“Easily Amused” is almost famous

Audrey Gilliam

“Wouldn’t it be funny if . . .” From posing questions of hypothetical hilarity to playing benefit shows in Staten Island, Easily Amused has made monumental progress in the past three years. Motivated by Villanova sophomore Ryan Maxwell, Easily Amused was formed rather spontaneously in Maxwell’s hometown of Ridgewood, N.J.

“My girlfriend needed a band for her little sister’s birthday party, so I told her that I would find a few guys, throw a band together, and we’d play,” Maxwell explained. “Our first show was in my girlfriend’s backyard and we played for an audience of about 100 13-year-olds. The kids had a great time and so did we, so we took it from there.”

After their first performance, band members Rory Phalen, Greg “G” Frey, Kevin Laibson and Maxwell began playing together regularly and working on their first CD, “Not Funny.” Although the band was well-versed in cover songs (they had learned everything from Britney Spears to Bon Jovi to the Spice Girls for their debut performance), they worked on several original compositions for their first recorded effort.

“We started out sitting around, playing together and experimenting with ideas that we thought were amusing,” Maxwell said. “In the first week of rehearsing, we were able to write seven songs, just from asking each other ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if . . .?'”

In 1999, Easily Amused moved out of the suburban backyards and into the big city, winning a Battle of the Bands at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Easily Amused was rewarded 26 studio recording hours for this success, and was able to record four songs. Soon after this, however, drummer Rob Phalen left the band due to conflicting styles.

With new drummer Joe Burch, Easily Amused began work on a new album, “The Easily Amused LP.” The CD includes four original songs: “Sugarglass,” “Nothing to Lose,” “You Want Me or You Don’t (Postcard),” and “Nail Her Down.” Maxwell describes the creation of this CD as a group effort; all four members of the band wrote lyrics and the music was decided upon by the band collectively.

“With ‘Celebrity Girlfriend,’ for example, I wrote the music, Kevin wrote the lyrics and Greg composed the great jam session in the middle of the song,” Maxwell explained. “Celebrity Girlfriend,” in fact, has received an enthusiastic response from fans and according to Maxwell, it is a crowd favorite. “It’s a really fun song and the jam session and the beatbox are crazy – everyone can go wild when they hear it,” sophomore Victoria Marini stated.

With one CD released and an impressive schedule of upcoming shows, Easily Amused is anxiously looking towards the future. With the band members living in different cities, however, it has been difficult to fully focus on what lies ahead. “The other members of the band live in New Jersey still,” Maxwell explained. “It’s hard because they have to drive down all of the time to play shows, so we are waiting until the band is all together to really start pushing playing.”

In the meantime, Easily Amused is playing as many shows as possible and trying to get their name and their music out to the public.

“Right now, we just want to play a lot and see where this goes,” Maxwell explained. “We’ve been sending our demo out to bars and clubs, playing shows and building our reputation up.” The band has played at several local venues ranging from P.J. Henry’s to Bootlegger Bucks and has also appeared at a few more atypical locations including a cancer benefit in Staten Island, a lesbian wedding in Maine and a show in California.

Easily Amused currently has a contract under review; however,

the band is waiting to see “what develops and who approaches us. We are waiting until someone experienced in the business comes along,” Maxwell explained. As long as Easily Amused continues to play, fans have no objections to their current laid back approach. Sophomore Lynda Keorlet, who attended a show at Bootlegger Bucks, described the fan response to the band: “It was a mixed crowd – on one hand, you have a local old guy in a black and white plaid shirt, and on the other hand, you’ve got some wild Villanova students, but we all had a great time – everyone was able to enjoy the music.” The band will be playing on April 12th in the Connelly Center and on April 16th at Bootlegger Bucks.