Since its release in March, Le Reno Amps’ third album ‘Tear It Open’ has attracted glowing reviews in both underground fanzines and the mainstream press.
The quartet’s upbeat, catchy songs are a breath of fresh air and as they take their energetic live show around the UK it seems Le Reno Amps are attracting an ever-growing fan base.
Fronting the band are the dynamic duo of Al Nero and Scott Maple, who share lead vocals and form the band’s core songwriting partnership. Nero and Maple played in separate bands in Aberdeen before joining forces for the Go North industry showcase to play an acoustic session. They enjoyed it so much they decided to write some more songs together, later releasing their first LP ‘LRA’ in 2004. The duo then decided to decamp to Glasgow and released ‘So For Your Thrills’ in 2007, recruiting bassist Lindsay and drummer Jason in the process.
‘Tear It Open’ is the first album Le Reno Amps have recorded as a full band and Al Nero is happy with the outcome. “I dare say we’re a tight-knit live band and I feel this album really captures what we’re about” says Al. “For the first time there’s four of us, so you’ve got Lindsay playing bass and singing and Jason playing drums instead of Scott. In the past it was just me and Scott layering all the instruments, but this one is a lot more about playing in a room live and getting everyone’s contribution.”
The album was recorded at Chem19 studios with funding from the Scottish Arts Council and was produced by Sons and Daughters cohort Andy Wallace. “Andy’s great, Chem19’s great and we really feel we’re on an upward curve with this album” says Al. “I think we’re well past the stage of just jamming as a band. I mean, that has its place, but when Le Reno Amps started it was just me and Scott. Because there was just two of us we had to really make sure our songs stood-up and we take the same approach when we write together now.”
According to Al, the band’s main aim with ‘Tear It Open’ was to reflect the upbeat, punchy sound of their live show. “We wanted to make a short, sweet, up-tempo album” he says. The band were also unafraid to get experimental in the studio. “‘Gilded Road’ was just this dumb song, with only four chords but we tagged this electronic intro onto it” says Al. “That’s one example of doing things a bit differently, but mostly we just wanted to build the songs around the melody.”
A lot of bands get tagged as being great live, but anyone who has seen Le Reno Amps in action will tell you they justify that description more than most. “We enjoy playing together, and people see that” says Al. “Some bands just go through the motions but we like putting on a good show and having a banter with the crowd. Sometimes me and Scott like to throw each other off by playing something different in a song or changing it in some way- it keeps us on our toes!”
Describing the sound of Le Reno Amps has certainly given a fair few reviewers headaches, as the band draw on a potpourri of different influences. “Yeah, people say power-pop, indie, country…we don’t know what we want to be” Al comments. “When we make the album it’s basically the best ten or eleven songs we’ve written over the past couple of years that make the cut. If we waited to have, say, ten ‘power-pop’ songs then it would take ages.”
Perhaps part of the reason Le Reno Amps are so hard to pigeon-hole stems from the different influences of their two songwriters. “When I met Scott I was listening to stuff like Blur and Weezer, while he was more into punk and metal.” says Al. “He’d go ‘listen to this’ and stick on some Metallica and at first I thought it was rubbish but eventually your music tastes kind of cross-over. Another thing is there’s an eight year age gap between us so I guess Scott grew up with different bands than I did.”
Whatever the reason for Le Reno Amps’ unique sound, it’s worth checking out. Whether you think its rockabilly, indie, power-pop, or Caledonian mariachi the chances are there will be plenty for you to enjoy.
Le Reno Amps play Tigerfest at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh on 10th May
‘Tear It Open’ is out now on Drift Records