The return of Simon Doom
Don’t call it a comeback. Simon O’Connor aka Simon Doom has been here for years. But with the release of his album, Babyman, he’s ready for whatever the music business has to throw at him and to reclaim what should have been several years ago.
“I’ll put it this way, I won’t feel like I’m fooling anyone,” he said. “The first time, and I think this is a common thing for anyone who achieves success, you think, ‘Oh, I just bulls**tted everybody. (Laughs) They don’t really know that I’m not really the guy they think I am. I just got lucky and they confused me with somebody else. That’s how I felt the first time, but now I won’t be as scared. I’ll definitely feel like I earned it. I don’t think I deserve it more than anyone else, but if it happens, I feel like I know how to use it well.”
O’Connor has paid his dues for a long time on the New York music scene, but it was his band Amazing Baby that was going to take over the world in 2009. They were the next big thing.
Until they weren’t.
“We got everything you’re supposed to get,” O’Connor said. “We got the big deal and people were telling us we were going to be a big thing, and it didn’t happen for a number of reasons, but very suddenly and upsettingly.”
Not getting to the heights predicted for them hit O’Connor hard, and he took it personally.
“I’m now realizing that experience gave me a little bit of PTSD because that was the last time I had written songs and was the face of the band,” he said. “I still wasn’t singing, but it was kind of like, ‘This is your band,’ and it was so f**ked up that it took me a while to gain that confidence back to do it again. You were placed in front of the world and you kind of failed and everyone saw it happen. So it’s hard to get up and go back.”
O’Connor didn’t disappear, but he was content collaborating and working on other projects that didn’t have him in the frontman role. And that was fine.
Until it wasn’t.
“It was a lot more comfortable trying to write songs for other people and collaborate on other projects and things like that because if they don’t work out, I’m not the one in the spotlight,” he said. “I can always say, ‘Hey, it’s not my fault.’ (Laughs) As time went on, it became really clear that I just wasn’t satisfied with anything I was doing. This is what I actually wanted to do. So I was right the whole time. I assumed that because it didn’t work out the first time that I had made a mistake and that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. But I think I was right when I was a kid and I am right now.”
He is. Babyman delivers on all counts — from hooks to performances — and as he approaches tonight’s record release show at Union Pool in Brooklyn, there is a sense that O’Connor is finally where he belongs. But while the past is the past, what does he remember about those crazy days of 2008–09?
“There were a few people who were left in the music industry who didn’t realize what was actually going on,” he said. “Not only are we not going to sell a million records, but pretty much no one was. And I think that was pretty harsh. I am pretty hard on myself, and I think that’s part of the reason why I gave myself some more time to sit back, learn and be ready. A lot of the problem with Amazing Baby was that we were getting a lot of attention. Our fifth show ever was in England and we got a record deal when we only had six songs written. Back then, I assumed that was just the way it happens.”
That’s the way it used to happen, and it happened for bands like The Strokes in NYC, but by the time Amazing Baby came around, it was like the Stock Market crash of 1929 in the music business.
“By the time it was my turn, in 2008, 2009, you not only had an overall financial crash, but the internet was completely unstoppable,” O’Connor said. “You couldn’t fight it, and people were getting used to streaming music and that’s the way they wanted to hear it, so records just weren’t selling.”
Nearly a decade later though, O’Connor is back and ready to take it all on again. And he’s got the music and determination to do it, even if it is a strange new world.
“I think somebody who is better at social media has more of a chance of having a hit record than somebody who’s actually really good at writing songs right now,” he said. “That’s a bummer, but I’m trying to find a middle ground. I just wanted to get the record out and build from that and so far, so good.”
Simon Doom plays Union Pool in Brooklyn, tonight, July 14. For tickets, click here
For more information on Simon Doom, click here