Friday Interview Interlude - Seven Questions with Amo Amo

Photo by Robbie Jeffers

Today we have an interview with LA-based psych popsters Amo Amo. The band formed when vocalist and guitarist Love Femme joined forces with a quartet - Omar Velasco, Justin Flint, Shane Mckillop and Alex Siegel - who had been playing as The Mother Tongues. The newly minted quintet decamped to California wine country with My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, and isolated from the outside world and cell service they binged Stranger Things, recorded their eponymous debut, and came up with a new name after discovering another band had The Mother Tongues under trademark. Take a gander at the gorgeous video for the equally sublime “When I Think of You” before enjoying the interview with the band. You can catch Amo Amo next Friday and Saturday opening for James at the 9:30 Club.

Q: How would you describe the band in six words or fewer?
A: Psychedelic Love Soul Joy Music

Q: Who picks the music for when the band is on the road? And what's on your playlist(s)?
A: Whoever is inspired to. The playlist is vast and varied...from Bob Marley to Waylon Jennings to Selena to King Sunny Ade to Bjork to Of Montreal to Shuggie Otis to Hailu Mergia to Gabor Szabo to Sly to Jorge Ben to Manu Chao to Rotary Connection...

Q for Shane and Justin: Who are your favorite rhythm sections, and how do they color the grooves you lay down for Amo Amo?
A: To name a few: Carlton and Aston Barrett of the Wailers for their impeccable timeless grooves. Jaki Liebezeit and CAN for their fearless, tranced-out jams, and Bernard Purdie for making it sound and feel fantastic. Tina & Chris Weymouth of the Talking Heads who also honored simplistic approaches with lots of space and push and pull. Tina plays some of the most wobbly, alien-like bass lines with incredible tone and intention.

Q for Omar and Alex: How did Jim James shape the guitar and keyboard sound on the album? Are there any bands or albums that inspire your sound?
A: Jim brought some amps and instruments to the session, but he was pretty hands off and let us do our thing and arrive at our own sounds.
Omar: The guitar solo on "No Woman No Cry" to me is the perfect solo and it influenced my playing very much, both in terms of tone and choice of notes. Also, Curtis Mayfield's wah rhythm guitar playing.
Alex: I’m inspired by the synth sounds on “Ti Amo” by Phoenix, they create that hazy nostalgic vibe that I love! Jim inspired me to follow the tones I'm naturally drawn to on keys (crunchy, smooth, dirty, expansive) and encouraged me to get weird with it too. We had a lot of fun toys to play with.

Q for Love: You previously worked with Shane (also a member of Gardens & Villa) in a project called Págame, and you were a fan of the band he was in with Justin, Omar and Alex. Can you talk about your experience integrating into a band that already had an identity, and how the other members welcomed you into the fold?
A: I was roommates with Shane at one point and we spent a lot of time coming up with songs together so it felt natural. The first time I heard Omar's music I was like "What is this? This is amazing. I want to be in this band."

Q for Omar, Alex, Shane, and Justin: I've heard the story about Love showing up with a python in zir pocket. Was that true? What was your reaction? What kind of new or different energy does ze bring to the group?
It is true! Our reaction was, "We want Love in our band!" Love brings a very strong Divine Feminine energy, a voice that reaches into the farthest corners of the universe, and a creative spirit that elevates this band.

Q for the entire band: What's on the horizon now that the album is out? What are your goals and aspirations for 2019 (and beyond)?
We are on tour with Jim Jamesthis month, which is a dream. We'll be opening for My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks this summer, and also playing some great festivals. We want to write and record our next album and to continue to tour globally, growing our Amo Amo family around the world.