Live From The East Coast, It's Baby Ray!

Baby Ray is a band out of Boston who have recently released one of the freshest rock albums of the past few years in the form of Monkey Puzzle on Thirsty Ear Records. Full of devil-may-care attitude and smart-ass lyrics Baby Ray put some personality back into an otherwise slacking genre of popular music. Highwire Daze: What are your names and what do you do in Baby Ray? Erich Groat: My name is Erich Groat and I play guitar, sing and write songs for Baby Ray. Ken Lafler: My name is Ken Lafler and I play guitar and sing and write other songs for Baby Ray.

HD: Use some words to describe your band and music.

Ken: We won't use any words that begin with "x." Rocking...

Erich: That's a very hard question to answer.

Ken: You know why, it's because we don't say we usually say, well we've got this sound in Baby Ray, let's try to keep writing songs that fit into it. It doesn't really work that way. Eric and I really are fascinated with the whole process of writing songs and playing them. Every step of the way from arranging them to recording them, all that stuff is fascinating to us. What comes out of that is us always wanting to be surprised. I guess melodies and lyrics are pretty important to us. We put a lot of care into that. When we go out and do live shows we want to take people somewhere with us, we want people to have fun, not bore them with seriousness or preach to them. Erich said a cool thing to me last week. We were talking about the difficulty we've both been having lately of finding stuff we really want to listen to. Which is kind of why we started Baby Ray, because we weren't turned on by what we were listening to and we decided to make music we wanted to listen to. Eric said to me ‘music should blow you away.' If it doesn't blow you away then what's the point of listening to it? I've been trying to think about that for the whole week.

HD: What is the artwork on the CD?

Ken: Nathan, our drummer, did the design for the CD. He had these images sitting around just a piece of paper and a notebook. He came up with the design with a blue monkey and a pile of shaving cream. Nathan is very good.

HD: Chris Carter on Y107 played one of your songs, the radio edit of it.

Ken and Erich: We caved in and redid that song. It's actually a better mix, there was an upside to that. We depend on the kindness of strangers to play our music. Our label can't go out and buy time on commercial stations and put a lot of money into promotion. We put the record out and hope that people have open ears, hear it, like it and play it. It's a grassroots thing at this point.

HD: Who is your hero?

Erich: I'll answer that first. There are two parts to that question. One, is: the other musicians that I've worked with. Especially the people in the band. We kind of consider ourselves each other's biggest influence. Some of my greatest heros are just the other people in the band. So that's part one of the answer. The other part of the answer is Guided By Voices. I think they are the most inspirational band out there for me. Their song writing is just remarkable. They've found ways to persevere and to keep making songs. Bob Hallard writes the best songs I've ever heard in my life and has been able to present them and keep making them in such a wide variety of circumstances. His sense of what's absolutely appropriate to the moment to get a song across is really remarkable to me. I'd say he's one of my biggest heros.

Ken: I think Erich's answer is pretty good. I'm inspired the most from the other band members.

HD: What is your favorite musical memory?

Erich: The first record I ever bought was Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder in 1973 or earlier, I was very young. Sir Duke was a big radio hit at the time. The second thing I bought, several years later, was I Just Want to be Your Everything by Andy Gibb. About three years later I took that single and some other records and turned them into frisbees and heaved them down the street. I remember when I was five my cousin lent my brother a guitar and I started messing around with it in the basement, made up this little thing, it was a G chord and sort of found that I could move my finger up and down the string and change the chord. I wrote a song and from then on I wanted to be a musician.

Ken: Listening to my mother play Bartok was a big musical thing for me. I'm not going to tell you what my first record was. My second record was Tommy by The Who. I got into Prog rock during high school but ended up dumping that.

HD: What is your biggest accomplishment so far?

Erich: We just made a great record. I've made some good friends and good music. We want to make music that lasts.

Ken: We're pretty proud of it.

HD: What would you like to accomplish in the future?

Erich and Ken: Owning a Lear jet. Flying a Lear jet around the world. Each owning one that would reflect our personalities. A serious goal would just be to make more records.

Baby Ray is rounded out by the rhythm section of Nathan Logus on drums and graphic designing and Paul Simonoff on bass. The album is Monkey Puzzle and its unlike anything you'll likely hear all year. And that's a good thing because they have personality and they rock!


Main Page: Read more of Bret's Ramblings
Baby Ray's Web Page: Find out more about this great band from Boston.

This page has been visited times.