Back in June 2014, I chatted with a young lady, Amy Allen by name, who was putting together a new band and heading in a new musical direction. Allen had a successful solo career with three EPs and a couple of awards under her belt when the decision to get together a group of like-minded musician friends became Amy & The Engine. She ended up playing at the Waterfront Concert Series in Gardiner the following month. Well, the Berklee graduate and current Boston resident recently talked with me about what’s happened since our last conversation.

Q: Well, I’ve been enjoying the six-song album you have on your website “TandeMania.” Is this your first record?

Allen: As Amy & The Engine, yeah, it’s our first one.

Q: When did it come out?

Allen: We released the whole record last November, but we released the first single in February of 2015.

Q: Are you working on anything new?

Allen: Yeah, we’re right in the middle of our first full-length record right now, which I’m really excited about. It’s the most excited I’ve been about any music I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to get it out.

Q: So, how far along in the process are you?

Allen: I’d say I’m about a third of the way through. We’re working with a mixing engineer in Los Angeles who’s mixed some of my favorite records of all time, so I was honored and really excited when he agreed to take on the project. He was really excited about it, which made me feel really good about it, too. So, he’s mixing the second song right now and there’s going to be about nine songs, I’m guessing eight or nine. We’re in the beginning phases of that, but we have about four songs 90 percent done, so we have about five more to go, I would say. But it’s going really well. We always record the basics, like drums and bass, in Windham, Maine, at this place called The Halo with my friend John Wyman. He’s recorded me since I was 17 years old, so it’s really fun to get to work with him and to get to be home in Maine recording. I really love doing that. So, we usually do the basics there and then we kind of bounce between home studios in Boston and Brooklyn record the rest of it. So, that’s what we’ve been up to, and of course we’ve been playing a ton of shows all the time which is good, too, so we’ve been very busy.

Q: Well, that keeps your chops well-honed.

Allen: Yeah, definitely, definitely!

Q: Now about your band, The Engine, are there three members or five? I’ve seen pictures of both configurations on your website.

Allen: So, the three core members of The Engine that have been in it from day-one are myself, Manuel Ruiz, he’s the drummer and he’s from Lima, Peru, but we met at school in Boston. And then the third member is Vinny Da Silva and he’s from Brazil and is the lead guitarist. We have other members. We have a bass player and a utility player that plays keys and electric guitar and sings, but those two people alternate a little bit. So, really the band proper is the three of us, and then when we play live shows, we’ll have two other members on stage with us.

Q: So, that would mean that when you hit Waterville you’ll have those other two members with you?

Allen: Yeah, we’ll be a full band when we play there; there will be five pieces. The bass player will be Steve Bunce, and I’m not completely sure who is going to be confirmed as the other player at this time, though.

Q: Have you ever played in Waterville before?

Allen: Not that I can remember, so I think that this will be our first time.

Q: Now, is what we hear on “TandeMania” pretty representative of what your band sounds like live?

Allen: Umm, that’s a good question. I think what is on the record isn’t quite as rock as we are live. My biggest influences growing up was my dad playing music for me in the car on the way home from ballet and figure skating. He played a lot of Rolling Stones and David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen. The Pretenders were a huge one for me. So, it was a lot of classic rock and those influences come out more live then they do in that first record “TandeMania” that’s out. But this second record I’ve worked really hard to let those classic rock influences kind of come through the recording more. So, the new record is going to be much more representational of what we sound like live. It’s going to be a little bit heavier and rockier than “TandeMania.” But all of that being said, all the songs on “TandeMania” we do play live and we play them pretty close to how you hear them now, but just a little more classic rock than those album tracks are, not quite as studio pop.

Q: Well, one of the things I enjoyed about your latest album was that girl-group sound that came through loud and clear. It was a refreshing kind of blast-from-the-past, if you will.

Allen: Oh, thank you! I’m so glad that you could hear those influences in there. I fell in love with the Supremes and Dionne Warwick when I was so young. Those are the records that I always go back to when I’m in a rut with writing or lyrics in general. I’ve always relied on those types of melodies and harmonies in my songs, so I’m glad that you could pick up on those.

Q: Is there anything, Amy, seeing this is the first time you’ve performed in Waterville, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article?

Allen: I think it’s always nice to, when I’m playing Maine shows, let the audience know that I’m originally from Windham, Maine. That’s where I grew up. I would also like them to know that we’ll be releasing a new record in early 2017. Oh, and that all of our music can be found on Spotify, iTunes and Youtube. We’re pretty much available on all of those platforms if they want to find it. (www.amyandtheengine.com)

Lucky Clark has spent 47 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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