Amazing Baby Interview
By Alexander Laurence
Amazing Baby is a band from Brooklyn. The main members are Will Roan
(vocals), and Simon O’Connor (guitar). They are joined live by Don Devore (bass
guitar), Ryan Rapsys (drums), and Rob Laakso (guitar). Their first album
Rewild (2009) came out in June of this year. They are known in the LA area for
playing shows with Phoenix, Band of Skulls, and The Entrance Band. Their
recent show at the Troubadour was definitely a highlight of the week. They are
currently on tour. Check them out. I got to sit down with them and talk at Dan
AL: How is it living in Brooklyn now?
Will: Actually it’s really nice. I just moved to into a new apartment in
August. Everyone except Ryan lives in Brooklyn. We all live close to each
other in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. If the weather is nice, you can
comfortably walk to any of our apartments. We haven’t been there much this year. We
have been traveling and playing shows all over the world this past summer. I
feel lucky though. Every time we come home, it’s like coming home from the
war: everyone wants to hang out. When we leave, you get to have a goodbye
drink with all your friends. We are friends who are really talented who share a
similar lifestyle. Friendships have developed out of mutual respect of what
it’s like to be in a band.
AL: When the initial scene in Williamsburg happened with Yeah Yeah Yeahs
and TV on The Radio in 2001, where were you?
Will: I was going to Bard College. It’s two hours north upstate. I worked
at a record store in high school. When I went back for the holidays, they
would cut me a deal on records. I would order CDs and the next time I showed up
they would have it in stock. I remember getting Outhud and Lansing-Dreiden.
AL: It’s all about meeting and greeting the fans.
Will: A lot of people identify with bands that are real personable. We are
friends with Au Revoir Simone. They actually sing on one of our songs. We
are going to release it as a digital single. Every time they play, they make
it a point to work the merch table, and try to connect with everybody. I was
at the merch table last night.
AL: How does the songwriting happen in the band?
Will: The songwriting happens because I communicate with Jesus Christ.
AL: Do you channel JC?
Will: We started out as a home recording project. We got a lot of good
feedback. The first song we put up was “Invisible Palace.”
Simon: And then we had a party. It was a Myspace launch party. It was crazy.
AL: It was a slow night?
Simon: We had that party. Then we released the next batch of songs
including “The Narwhal” and “Headdress.”
AL: That was about a year and a half ago?
Will: Yes. It was in the beginning of 2008.
AL: There was the thing about people writing about Amazing Baby before you
had released anything and before you had played any shows. How do you feel
Will: Absolutely! I was excited. I was happy. I felt lucky. Everyone in the
band have had experiences with other bands. This is the first band where
people were interested in what we were doing. That was awesome. In hindsight,
it would be good to have a build up. Because anything that happens quickly,
can end quickly. You have to be smart when that all happens.
AL What were some of the other bands?
Simon: I have been in bands since I was fourteen.
AL: Some hardcore punk stuff?
Simon: Yeah. Actually I did do that.
AL: How did that go over?
Simon: That went great. It’s easy music to create, and it’s easy to enjoy.
This is our first show: yeah, destroy! Moshing hard! It’s fun as hell, but
it’s not very lucrative. Doing that past the age of twenty-two is too much.
AL: Do kids come to your shows demanding speed?
Simon: We have fast songs. We are a loud band, but we are not a hardcore
Will: I don’t think that people come to our shows expecting blast beats. If
they did we would give it to them.
AL: Do you have that in your arsenal?
Simon: Don and I have a side-project called Painus. We are a thrash band.
AL: Some of these bands that you have played with, Phoenix, Band of Skulls,
and The Entrance Band, seem like three different sorts of bands.
Will: We played a few shows with Band of Skulls, but we never toured with
them. We are a pop band overall. I would have liked to tour with Entrance
Band first. We have pop songs, so it makes sense to tour with Phoenix, but our
live show is more heavy rock. We are more psychedelic rock, so it makes
sense to play shows with Entrance Band.
AL: Did you play some festivals this year?
Will: Yeah. We played a bunch. We played in Japan, which was insane. It was
the Fuji Rock Festival and it was wonderful. It was one of the most
beautiful places that I have ever been. The crowd was crazy and enthusiastic. A lot
of festivals are like that. People go to these festivals because they want
to enjoy themselves. There is a lot of public urination. People ash in cups.
AL: Did you work with a producer on the record?
Will: We finished the record in January 2009. We did a lot of stuff
ourselves. We went to studios in New York. Most of the songwriting happens at home.
Simon: All songwriting is also recording. We don’t sit around with acoustic
guitars. Every idea we had we would record immediately, and then see what
AL: You are constantly laying down tracks?
Will: Yeah. It’s awesome to have new music all the time. You can email it
to your girlfriend. I don’t play guitar, so I can’t play acoustic guitar at
a party with a girl in a room.
AL: What is a good song to play, to close the deal with a girl?
Simon: I would say “Wicked Game” by Chris Issac. Bam! That will close the
AL: That is a good one.
Simon: “Cats In The Cradle.” Girls love it.
Will: Most of our songs were recorded and produced. The only song that
isn’t like that is “Headdress.” Simon wrote that on acoustic guitar. It is such
a heavily produced song, but it works on acoustic guitar too. That is a
song that you would want to play to a girl in a Jacuzzi.
AL: I saw a thing online in Fader Magazine. They were making fun of you
because you had an acoustic bass guitar.
Simon: When was the last time you saw an acoustic bass guitar? When Alice
In Chains played MTV Unplugged.
AL: Does all the live shows influence what the next record would be like?
Will: Everything we have done in the past year will impact what we do next.
All the mistakes and all the lessons will all go into it. In general,
everyone has their little place they go to write music. Playing a bunch of shows
doesn’t change that.
AL: Are you looking forward to playing any shows?
Will: I am looking forward to playing our show in New York City. We played
one show in Manhattan this year, supporting Yeasayer. That was wonderful.
There was like seven thousand people there.
Simon: We also played with Phoenix. We haven’t played our own show in New
York this year 2009. It’s great doing shows, and people came to see you.
AL: People sing the lyrics back to you?
Will: Yeah. It’s incredible. We are a difficult band. We do write pop
music, but we try to be experimental, and bring a nuance to it. We are not
extremely trendy. It makes people have to pay attention and listen. We have a
sound and a style with so much room to grow.