical signal splitting, pitch shifting wizardry with a pedal board into two different heads and it sounds pretty mean. Our last few shows the setup and tone was getting some pretty big praise so we are going to stick with that for a bit.

Frees up room on stage for guitar spins and punching each other haha.

That is so SO cool! Sounds like you’re enjoying pulling double duties. I’m a big fan of atypical bass so I’m super excited to see this live.

 It’s a lot more pressure. And A LOT more gear to carry, but it’s worth it to have stretching space in the van on outta town shows haha.

Liberties just put out a new track, what’s the song about and can you tell me a bit about the video and making it?

Our new song is ‘Till It’s Over’. Being open and upfront, it’s about depression. Ciaran our vocalist wrote the lyrics. But we have all had the experience. The cool thing about being in a band with your best mates is sometimes something gets written and it strikes so true with you because you get that person and they get you. That’s this song. It’s from a time where we were all feeling down. Some bad stuff happened and things weren’t going right. I was drinking and writing music to try and fill the time, ALL THE TIME and Ciaran comes into my room with a set of lyrics and it was perfect. He is amazing.

The video is trying to show isolation and the feeling of loneliness even when you’re not alone. Joel Black at Tommirock did the video. He is both amazing and beautiful. It was a stressful experience, because I struggle letting go of creative control, but Joel was really really great to work with. He didn’t give up until we were all happy. Top bloke. Top company. Go check out all the stuff out of Tommirock studios. So good.

I love your love for your bandmates. And yeah, I’ve been seeing amazing things come out of Tommirock for years, definite legends.

 Yeah Mitta Norath who also produced/mixed/recorded the song also works out of Tommirock. It’s the best place. Best vibe. Very passionate people.

 You guys were dropping some promos in the lead up to the single release and a couple of the images had people thinking it was the end of Liberties. (Lucky me, I knew it wasn’t because we were in the middle of this interview at the time, otherwise I would have been right there with them, haha.) Did people freaking out worry you guys? Or were you having a bit of a chuckle?

We were having a bit of a chuckle to be honest. People that knew us well enough to know we were just promoting played along, and it was great. But the idea behind it was serious. Stuff ends. Things change. Nothing is forever. ‘Till It’s Over’ really explores the feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Weve always got to ask, what are some local bands and releases you’ve been getting into lately?

Can local include Sydney?

Oh yeah of course! Any small bands from anywhere are welcome…

I forever stand by my opinion that Baltimore from Sydney slay. They are sick to watch and their music is emotional and powerful. Go watch their video ‘Impermanence’. There is a dope band from the US called Feverwar, I don’t know if they count as small but they are amazing they deserve more attention.

Also, not small but I want it known that Awaken I Am’s new album is better than Garlic bread. Haha

 Big call! Haha.

 Big call. BIGGER ALBUM. Straight fire.

Finally, what have y’all got on the cards for the rest of the year, shows?

There are just a few little sneaky release shows coming up to round out the year. Keep an eye on out Facebook / Instagram / Twitter for dates and deets in the next week or so.

Sick as! Anything sneaky we didn’t cover you want to add in?

The new Animal Crossing mobile game is sick.

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Liberties play the Record Crate on December 6th.