Interview: Omar Velasco
Having your new band’s first album produced by Jim James is a big deal. Being tapped to then open for the My Morning Jacket frontman on a national tour? That might be even more impressive.
LA psych pop band Amo Amo has checked both boxes, and the five-piece of Omar Velasco (guitar/lead vocals), Lovelle Femme (lead vocals/guitar), Alex Siegel (keys/vocals), Justin Flint (drums/vocals), and Shane Mckillop (bass/vocals) rides that musical high to a sold out show at The Orange Peel on Friday, May 3.
Asheville Stages recently caught up with Velasco (back right in the above photo) to chat about his band’s whirlwind recent activities and how they plan to keep the momentum going.
Edwin Arnaudin: What’s your history with Asheville?
Omar Velasco: Asheville is a fantastic and beautiful city. I've spent a little time there and even considered moving there at one point. We are very excited to come play for Asheville.
EA: What individual musical experience did you and your bandmates have prior to forming Amo Amo?
OV: Everyone in the group has played, written, and produced music for many years in different forms, and prior to Amo Amo, we've toured around quite a bit separately as part of acts such as Jonathan Wilson and Gardens and Villa.
EA: How did you connect with Jim James?
OV: I used to throw jam parties at my house in LA. Jim came to one of those and we became friends. He started coming to our shows and I asked if he'd like to produce our record. He said, “Yes!”
EA: Did you consider going to Louisville to record at Jim’s go-to La La Land Studios — or was there something about staying closer to your La La Land that felt imperative to crafting these songs?
OV: We actually mixed the record with Kevin Ratterman at his Louisville La La Land. What an incredible studio that is! But for the record itself, we set up in an old 1850s country house in California's central coast, about three hours north of L.A. So, we sort of created our own La La Land.
EA: What standout advice, guidance, and other contributions did Jim bring to the recording sessions?
OV: Jim was great at gently steering us without being too heavy-handed. We performed the songs in a very spontaneous and free way, and then he would help guide the song into it's current form, always being true to the heart of the song.
EA: What do you think it’ll be like warming up the crowd for your friend and producer each night on this current circuit?
OV: This will be great. It'll be a reunion of sorts. We can't wait to warm the crowd up for Jim and his boys. We are all great friends, so it'll be a lot of fun.
EA: Congratulations on getting to play Red Rocks later this year! In what ways do you anticipate that show will be different from ones at the more modestly-sized indoor venues you’re currently playing?
OV: Thank you! We're thrilled about it. We see it as something that will be a milestone for us and something we'll remember forever. It's tough to really know what to expect in those types of larger-than-life experiences, so we'll approach it as openly as we can and try to really savor it.
EA: What are the band’s hopes/dreams/goals for the rest of 2019?
OV: We'd love to continue to play shows here in the US as well as abroad. Playing live really is the heart and soul of this band. We're also planning on making a new record this year. We want to just keep spreading the Amo Amo love.
(Photo by Robbie Jeffers)