Being a band on the road is hazardous. When Ambulance Ltd was on the phone with Soul Shine, their vehicle nearly took a spill off the New Jersey Turnpike. And horrible, fiery car wrecks aren't the only dangers that travelling musicians face. These New Yorkers have been touring since January, first in the UK with The Dears and now on a headlining jaunt across North America with nary a break in sight.
"I've stopped drinking," proclaims guitarist Benji Lysaght, revealing how he survives the months of fast-food, late nights, and general unhealthiness. "You know, you don't get as physically run down. Drink a lot of water. And those little vitamin things you put in water."
It would be wise for Lysaght, Marcus Congleton (vox/guitar), Eric Ronick (keys), Darren Beckett (drums), and Matt Dublin (bass) to stock up on dissolving vitamins, because after their North American tour ends at Coachella, another UK run will begin. Ambulance Ltd is heading back to Britain come May to promote their debut album "LP", which finally received a UK release on March 14th.
"[It's coming out] like a year after it was released in the States. We're pretty excited about that," says Lysaght. "We had hoped that it would've happened a little bit sooner, but I guess we're better now at playing the songs than we were a year ago. So it'll be cool to go back."
While Britain is just getting hold of their debut, Ambulance Ltd is already making plans for their next release. "There are a couple songs floating around, and I think we're gonna start demoing stuff some time in late May or early June. We're starting to work some new stuff into the set now, so we'll get a chance to demo those, and hopefully in late summer or early fall start recording the next record."
Critics drooled over the lush, atmospheric sound of "LP", praising Ambulance Ltd across-the-board. It seems the aforementioned critics will get a bit of a shock when the quintet's sophomore effort rolls around. "Some of the producers we've worked with encouraged a lot of overdubbing, and we're more keen on the really produced and polished sound, you know? We were happy to try that, but right now we're gonna go for something different."
"It's probably a lot less guitars, a lot less atmospheric stuff happening," he continues. "The stuff we've been listening to is a lot of stuff from the '70s like John Lennon's solo stuff, Neil Young, The Band. I think we want to capture what we sound like live as opposed to making a big, lush, ethereal sounding thing with a lot of guitar overdubs. Try to scale it back to basics a little bit."
More balls-out-rockers than introverted-singer/songwriters when on stage, Ambulance Ltd will rope in producer Simon "Barney" Barnekoff to help them put that persona to wax. For now though, they'll concentrate on promoting "LP"; indie crowds may be won over, but the mainstream has yet to catch on. Always a hard nut to crack, Ambulance Ltd received a boost when teen-drama The OC took a shine to their song "Primitive (The Way I Treat You)".
"It's the crowning achievement of my career," Lysaght says jokingly. "I don't know how it came to be that we were placed in that episode ["The New Era"]. I guess The Killers were in that episode, and we were on tour with them at the time. I don't know if that had anything to do with it."
With scenesters crying bloody murder over "The OC Effect", it would seem a precarious line for any indie band to walk. However, Lysaght doesn't give it much thought. "I couldn't care any less about indie elitism. I think that's the farthest thing from my mind," he says dryly. "You want to have your music reach as many people as possible, and as long as it's not something that's ethically questionable, like selling cigarettes to kids or backing some right-wing fascist, having it on a TV show is fine."
He then simply points out the often over-looked obvious: "[The OC] has been really good to a lot of bands, as far as turning on people to bands that they wouldn't hear about otherwise. You know, it's great."
Footloose and fairly fancy-free, it's quite obvious that Lysaght lives in the now, "I'm more concerned about paying my rent right now than worrying about winding up in the pages of US Weekly," so when asked what he wants Ambulance Ltd to be remembered for, he's stumped.
Pondering the question as Ambulance Ltd speeds down the freeway towards another new destination, Lysaght offers an uncertain, "UmÖI guessÖit was a band that made solid rock music. I don't know." A few more seconds thinking time and he settles on an impish final answer: "That we were obscenely attractive!"
Well, we all have our goals.
Check them out at: www.ambulancenyc.com
Writer: Jaclyn Arndt