Amazing Baby

By
Photography Matthew Brookes

Published March 17, 2009

Sitting down on a weekday afternoon with the five members of Brooklyn’s Amazing Baby is a bit like walking in on a party at your best friend’s house that you didn’t even know was happening. As the band members congregate at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, restaurant, coffee drinks quickly morph into a round of beers and white wines, promptly followed by Bloody Marys, as the road-weary group—fresh off a massive U.K. tour with current rock darlings MGMT—try to sort out just how they became New York’s most buzzed-about band without, until very recently, the benefit of an actual record deal.

Founded by Will Roan and guitarist Simon O’Connor in early 2008 after the demise of previous ill-fated bands, Amazing Baby snagged a profile in NME (New Musical Express) before playing a major live show. “They liked our MySpace page,” says Roan. “We were probably in the Top 8 of some other band they thought was cool.” Given the somewhat puzzling amount of early interest they’ve received, the two old friends wasted no time recruiting bassist Don Devore, guitarist Rob Laakso, and drummer Matt Abeysekera to fill out the lineup. A four-song EP, Infinite Fucking Cross, came out last July, quickly followed by the requisite amount of blog attention and one particularly memorable YouTube clip in which Amazing Baby plays outdoors to an audience of actual babies. “We were at a weird hippie festival on Martha’s Vineyard,” recalls O’Connor, taking a sip from someone else’s drink. “All the grown-ups were standing up on a hill away from the stage, but all of the babies came down by us and started dancing. Babies make a much -better audience than a bunch of stuck-up liberal-arts students. Babies love to dance . . . But let’s be honest, they’ll pretty much dance to anything.”

As it turns out, lots of full-grown adults like to dance to Amazing Baby as well. Songs like “Supreme Being” and “Pump Your Brakes” show off a certain amount of psychedelic aplomb, veering from guitar-heavy pop tunes to the kind of freaky-deaky space rock that so often garners comparisons to other Brooklynites like Chairlift or the band’s pals in MGMT. While it’s nice to be in the company of so many beloved bands, the endless comparisons can be a bit tiresome. “Journalists desperately want to believe that there’s some kind of San Francisco-y, naked hippie collective in Brooklyn that’s producing all of these great acts, even when it’s totally not true,” says Laakso. The upside to this fantasy, of course, is that writers in Amsterdam sit down to interview the five bandmates and immediately offer them fistfuls of complimentary magic mushrooms. “It’s awful,” says Roan. “They really want us to be this bunch of drugged-out boneheads. I mean, journalists in the U.K. actually offer you drugs and ask you about how much acid you have taken.” “Well, it worked!” says O’Connor, at which point everyone laughs and raises a glass. Clearly, American rock journalists need to find better connections.

A poet, essayist, critic, and native Oklahoman, t. cole rachel now makes Brooklyn his home.

Check out the band’s MySpace for a list of upcoming shows.