They may be from New York City, their singer may appear in The New York Times wearing trendy threads, but Ambulance LTD's connection with the Big Apple and its better-known indie cohorts ends there. The Brit pop quintet strays from garage or skinny-black-tie rock, defies the über-hipster category and doesn't appear to mind whether New York really cares.
"New York City is my least favorite place to play, as far as audiences go," says bassist Matt Dublin. "The audiences in New York tend to be pretty standoffish. Like if you play Minnesota and they don't like you, at least you know it's real. When you leave NYC you start to get a more realistic indication."
Though originally from areas as scattered as Oregon, Maine and Ireland, the band members flocked to New York City to seek higher musical ambitions, forming five years ago and nearly breaking up at one point. Last year's debut, simply titled LP, embraced part shoegaze, part psychedelia, part melodic pop and a strong English backbone. "We made a good record to build a career on," Dublin says. "A lot of music writers dig the record because they hear things that are a bit recognizable."
Still, "I think we needed a good single. If we had had one, things could have been different. If you could compare our record to, let's say, The Killers' (Hot Fuss), every song on their record is a single, and it's made that way. There's a certain formula and format. It's also hard when you're on an indie label (TVT Records)."
Opening for bands including Suede and Guided by Voices, ALTD has spent the past year both in the States and overseas, and built a growing fan base mainly by word of mouth, not depending on extensive radio airplay or hype to draw fans. "It's the rare occasion when the masses latch on to something that hasn't been force-fed to them through radio or whatever else," Dublin says.
(Anti-Pop Festival Opening Night Party, with We Are Scientists)
7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 19