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Toms River Band Stirs Up Gumbo of 'High Energy, Sincere' Rock

The Amboys draw from influences as diverse as Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Motown, and it's lead to a big Asbury Music Award win

In our regular series recognizing great local bands, The Amboys stand out for having won some Asbury Park Music Awards and nominations in three short years. Several members of the band hail from Toms River, and they are this week's Spotlight on Local Music at Toms River Patch.

What is the current line-up of your band and when did you form?

C.M. Smith – Lead vocals-guitar

Manny Castanon - Bass

Connor Effenberger – Drums/vocals

Daniel Effenberger - Lead Guitar/Vocals

Give us some straight-up About You type stuff. A brief history of your band.

We got together back in the fall of ‘08. I answered an ad on craigslist that C.M. had put out. After he came around, we had our first guitarist Kyle join in, then Manny came along. We probably played about 50 shows within a six monthperiod which led us to winning our first Asbury Park Music Award for “Top Rock Band.” After releasing an EP and our first album, we began to dig deeper into our abilities to conjure up some new material. In the process we lost Kyle and that’s where my brother Dan came into the story. He had filled in a few times and helped us out with our cover of Neil Young’s album “Harvest”. He fit the group like dads in wrangler jeans. Since his arrival, we’ve put out the “Led Into The Woods EP” which is one of our best releases yet. Right now we are just keeping ourselves busy promoting the EP by playing a ton of shows, shopping for record labels and booking agencies. We’re also tracking another EP that we plan to release in the Spring of 2012.


What genre would you describe your music as/what bands have you been compared to?

We have a tough time classifying ourselves. I would say we’re just a rock and roll band with the sound of purple clapping.


What is your favorite place to perform at on the Jersey Shore and why?

There are bunch of great places have hosted us on the shore. The Asbury Lanes have been great to us since we first started. As a matter of fact, our first show was there back in ‘08. They’ve always offered us a place to call our home for our past two CD release shows and we hope to continue with the tradition for the entirety of the group.


Any recent news from the group--new music, big shows, upcoming tours?

We have been pretty busy keeping our schedule filled with shows before I go away to Arizona this winter. We have been tracking our third EP, which will be released in early ’12. It’s definitely the rawest bunch of songs that we’ve ever laid down. Anyone who has seen us play recently will understand where we’re coming from. In other news, we walked away from the 2011 Asbury Park Music Awards with “Top Rock Band” “Song of The Year” for “One of Those Nights” and C.M. took “Top Male Vocalist.” We’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s always really humbling when someone says they like what you do. Things like that really keep the car running.


What can we expect from a live show?

You can expect a high energy, upbeat, sincere rock show. We’ve worked so hard to be where we are right now as a band. We’ve locked into each other’s musicianship and exploit it. During the past few shows, we have been letting ourselves go on jam tangents. It’s been keeping us and our fans interested in old songs. Also, something worth mentioning is our bassist Manny. Has been known to have these 45-minute seizures while playing. It’s not something any one should be concerned about though. He’s totally got himself under control. It’s like seeing a show within a show.

What are some of your biggest musical influences?
We’ve all come from different areas of the rock realm. Growing up, Dan and I always were trading music interests. We’d go to shows like the Mars Volta,  Fleet Foxes, the Zutons, Kings of Leon. C.M. has drawn inspiration from guys like Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter and Tom Waits. Manny is really into everything. He’s got the rhythm of a Motown maestro and the energy of any classic brit punk group.  We’ve thrown all of this into a pot of what we call Amboy Gumbo. At least that’s what we’re gonna call it now.

How do we find out more about you?

We have a website www.theamboys.com.
We have a facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheAmboys
Our music can be downloaded on iTunes or theamboys.bandcamp.com

Anything else to add?

You can find our newest E.P. “Led Into The Woods” at theamboys.bandcamp.com for free until the end of the year. We would also like to let everyone know about some of the other RIDICUOUSLY TALENTED bands that we usually play shows with. Check out Mad Feather Group, Elevator Art, Thomas Wesley Stern, Wreaths and Accidental Seabirds.

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