Amber Pacific, the pop/punk band hailing from Seattle, Washington is reuniting to record a new album produced by one of their musical hero's, Mike Hererra of MXPX. Their last album, Virtues, was released in 2010 and was their first album without original singer Matt Young. Young has re-joined the group for this new album along with guitarist/songwriter, Will Nutter and drummer, Dango. We were able to speak with Dango to catch up on the recording process and the new album.
We would like to thank Dango for taking the time to speak with us.
Hallels: What prompted Amber Pacific to reunite to make a new album after a few years out of the scene since your 2010 album Virtues?
Dango: "Amber Pacific decided to do another album after countless requests from fans, especially through our Facebook page. It has been 4 years since our last album and so we did a campaign through indigogo to raise funding for it. 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of the band first signing to Hopeless and putting out the first EP. 2004 was the year that I moved from Nashville to Washington and we hit the road."
Hallels: How was this writing & pre-production process different this time around with you living in Nashville?
Dango: "Will has always been the main writer for AP and so he worked on all of these new songs ahead of time. He has certainly grown in his writing and his style and influences have grown and changed. On the early albums he would sometimes come to me with a chorus or maybe a bridge and we would piece things together. I've never been a writer for us but have always contributed significantly in the arrangements. Especially because punk and pop punk styles have so many rhythmic chances in the songs. For this album Will sent us all his demos. When I flew to Washington, him and I spent a day hashing through the songs. Then Mike Herrera joined us and the three of us came up with some really cool parts. It was a really fun process and I've always enjoyed Wills' songwriting."
Hallels: What can AP fans expect with having original singer Matt Young back on this album?
Dango: "AP fans can expect the same old sound of Matt Young returning to the band. He was on the first two full length albums and essentially all of the good years of the band. When he left and we had to find a new guy, fans didn't like it. The third album which was on Victory instead of Hopeless didn't do nearly as well as anything before it. Despite the new guy being able to sing and write, fans didn't care. So this album really should sound like what people think of when they remember AP. Matt has been teaching middle school a few years and hasn't even been around music, but when gets fired up and singing, it still sounds like him."
Hallels: Who made the decision to have Matt sing with AP again?
Dango: "Basically Will and I decided to have Matt come back and sing. After the other singer quit we asked Matt to fill in a couple shows the last two years. One was actually playing at MXPX's 20th anniversary show in Seattle. So we always said that if we did another album we'd have him sing. We also had Justin the other original guitarist for those shows, and as a result he will be on the album also. He left in 2006 and Matt left in 2008 I believe. So it's all the original AP lineup except our bass player Greg. He left for personal reasons and will not be a part of the project or any future shows."
Hallels: What was it like having punkrock legend Mike Hererra (MXPX) produce your album and record at his studios?
Dango: "Recording with Mike was really a cool experience. He's an awesome dude and really fun to work with. He also fronts my all time favorite band and so for me it was pretty special. Mike sang at my wedding and I have had the chance to sit in on drums with mxpx about five times over my career. He hit me up about producing our album if we were interested. I was pretty surprised and thought it would be great. Once we got there he was really laid back and easy going. He had good input and he also let us do our thing since we have done so many albums by this point. His studio was really cool and had a great vibe to it. It is a full house with the studio upstairs, complete with a drum room, guitar room, vocal booth, and the control room. The middle floor is a rehearsal space setup with drums, amps and PA for easy pre production. And then the basement is set up with rooms and beds for people to fly in and stay. So I spent several nights there actually and it was totally comfortable. His engineer Brad also did a great job and was easy to work with."
Hallels: How was it having Mike play bass on the album and he will be doing a guest vocal on a song as well, correct?
Dango: "When Mike asked me about producing I mentioned we needed bass on the record and he gladly offered. It was totally an honor to have him play. I mean I have an album coming out with "Mike Herrera bass tone" on it. We told him to cut loose and have fun with it. But he's a songwriter of course so he didn't want to go too overboard. But the guy really has some chops from 20+ years of playing and he laid down some really cool parts. I think his sound is totally recognizable. He will definitely do vocals on something for this project. We might have another surprise vocalist or two but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag too early."
Hallels: Have you guys set a title or release date for the upcoming album, are there any touring plans to support the new album?
Dango: "No title or release date are official yet. I would expect it done by the end of May but we haven't finished tracking everything yet. Currently there are no tour plans. We considered pursing Warped Tour this summer as it is the 10 year anniversary of our first one but it was too late by the time we started talking to them."
Hallels: Since moving away from Washington and Amber Pacific as a full-time gig to Nashville, how has that transition been?
Dango: "Moving from Seattle to Nashville was a big transition for me. After being in a band for almost 10 years it becomes a big part of you. I graduated from Belmont University in Nashville and planned to do music. When the AP opportunity came up it was following my dream as well as where I felt God was calling me. And similarly all these years later, my wife and I felt called back to Nashville, though she had never been there. AP had finished touring and I was teaching lessons and taking other gigs. I played in a Johnny Cash tribute band called Folsom Prism that was awesome. Look them up! I started getting into country a year or so before that and so Nashville seemed like a good option.
Since moving a year and a half ago I have had some great opportunities to play with several different artists, in totally different styles of music. In the Christian world I have done tours drumming for RED, Manafest, Je'kob, and Tricia Brock from the band Superchick. I also played on Tricia's newest album called Radiate, including the first radio single called "Enough". And in the country world I have played with Craig Campbell, Deana Carter, Ty Brown, and Katie Armiger who I currently am playing with."
Hallels: What projects will you be playing with for the remainder of 2014?
Dango: "The music industry is so up and down and you never know what is coming next. I will play with Katie as long as I can because she is super talented and great to work with. I believe she will probably blow up in the country world in the next couple of years. I will also continue to play with Tricia when the schedule allows and I really enjoy that. Possibly some Amber Pacific reunion shows will be on the horizon. I will do as much studio work as I get offered. I will continue to play at my church Cross Point as well as teach lessons. I'm working to get the skype thing going soon. I feel very fortunate to do music at all and I don't take it for granted. I probably have at different times in my career but Nashville is always a humbling place. As long as God allows me to play drums and use that to share my faith with people, I will continue to do it."