Amber Smith are a Hungarian indie rock band based in Budapest, Hungary formed in 2000 by Imre Poniklo. The band's current line-up is Imre Poniklo (vocals, guitars), Oszkár Ács (bass), and Bence Bátor (drums). Amber Smith are one of the most notable bands from the Budapest indie music scene along with The Moog, EZ Basic and Yonderboi. The band's third studio album, RePRINT, was critically acclaimed and their song Hello Sun helped the band sign with the German major indie label, Kalinkaland records.
Amber Smith were formed by singer-songwriter Imre Poniklo in 2000 as a side-project in Budapest, Hungary. Imre Poniklo was the guitarist of the Hungarian alternative band Fanzine. Interestingly enough at that time the singer of the Fanzine was José Simon, a professional graphic designer, who is currently the stylist of Amber Smith. In 2000 Imre Poniklo asked his fellow Fanzine mates (Ákos Örményi, Péter Egyedi, Ádám Földes) help him recording a demo entitled Above the Clouds. Later the German Firestaion Records released four songs from this early demo entitled There's No Way. After releasing one studio album entitled Nincs Ránk Szükség (There's No Need for Us), and a five-song demo entitled Pozitív (Positive), Imre Poniklo left Hungary and moved to London, England and then to Ireland. The remaining members of the band formed the band, Annabarbi. In 2002 Ács Oszkár (previously played in Időrablók from Szeged) joined the band and in the same year Amber Smith recorded their first studio album in English language entitled My Little Servant. At the same time the line-up was changed four times (Nathan Johnson, Pete Pawinski, Tamás Faragó and Tibor Simon). The album My Little Servant was released in 2003 followed by a tour in Germany, France, Spain and Croatia. In addition, Imre Poniklo presented the album in Tokyo, Japan as a solo artist. Imre Poniklo wrote the song Were You Thinking of Me for Yonderboi's Splendid Isolation album in 2005. Later Zoltán Kőváry arrived and they recorded their first successful record entitled rePRINT in 2006.
In May 2004 Amber Smith started recording their third studio album entitled entitled rePRINT at the Akustair Studios and at the Fenn-Ti Studios in Budapest. The recording was finished in September 2004, however the band continued an additional recording at the Fenn-Ti Studios in April 2005. The producer of the album was Amber Smith and additionally Robin Guthrie (from Cocteau Twins) except the song rePRINT which was produced by Hungarian indie artist Yonderboi. The album was mastered by Jácint Jiling and mixed by Robin Guthrie and Gábor Deutsch. This time additional musicians contributed to the creation of the album. Violins were played by Dóra Maros and Györgyi Tihanyi while viola was played by Tímea Kerekes. The album was released by Kalinkaland Records and the song Hello Sun brought national and international success.
At the end of 2006 Amber Smith started working on their next album entitled Introspective. This time with a different producer called Chris Brown, who previously worked on Radiohead's The Bends as an engineer and on Muse's Origin of Symmetry. The eponymous first single Introspective was released in November 2007. The album was released by the Lithuanian label M.P.3 International as CD and digitally on 18 February 2008 first in Hungary, then in the Baltics and finally in Germany. The album won the award of the Best Alternative Record in Hungary in 2009.
On 14 March 2009 Amber Smith released an EP called Time. In spring 2009 the band played at the SXSW festival in the United States in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. In 2009 Zoltán Kőváry left the band in order to concentrate on his band, The Trousers, after 5 years which indicated a pause for the band. In 2010 Imre Poniklo released a solo album (with Amber Smith drummer Bence Bátor) entitled Poniklo. In 2011 Gergely Szabados (guitars) and Zalán Póka (keyboards) joined the band.
On 21 February 2012 Amber Smith released their fifth studio album entitled Amber Smith. The album was recorded at the Metropol Studios by Dániel Sándor and Eszter Polyák in Budapest, Hungary. The album was mixed by György Ligeti (We Are Rockstars and The Puzzle).
On 25 February 2012 Amber Smith presented their new album (with The Moog) to the Hungarian fans at the Akvárium Klub in Budapest, Hungary. In spring 2012 Amber Smith's tour included cities such as Kolozsvár, Nagyvárad and Debrecen.
On 24 May 2012, Amber Smith announced on their Facebook profile that Gergely Szabados and Zalán Póka left the band. It was also announced that Amber Smith continue their concerts in three (Poniklo, Oszkár and Bátor). They played at A38 with The Mission in Budapest, Hungary.
On 25 May 2012 it was announced that Amber Smith signed a contract with Kalinkaland Records which provide the release of the record Amber Smith in Germany.
On 8 November 2012, the single camera video Bourbon and Soda was uploaded on the YouTube site of the band. The lo-fi video was directed by Barna Szőke. The video stars band member, Bátor as the protagonist whose way is filmed throughout the city and countryside. At the end of the video Bátor arrives to a cellar of a pub where he meets the other Amber Smith members (Poniko and Ács) who are consuming Bourbon and soda.
On 5 March 2013, Amber Smith announced on their Facebook profile that Oszkár Ács left the band. The post did not mention any reasons for his departure. The band recorded four full-length studio albums with Ács, who also contributed to the songwriting with songs like Welcome To C.I.A., Bourbon and Soda, Faster Than The Speed of Light, Your Life Is My Death, Hong Kong Falls. Ács spent about 10 years with the band and later determined the sound of the band with his unique bass playing style.
On 29 November 2013, Amber Smith released their EP entitled Another Way. The EP contains the title track and Merciful Sea written by Poniklo and Zubkov. The album was recorded at Supersize Studio and Echo Studio in Budapest and it was mixed by György Ligeti and mastered at Abnormal Studio. Csaba Neményi, who played the live shows with the band in 2013, was invited to play the guitars on Another Way. The single was produced with the aid of Nemzeti Kultúrális Alap (National Cultural Fund).
On 7 December 2013 Amber Smith played at Gozsdu Manó in Budapest. The band recruited Tamás Faragó from the Hungarian indie band, We Are Rockstars.
On 15 February 2014, Amber Smith played at Corvintető, in Budapest.
In 2012 Amber Smith songwriter Imre Poniklo's side project, The Poster Boy released their debut EP entitled Melody. The physical cd was released by Firestation Records in Berlin and Bell Boy Productions in Barcelona. The cd features three new tracks as well as tracks from their debut digital-only cd Things We Had Time For.
Imre Poniklo - lead vocals, guitar (2000-present),
Oleg Zubkov - bass guitar (2013-present),
Bence Bátor - drums, (2001-present),