trb CD Review
By Gary Hizer
Urban Tulsa, Tulsa, OK 11/17/04
– I’ve been privy to this CD for little while now, having the benefit
of hearing the advance promo that the band got out prior to release.
I’ve tried repeatedly to write a proper review to no avail--it always
comes out too wordy, too gushing, too much like I’m trying to kiss up
for some reward.
short and skinny of the matter is this--this is a great disc no matter
how you look at it. If you’re already a Tony Romanello fan, this will
be a must have. If Tony’s previous work never really did it for you,
but you’re a rock fan, you need to check this one out anyway. This being
the first full-length release as a band explains a lot in the transition.
As bandleader Tony Romanello told UTW back in June, “This is a band
in the true sense of the word. Everyone comes to the table with their
25% and their input as to what we’re doing now.”
some situations that could be a bad thing, but instead of pulling the
band in different directions, it has resulted in a surprisingly focused
opener “Ring and Remind” should take most listeners off guard the first
time they hear it, beginning with a sampled drum loop and stuttering
guitar riff that pans across your stereo from left to right before launching
out of the gate. I could walk you through the disc song by song, but
I’ll leave that for you to experience and pick your own favorites.
own personal picks still hold up as the previously referenced opener
“R & R”, along with “Atlas” and “Ballad of the Escape Plan”. On “Ballad…”,
the band appeals to my Midwestern upbringing with a story that I’d best
describe as a modern rock take on one of Springsteen’s flawed characters
from Nebraska. Immediately, the band draws me in and I’m tearing down
the highway with the top down “riding shotgun in the dark, holding hands
across the wheel of the getaway car.”
Edge (Z104.5) has already been playing “Better Days” on the Homegroan
show on Sunday nights, and the station just recently added it to the
afternoon playlist. Outside of the Tulsa area, I would expect this album
to take flight at college radio first, and make a compelling argument
for mainstream airplay.
is the key to this album, in almost every aspect. The rhythm section
of Josiah Borgos on drums and Paul Christiano on bass is incredibly
tight and propels the band through the proceedings as a finely tuned
machine. Likewise, Tony and Andy Callis mesh well, whether building
a wall of guitars together, or with Andy laying in the chiming nuance
behind Tony’s power chords.
the song structures themselves have tightened up, with only a couple
of cuts stretching out past the four minute mark, both of which round
out the album and close it sounding like “classic Tony”. Even still,
their epic and dreamy sweep are reined into focus better than ever before.
must be doled out to producer Brad Mitcho and mixer Wayne Morgan. Not
only have they drawn out some of Tony’s best sounding vocals to date,
the sound and mix on the disc are outstanding all around. This isn’t
something I normally focus on, but I’m still amazed at the sound quality
and mix in general here. TRB raises the bar on what we can and will
expect from local and independently produced discs in the future.
band has decided to release this one itself and have secured a regional
distribution deal that will put the disc in retail stores like Best
Buy and Circuit City, chain music stores like Sam Goody and FYE, and
independent record stores throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas.
it won’t be stocked at Target and Wal-Mart stores, but it went into
widespread release as of November 9. It doesn’t matter where you go--just
go get it!
It All On The Line
By Matt Gleason
Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 11/12/04
the more than three months it took to complete TRB’s latest self-titled
disc, the local rock outfit conceived a dizzying stream of musical ideas.
Sometimes, those ideas stumbled from the gray matter of all those creatively
involved and tangled themselves up in a tight ball. From there, the
band and Brad Mitcho, the self-described anal-retentive producer who
has been called TRB’s fifth member, could either slowly untangle the
ideas, or just pitch the mess into the trash. Along the way, there were
what Tony Romanello, the band’s guitarist, singer and lyricist, called
civil disagreements. But, gosh, how could they not battle over each
of the disc’s 11 tracks? So much is riding on this galloping horse of
a project — including several thousand dollars of their own money. And,
lord knows, all parties involved hope it’s a winner.
formerly known as the Tony Romanello Band, is one of the preeminent
acts on the local music scene. It’s a perennial Spot Music Award-winner,
and its 2003 EP yielded a relatively successful single, “Where Are You
Tonight?,” which got play on the local rock station KMYZ, 104.5 FM “The
Edge.” Local fame is rewarding, but it seems the band wants so much
for itself and this precious album.
said he went into the sessions aiming to come out with a disc that’s
both “commercially viable” but still has an “artistic side to it.” That’s
a noble mission in a music business primarily focused on the former,
and myopic on the latter. The elaborately-produced disc, which was mixed
by Wayne Morgan, culls inspiration from an array of influences, most
notably the Smashing Pumpkins, Catherine Wheel and My Bloody Valentine.
Everything on it sounds grand, like an imposing monument built by humble
architects in tribute to the gods of rock. And making things grand is
what rock is all about, right? Mitcho agreed. “Rock ’n’ roll, let’s
face it, is a comic book. It’s all rock ’n’ roll super heroes and stuff,
like KISS with the makeup. It’s got to be over the top or it’s boring.”
achieve the disc’s whopping guitar sound, Mitcho and the band actually
had to prune down the flood of guitar tracks on some tunes. “One of
the things that Tony and I talked about at the beginning of the record,”
Mitcho said, “was making each individual instrument sound larger, rather
than making it sound like there are more instruments.” Aiding that fuller
rock sound was what Mitcho called “the magical Bogner amp.” “That was
the saving grace of the album,” Mitcho said. “It ended up on every frickin’
song, we loved it so much. “It was one of those things where Tony was
so dead-set on staying out of the norm. He’s like, ‘We can’t use a Marshall
amp. Everyone uses a Marshall amp. Let’s use something else.’ ”
The way drummer Josiah Borgos approached his contributions to the disc
is a telling indication of how the rest of the band approached their
parts. “Everything that we did in the studio, you could tell that there
was something unique going into it from everyone’s perspective,” he
said. “My perspective was I wanted to stretch myself creatively and
technically . . . I wanted it to be big and monstrous. I wanted to be
able to move myself in a direction that I hadn’t gone before. “My first
goal was to make the drums unique and special on its own,” he continued.
“If you literally took the music away, the drums by themselves would
Paul Cristiano, a veteran of the local scene who is a relatively new
addition to the band, summed up all the performances as simply “inspired.”
Guitarist Andy Callis, who started playing acoustic shows with Romanello
back in 2000, said this disc is the culmination of years of toil and
musical evolution. The first track, “Ring and Remind,” is like the band
firing a flare gun into the night sky for all to see. Romanello said,
“We put it as the opening track because people would definitely say,
‘Well, that’s TRB, but it’s new and it’s different.’” The song begins
with a distorted, buffeting drum intro that starts in your left ear
and slides over to the right ear, before the full song detonates. The
tune comes complete with the Cristiano-devised “repetitive bass line,
and super heavy groove,” plus Romanello’s aggressive vocals advising:
“Face the chimes — the tunes that rage and disguise/Cup of lies — swallow
it down now every time.” Mitcho remembers Cristiano taking the elaborate
track very seriously, especially given that he — not the usual mastermind,
Romanello — wrote the main part of the song. “Paul is actually the only
person who is probably as anal retentive as I am,” Mitcho said. “The
bass line is so brutal that he came in and was like, ‘I can do better
than that. I can do better than that. I’m doing that again!’ And he
the making of the album, some tunes became favorites while others had
less of a corona around them. One song, “No Regrets,” was the golden
child the band hyped the most, but ultimately Mitcho said it couldn’t
help but fall short. “This is one we all thought was going to be like
the song on the record,” he said. “I don’t know if it became that or
not. I still enjoy the song, but everyone had such high expectations
for this song that you can only be letdown.” “Better Days” wasn’t by
any means a disappointment. It’s a hard rocker, which Romanello said
addresses how some local musicians’ sole mission is leaving behind Tulsa
for a hotter music scene, but soon realize music scenes are basically
the same anywhere you go.
most of the disc is a testament to TRB as a solid unit, its leader goes
solo on “Modern Myth.” The track is a stunning, stripped-down ballad.
Romanello’s voice is soft and vulnerable as he lays bare his emotions
while picking out a simple guitar melody. The song has an expansive
sound, as if he were playing it alone in a spacious concert hall. Romanello
remembered Mitcho’s advice on how to approach the song’s sublime vocals.
“Brad was like, ‘Man, on the quiet parts, keep them quiet,’" Romanello
recalled. “ ‘Take this as an opportunity not only for the listener to
relax and not hear rock songs the whole album, but a chance for you
to sing and not have to yell, scream or strain the harmony.’”
“Modern Myth” is a breather for the listener, “Claustrophobic” is a
two-minute-12-second, Foo Fighters-like assault with zaps of slide guitar,
in which the protagonist’s frantic mania spills over as he declares,
“I’m unhinged!” Mitcho said the tune wasn’t an obvious choice for the
record. “When we had our initial meetings, I was the only guy who wanted
this on the record,” he said. “I understand why they didn’t want it
on the record. “I love that at the meeting Andy was like, ‘It’s not
even like a song. It’s a riff with Tony talking over it.’ And I was
like, ‘Exactly.’ ” On the track, Romanello spits some of his lyrics
over a telephone that was stationed in the vocal booth. Some of the
throwaway tracks of Romanello speaking, especially the first line of
the song, were “hilarious,” Mitcho said. “What’s so great about this
is that I had all these tracks where I had Tony just say the verses
with different inflections,” Mitcho said, “like (sounding like a grandstanding,
blowhard politician) ‘The last straw is the shortest!’ ”
to say, the final Billy Corgan-like scream, “Wide Awake!” on “The Lull”
wasn’t funny. It was more of a throbbing headache, Mitcho said. “For
some reason he couldn’t hit that scream,” Mitcho said. “Honestly, there
was a point where I thought, ‘You’re going to have to write a new ending
to the song because you just can’t do it.’ “The day he finally got it
he was like, ‘Yes, I got it!’ ”
The final song on the disc, “Evensong” is a nod to My Bloody Valentine
and is unlike anything else on the disc. It concludes with a comforting
message of: “Angels are here . . . Say goodbye to all the tears you’ve
cried/They remind you of the past . . . Lay down your fears, don’t be
afraid.” Cristiano could use a bit of comforting himself if the disc
isn’t as successful as everyone hopes. He admitted that after everything
the band has put into the disc, he couldn’t see recording another one
at this level. “My feeling is that we are not going to go down this
road again,” he said. “We can’t. This is our shot right here. I don’t
know if we’re going to make another local record again. We put everything
into this record.”
Romanello wasn’t sure about Cristiano’s end-of-the-road scenario. “I’d
have to say ‘never say never,’ ” Romanello said. “I know that the band
has a lot riding on this, and no one really knows whether or not we
might ever be in this situation again. “We’re putting all our cards
on the table with this one, thats for sure though."
Rock Apostles - TRB returns from sabbatical to preach its good news
By Gary Hizer
Urban Tulsa, Tulsa, OK 6/04
things first: Tony Romanello wants to make something perfectly clear
from the get-go: “This is a band in the true sense of the word. Everyone
comes to the table with their 25% and their input as to what we’re doing
maybe this would be a good time to back up a little. We all remember
Tony Romanello, right? Yea, it’s been a while since you have heard from
him. But he’s back, ready to take his music to the next level.
band has been in what Tony referred to as a “hibernation period”. Perhaps
sabbatical may be a more appropriate term, as the band has gone through
a growth or evolution and has been far from sleeping, but instead working
behind the scenes and out of the public eye. TRB is about to re-emerge,
“Re-immerse ourselves in the scene and reconnect,” Tony says. Surely
this is good news to the devoted fans that consider the band to be the
crown jewel of the Tulsa music scene.
Course: In 2000, he released an album titled The Mumbleodd under his
own name, out of the dissolution of his college band, Murmur. While
turning plenty of ears, he quickly followed with Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo.
Spawned from doing acoustic shows with old friend and guitarist Andy
Callis, the Tony Romanello Band formed out of a need to support his
solo discs and released the Shades of Grey EP in 2001 – an epic sweep
of modern rock. This was followed by Counting Stars, a solo disc that
was actually started before the “Shades” EP and kept developing. Although
a local buzz had been building, Counting Stars was a coming out party
for Tony as a solo artist, exposing his artsy, Brian Wilson side. Nearly
every local award that could be voted on – best album, rock band, and
overall artist followed.
the cycle supporting Counting Stars wound down, TRB found itself facing
a turning point. Last summer’s EP, Where are You Tonight, signaled that
corner, garnering plenty of radio airplay. Following an arguably successful
summer last year, though, the band has made itself scarce, seemingly
disappearing from view. If Where Are You Tonight marked what Romanello
refers to as “a definitive moment for us a band”, its recording was
merely the first in a series of events that would shape what the band
has become. In the first half of 2003, after recording the EP, bass
player Brad Hall left the band for personal reasons. After working with
a few different people, Paul Cristiano stepped in. Cristiano, himself
a veteran of Jenny Labow’s band and pop/rock powerhouse Royal Crush,
is unanimously considered a true asset among the band members. As the
others tell it, when Royal Crush was dissolving “Paul was looking for
a better situation, and we needed someone to help us live up to ours”
Consensus amongst the other members is that Paul “whipped the band into
shape”, but he doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “I was able to bring
an outside perspective and offer an honest opinion – as a spectator
and a fan.” This outside perspective helped the band look inward on
itself, with input and a perspective that many bands don’t get to experience.
“This band already had good idea(s), as far as its direction and songwriting.
I was just a piece of the puzzle.” The infusion of fresh blood into
the band was revitalizing. As drummer Josiah Borgos shared, shortly
after Paul’s first gig with the band they began the writing process
and produced 3 new songs in a short period of time. Cristiano’s addition
saw the band’s focus and attention to detail grow- both in their playing/rehearsing
and their songwriting.
songwriting – that which can be the difficult part, but ultimately defines
a band or artist. According to Paul, the songwriting process is truly
a band effort, with everyone staying objective and checking egos at
the door. Of course, you’d expect this to be a transition for Tony,
having done the majority of his previous work and writing himself, but
it hasn’t posed any problems. Cristiano is quick to praise Romanello
for his willingness to let go: “To consent and put that aside . . .
has been a big step in the evolution of the group.” As he sees it, that’s
one of the things that sets them apart, expressing that “the songwriting
in this band is on a different level than what I’ve experienced previously.”
Stage: Fear not TRB faithful, for all that writing has been put to good
use, as the band has been busy in the studio recording a new album.
Sessions commenced in early April at Glass House studios, with recording
just recently completed. According to the band, a title and firm release
date have not yet been set, as they’ve been focusing on recording, mixing,
and continually rehearsing. With additional mixing, mastering, packaging
and production work left to be done, the band still plans to stay on
schedule and have the disc out by the end of summer. When prodded as
to what to expect from the new album, ”focus” is the recurring theme
in their descriptions. As the band refers to a refining or re-defining
of the TRB sound, Josiah says the new material is “more direct, focused,
and cohesive”. “Listen to the EP: take the short, three-minute song
structures and straight forward rock’n’roll format and multiply it by
11,” he continues If you liked the EP, he claims that the new release
will be “10 times better, more focused, louder, and heavier”. It promises
to be a real rock’n’roll record with a couple of ballads. Modern rock
with big guitars and big hooks. Indeed, those who ventured out to catch
TRB at Mayfest this year heard a set loaded with new material and got
a good idea of what to expect, previewing new songs like “Ballad of
the Escape Plan”, “She Knows”, and “No Regrets”. The performance itself
was a good indicator of the band’s focus during its “down time”. Concerted
efforts on rehearsing and creating a more cohesive band sound were rewarded
with the band sounding tighter and more in sync – a progression I’ve
heard in them over the course of the last year. In the past, Tony admits,
“we liked to ‘rough it up’ and just go out and kick ass.” but their
new approach has polished some of the edges. The band’s new focus hasn’t
taken the rock out of rock’n’roll, but sees them more concise – not
veering off into “jam-land” or trying to overpower the audience with
extended solos, instead functioning as a smooth, cohesive unit.
the band feels that the events of the last year: from the EP release,
to the addition of Paul, to radio exposure, rehearsals, and recording
have helped TRB evolve into a band on the verge of something big. Using
what they learned from those experiences, and building upon a recently
refreshed work ethic, TRB is ready to take it all to a new level. As
the release of the new CD draws closer, the band looks to parlay what
they’ve learned over the last year into bigger and better things. A
part of the re-immersion that Tony referred to includes playing as much
as possible, both locally and regionally, and extending their reach
even further. The guys aren’t afraid to think big either – willing and
ready to take on all comers and looking to break into the radio festivals
and showcases like SXSW. Even Andy pipes up: “Saturday Night Live! We’ll
get to play two songs (and meet Tina Fey)…”
releasing the disc independently, the band is planning on working it
like a major release, first focusing on college and mainstream radio
along with live shows to develop their regional following. They want
it to be obvious that this is an independent release, but for all the
right reasons, as they keep a hands-on approach to working it at radio.
is ready to take its message and music to the masses. As Tony puts it:
“We want to get as many people as possible to convert to the ‘Church
of TRB’, in any way possible.” Preach on, Brother Romanello . . .
By Hilton Price
GTR Boundary, Tulsa, OK 6/04
TRB is ready for the next step. The band, once a solo project for Tony
Romanello, has spent the last year building on the sucess of its EP
"Where are You Tonite"? and several local awards. Now, returning
to the studio to follow up the EP, the band is calm and focused, and
rady to look beyond Tulsa for its successes.
TRB, as it has begun to call itself after the release of the "Where
are You Tonite"? EP, is a four piece rock band featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist
Tony Romanello, guitarist Andy Callis, bassist Paul Cristiano, and drummer
Josiah Borgos. Their sound incorporates a variety of rock and pop sensibilities,
but th eband members see themselves and their defining sound as "straight
up rock," especially on the new album. The band is recording at
Glasshouse Studios, the same studio responsible for last year's EP.
Romanello and Callis are long-time Tulsans, and Romanello has plaed
the local music scene since he was 13. A graduate of Bishop Kelley High
School, Romanello was active both in his own projects and sitting in
with other bands. He was a fan of the local music scene growing up,
and took inspiration from watching past local successes work their way
onto the national scene.
of the band's goals, part of a plan they've developed to pish theur
music into the national media, is a short production schedule for the
new album. The band opted to set a strict time limit on their recording,
instead of dragging the process out over many months.
thinks putting these tight constraints on the album has had a positive
effect on the band. Romanello comments, "I think it's going to
make us more focused, I've been really impressed with what what we've
done so far. The preparation was key, I think."
of that preparation was working out the song structures before the band
hit the studio. It also meant getting producer Brad Mitcho involved
from early on.
thing is, Brad, the producer, was in on it from the very beginning."
Cristiano says. "We started working on songs months ago, and even
before he had the demos, he knew he wanted to be a part of it, and he
had heard some songs and stuff live that he liked, and we just started
working out arrangements. It's been well thought out."
Cristiano, the newest member of the group, preparation is very important.
Likewise, hard work and dedication are the ideasl the bassist identifies
strongly with, and these ideals are necessary in finishing this new
now it's just getting in there and doing it," he says. "We
know what we are doing and it's just a matter of getting in to the studio
and getting it done."
sound of this new record will follow the rock feel of the EP, instead
of the complex instrumentation Romanello used on his last full length,
going to be straight up rock," he says. "It's going to be
in the same vein as the EP where these are songs we've been playing
live for a while, and they're things we want to reproduce that way and
sound pretty true to form. I think that was one of the follies with
"Counting Stars," with all the strings and horns, we couldn't
reproduce it live real well."
album, the subsequent EP, and the band's live show wont them several
awards in Tulsa. Although gracious for the accolades, the band takes
the honors with quiet humility.
tend to not think abou the success too much." Cristiano says. "It's
nice, but we have a lot of wrk to do. It's nice to be recorgnized, but
at the same time I try to have blinders on."
Borgos, it's simply an affirmation. "To me, it's just a strong
confirmation that we're going in the right direction," he says.
these pleasant honors, Cristiano is quick to point out that as a band
trying to make it on the national level, the competition isn't the bands
they beat out for local awards, it's the bands on the radio.
you've been doing this a while, you realize the competition isn't here,
the competition is the band on the radio," he notes. "If you
want to be on a higher level, look at the guys that are there; that's
doesn't mean that Cristiano or his band mates like everything they hear
on the airwaves. Instead, they look at what each individual acut is
doing right, and learn from that.
you like the bands on the radio or not, they are doing something very
well," he says. "They're operating on a higher plane, they're
not operating on a local level, because they did something better than
everyone else. I think those bands did something right along the way,
and it's wrong to ignore that."
echoes this sentiment. "What we respect more than everything is
that we realize the work ethic, and the level they're at is what we
recording process takes them off the road for a few months, but they
will return to active gigs soon and will have scattered shows throughout
the recording process.
Review - Counting Stars
By Jonathan Wright
Skyscraper Magazine, Denver, CO 8/03
Just as its press sheet declares, Counting Stars was Tony Romanello's
Golden opportunity to indulge in his Brian Wilson/Phil Spector urges,
and the Tulsa native leaves no resource untapped in following such passions.
The album is an extraordinarily indulgent affair, a grand statement
of unmitigated pop ambition teeming with a kaleidescope of string and
horn sections, and, predictably, not a whit of subtlety. From the first
track to the last, it soaks in this relentlessly carnival-like atmosphere,
its songs' lush, baroque arrangements manhandling the more delicate
melodies beneath. Stylistically, it recalls Jeremy Enigk's brilliant
Return of the Frog Queen, but where that album was balanced and cohesive,
eah song flowing into the next, steadily building to a fabulous crescendo
at the end of its tightly-packed half-hour, Counting Stars often
seems like thirteen isolated mini-symphonies bound together only by
their proximity on the same plastic disc. That said, if at times the
songs nearly drown in their own overwrought arrangements, the obviously
talented Romanello can still whip up some splendid pop moments: the
ostentatious hello of "An Insomniac's Diary," the eternally
memorable melodies of "The Artist" and "Novocain,"
or his gentle handling of "The Amazing Disappearing Man,"
for example. Featuring fellow Okie and resident genius Steven Drozd
of the Flaming Lips on percussion duties, Romanello's second solo outing
is a flawed, if eminently listenable piece, which offers hope to the
closet Wilson/Spector acolytes toiling in obscurity everywhere, and
will perk the ears of anyone whoe wonders what The Verve would have
sounded like if fronted by Jeff Buckley and if all their songs had the
string section of "Bittersweet Symphony."
By Matt Gleason
Tulsa World - SPOT Magazine, Tulsa, OK 7/18
Tony Romanello wants to make this very clear: He plays rock music. It's
the kind in which he plugs in his les paul guitar, counts "one, two,
three" and the speakers just about burst. That's what the singer-songwriter-guitar
slinger has done on the local and regional scene for threee years as
the front man for the Tony Romanello Band. Its moniker these days, though,
is simply the TRB.
Romanello has won five Spot Music Awards and is revered on the local
music scene, but sometimes, even now, Tulsans query him about what the
TRB is all about. "We have a lot of people who are like, 'Yeah, I've
heard of you guys. What're y'all? A blues band? Are you a lounge singer?"
"No," Tony calmly tells them. "We're a rock 'n' roll band."
the TRB's new four-song EP, "Where Are You Tonight?" Romanello said
he just wants people to hear the title track on the radio - KMYZ (104.5fm)
has the tune its in rotation - and make people more aware of the TRB's
been kind of coming from the underground for a few years, so we're ready
to step it up a notch and get a little more visible," he said. "The
goal was to make something that everybody is familiar hearing live,
which is a four-piece band with loud guitars, drums and a lot of screaming
and yelling all in harmony." Romanello said his solo album "Counting
Stars" wasn't a disappointment, but it was "really out of left field."
"It threw people off when they heard it," he said. "Hopefully this EP
is what brings people out to the shows."
TRB's on-stage vibe could have been the hardest thing to capture during
recording sessions at Brad Mitcho's Glass House Studios, which spanned
from December to May. But with Mitcho's help, they pulled it off, said
TRB drummer Josiah Borgos. "Getting the songs to really sound like they
were live and sound the way we heard them in our heads was pretty important,"
he said. Romanello said he couldn't stress enough that the EP was a
collective effort by guitarist Andy Callis, Borgos, and former bassist
Brad Hall and himself. "Very rarely did I take a song to practice and
say 'This is the song. Learn it,'" Romanello said. "It really brought
everybody into the mix more, which maximizes what we are good at."
band's new bassist is Paul Cristiano, formerly of the now defunct Tulsa
rock band Royal Crush. "It's good to have Paul come in as an outsider,
sort of speak," Romanello said. "We've been kind of doing the same thing
for two years, so it's nice to get his perspective on things." Romanello
said he was floored by Cristiano's idea that the bands they all admire
on the national scene shouldn't be their idols - they should be their
competition. "That was inspiring, "Romanello said. "It's helped us take
it up a notch."
of the three studio tracks on the EP, entitled "Ordinary Man," means
more to Romanello than any song he's written for a while. "It's based
on the premise that there aren't extraordinary people," he said "There's
only normal people who are capable of doing extraordinary things." One
of the lines in that sons is going to be on our T-shirts: "Believe in
the greatness of every dream." Initially, "Ordinary Man" and "History"
were supposed to be a part of a musical suite, but it never became a
"History", Romanello writes about how one generation perceives another.
But hypothetically speaking, if someone was to write the TRB's history
up to this point Romanello said he would like to be remembered for his
songwriting. "I believe in a lot of respects that songwriting is almost
a lost art today, so it'd be great if we were remembered for our songwriting
and, moreover, combining songwriting sensibilities with good ol' fashioned
rock n' roll."
Down the Sophisticated Production, it's Straight-Ahead Rock Time
By Chris Greer
Oklahoma Music Magazine, Tulsa, OK 5/03
"So whats the most logical next move for a guitar/songwriter virtuoso
who has already ascended, at least on a regional level, to godlike status?
You reinvent yourself.
Tony Romanello, 2002 may not have been a breakthrough year - he's been
a hot commodity since dropping his post-grunge prog-pop sound via The
MumbleOdd on us in 2000 - but it clearly provided himm the type of success
and kudos that would make it a tough year to beat. Following up on MumbleOdd
(an album he began while fronting the band Murmur and finished on his
own), the sophomore venture Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo and a full band EP,
Shades of Grey, he turned out the long awaited Counting Stars album.
With his high degree of production, the addition of a string and horn
section, the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd sitting in on drums and Trent
Bell (of Starlight Mints and Chainsaw Kittens fame) producing, Stars
lived up to all the underground hype. Recorded and mixed over a two-year
period, the album cemented Romanello as the Yes or pre-Phil Collins
fronted Genesis of Oklahoma.
only drawback to the album is that it's pretty damn hard to pull off
the same sounds likve. "We've only done it like two or three times and
even then we had to pull an extra set of musicians," says Romanello.
with all his Phil Spector-studio experimenting out of his system for
now, Romanello is focusing on a more straight ahead rock album with
his TRB band. Formed during the Stars recording sessions, the four piece
(including bassist Jarrod Major, guitarist Andy Callis, and drummer
Josiah Borgos) plans to market the EP in cities that were favorable
to Stars. The as yet untitled EP will have 3 to 4 originals plus, depending
on how they mix out, a couple of B-sides as well.
may be a different sound than what people expect from the band or me
in general, but it's the direction I want to go," says Romanello. "At
this time, it would be kind of stupid to shun the publicity we've gotten
Review: Counting Stars
By Tom Maxwell
Modern Fix Magazine (Los Angeles, CA)
It seems the Frog Queen Jeremy Enigk has been dethroned. The former
Murmur front man Tony Romanello has really outdone himself with this
album, but don't let the name fool you because Tony gets plenty of help.
Most of these songs have an orchestral feeling because of the strings
and horns which come in the form of piano, cello, viola, sax, trumpet,
and trombone. Tony's arrangements of the songs are immaculate and beautiful
on so many different levels. On the surface is a pop wonderland of catchy
interludes and amazing vocal ability, but if you are willing to fully
download the whole album you will find extremely complete songs with
deep and meaningful lyrical themes. "Counting Stars" frequently frequently
changes gears from a purely pop stripped down acoustic song to a very
grungy Murmur type of song, but definitely is careful not to steer too
far off course. most notable are the tracks "An Insomniac's Diary",
"Finally Found", and "Why Reminisce". The Slide guitar in "Why Reminisce"
sends chills down my spine just like good music should. This guy really
wants to identify with his listeners and his unabashed for of getting
his point across makes him the new Frog Queen. My hat is off.
Brings Large Pool of Talent
By John Estus
The O'Colly, OSU, Stillwater, OK 4/11/03
Some of Oklahoma’s most prestigious and respected musical talent will
take the stage at the annual Bennett Jam on Friday night.
Jam has been relocated to the Old Central Lawn just off Hester Street
due to the renovation of Bennett Residence Hall, the typical home stage
of the event.
Bennett Jam has been a place for many Oklahoma State University students
to showcase their musical talents and plenty of that will take place
the pool of firmly established talent is deeper than usual this year,
with Tulsa’s critically acclaimed Tony Romanello Band headlining the
event. Supporting are Tulsa’s funkified fusion favorites Jazzcow and
peppy pop punk band HotrodboB.
Tony Romanello Band has been persistently promoting their hard-nosed,
post-grunge rock set in and around the Tulsa music scene for more than
two years now, in support of front-man Tony Romanello’s internationally
acclaimed solo albums, 2000’s “The MumbleOdd” and 2002’s “Counting Stars”
as well as the band’s EP, “Shades of Grey.”
a lifetime musician who also has a full time job as an engineer in Tulsa,
has spent most of his time over the past few months promoting the aptly
titled “Counting Stars.”
album was essentially a two year process for Romanello, beginning with
demo sessions with producer Trent Bell (Flaming Lips, Starlight Mints).
somehow managed to talk (Flaming Lips drummer) Steven Drozd into playing
on the record,” Romanello, 26, explained in an interview this week.
“We went down (to Bell’s Norman studio) sporadically over the next year
and half, it took like 40 nights to finish it; 40 days and 40 nights.”
and his longtime friend and fellow Tulsan Steve Gooch put the record
out on their label, Engine Shed Records. The release was accompanied
with a largely successful College Music Journal radio campaign.
first goal was to break the CMJ Top 200,” Romanello said. “I’ve always
been a fan of college music and the college music scene and the CMJ
charts. I think the CMJ charts is where I found out about a lot of the
music I love now.”
Stars” stayed in the CMJ Top 200 for seven weeks and peaked at number
60, well above Romanello’s typical humble expectations and amongst some
of his idols.
it was crazy,” he gasped. “No. 75 was George Harrison, No. 80 was Zwan.
And granted, they’re probably still on the charts, and we’re just long
gone,” he said with a laugh. “We’re still trying to promote it as much
as possible,” he said.
within the grandiose, spectacular sound of “Counting Stars,” Romanello
can’t hide from his guiltiest pleasure: r-a-w-k.
TRB, as it is known by fans, has plenty of hard-charging rock in store
for the future, with plans for a new album well into the works.
love ‘Counting Stars’ and the sound of it and the depth of it musically,
but there’s just something gratifying about rock,” he said. “It’s something
that doesn’t happen enough these days. Just some old fashioned rock
‘n’ roll, just plug in our guitars and turn ‘em up and just go.”
has grown to love his live band, guitarist Andy Callis, 26, and drummer
Josiah Borgos, a self-proclaimed 20-something. Bassist Brad Hall recently
left the band due to personal changes in his life, and Jarrod Major,
19, formerly of Streamline, will fill in for Hall.
staple in the TRB live set has been Borgos’s furious, precise drumming,
although Romanello had some different first impressions of the New Orleans
I first met him, I’m like, ‘so what kind of kit do you have, dude?’
and he was like, ‘uh, I don’t have a kit,’” Romanello remembered with
would find out later that Borgos had to sell his kit for financial reasons.
“I was like ‘dude, this guy’s gonna suck! He doesn’t even have a kit!’”
he said. “This guy is ridiculous!” “So he bought a kit, and came to
practice, and it was like, ‘oh. OK.’”
still talks about his memories of college at the University of Oklahoma
on a regular basis and remembers coming to OSU for Bennett Jam on a
he still likes to pretend he is in college, he joked. Like a recent
trip to Dallas for a show in Deep Ellum, for instance.
was Romanello’s birthday weekend, and the band took him to Coyote Ugly
to celebrate. “(The staff) found out it was my birthday because somebody
told the bartenders that I don’t like to drink before shows,” he said.
“They made a fool out of me and poured tequila down my throat. It was
bad. I hate tequila.”
Friday, Romanello and TRB will be back at college, and they promise
to bring the rock to Bennett Jam like never before. Whether Romanello
decides to relive the college experience afterward has yet to be determined,
Review: Counting Stars
By - Glen Sarvady
CMJ New Music Monthly (New York, NY)
Its hard to rattle off the names of many bands from Tony Romanello's
Tulsa stomping grounds but the Flaming Lips (from nearby Oklahoma City)
inevitably spring to mind. Sure enough, Lips' drummer Steven Drozd plays
throughout Romanello's 3rd solo disc, and Counting Stars shows a fondness
for the orchestral flourishes that Wayne Coyne's crew has brought to
its recent work. The similarities stop there, however - Romanello's
symphonic grandeur is less synthetic and more front-and-center. For
his most successful compositions, his ensemble swells to 12, including
a full string quartet, and a four-piece horn section. The Beatles-esque
"An Insomniac's Diary" sports an aching sweetness that recalls Rufus
Wainright. Beneath the strings and horns, though, beats the heart of
a power popper. (Here's some potential geographic significance: genre
forefather Dwight Twilley hailed from Tulsa.) While Romanello's rock
past in Murmur only makes itself known in his electric guitar on the
edgier "Novocaine" and "Finally Found," it's easy to imagine most of
these tunes delivered in a straightforward guitar/guitar/bass/drums
setting. Unfortunately, Romanello's budget and inspiration wane before
he runs out of disc, and on a few less-ardorned tracks he comes across
as an overwrought coffeehouse folkie. Though too precious in spots,
Counting Stars offers enough inventive twists and fresh energy to collar
a pop fan's attention.
Review: Counting Stars
By - Jim Allen
UNCUT Magazine (London, U.K.)
"Paisly Meets Flannel in Tulsa, OK... Remember back in 1995 when Eric
Matthew's mix of contemporary rock sonorities and Brian Wilson production
values (It's Heavy in Here) was supposed to be the cat's pajamas?
Well, singer-songwriter Tony Romanello from Oklahoma has finally delivered
on that promise. Post-Sergeant Pepper glockenspiel and horn section
lead into Jeff Buckleyesque wailing. String quartets give way to distortion-laden
The presence of Flaming Lips skin-pounder and multi-tasking whiz Steve
Drozd is further clue that Counting Stars is psych-pop successfully
Review: Counting Stars
By Thomas Conner
Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 10/12/02
The dreaded sophomore outing.
years ago, Romanello rode about town upon the shoulders of amazed local
musicians and slobbering rock critics (ahem), lauded like a Greek hero
for the victory and glory of his debut CD, "The MumbleOdd." The songs
on that album were carefully structured chamber pop with serious singing
and heavy guitars. It was a small semblance of classical beauty in a
follow-up is his Trojan horse. He wheels it through the gates, and we
expect a big prize. Then out trickles trouble.
is no doubt a smart and talented musician, wholly deserving of the three
nominations in tonight's 2002 Spot Music Awards, including Artist of
the Year. That's why he's one of our performers at Saturday's awards
Stars," however, suffers a little from excesses and extravagance. Romanello's
ambition is to be praised, but it also may need to be reined in a bit.
the curse of the Flaming Lips, really. Everyone was so blown away by
the immense orchestration and grandeur of "The Soft Bulletin" and, this
summer, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," and now their fellow Okie
rockers want to follow suit. But the Lips had been tinkering with noise
and notes for two decades before those breakthroughs, and some of the
up-and-comers might not be up to these challenges quite yet.
Romanello is up to it, surely, but "Counting Stars" sounds as if the
excitement and the possibilities overwhelmed him. It's a magnificent
record -- full of sound and fury -- but it's also fat with too much
sound, too many parts.
"The MumbleOdd," sometimes his songs threatened to wander away without
quite resolving melodies and intentions. On "Counting Stars" this tendency
finds an enabler in the massive, tangled orchestrations that nearly
suffocate some songs, slowing down many that beg for speed and urgency.
is an obvious Beatles yearning here -- from the George Harrison slide
guitar underneath "Why Reminisce?" to the plunking, piano-driven, "A
Day in the Life" feel of "The Amazing Disappearing Man" -- but while
the ideas and compositions are bold and exciting, the execution misses
the simplicity and clarity of "The White Album" by a significant margin.
the record, Romanello might be acknowledging his plight, sending out
S.O.S.'s from the studio. He repeats an epigram for the sessions in
his strong opening track, "An Insomniac's Diary," singing, "It's such
a confusing tune. I'm not quite sure what to do."
"The Amazing Disappearing Man," Romanello himself actually begins to
disappear in the horns and pianos and drum loops and guitars and synthesizers
and strings. He fights against the storm of sound by crying out the
obvious, over and over, "It all gets twisted around." By "Novocain,"
he's numb, acquiescing with his own overdose of session musicians and
admitting, "All the greatest triumphs become tragedies, all the brilliant
plans become parodies."
is neither a tragedy nor a parody. "Counting Stars" is a template of
genius, a black-and-white outline of exquisite chamber pop that got
colored too brightly and spilled over the lines. Sometimes the orchestral
assault works to his advantage, as in "De Leon," a song about the fountain
of youth that uses the musical mob to punch the way for Romanello's
light vocals, skittering guitar and cello. When he backs off even more,
Romanello sounds positively relieved. "Why Reminisce?" is such a song
-- loose, lively, utterly dreamy aboard acoustic guitars and quiet contemplation.
It's a welcome oasis amid the damp, woolen thunder of the remaining
also a song about not looking back, about how freeing it can be to leave
the past where it lies. My exhaustion with the ambition of "Counting
Stars" is not a plea to return to the mildly simpler basics of "The
MumbleOdd." Romanello is a visionary, and we'll be lucky if he keeps
looking ahead and reaching for those stars. He just needs to also keep
his feet on the ground.
Crush, Romanello Romance Firehouse
By Doug Hill
POP - Norman Transcript, Norman, OK 10/11/02
is a song called 'The Artist.' We recorded it right here in Norman with
Trent Bell," TR said. Along with Andy Callis (guitars), Brad Hall
(bass) and Josiah Borgos (drums), he replicated the fifth track from
his celestial new album "Counting Stars" (Engine Shed Records,
rock was irresistable counterpoints of hardness and sensitivity. TR's
vocals were pillow talk punctuated by brief cyclonic intensity. Sharp
edge rock collided with dazzling emo pretties. TRB are making Tulsa's
21st century New Wave.
band left the stage, and he sang solo, playing electric guitar. Romanell
opened the song slow and rough. He bridged to silk panty-smooth.
Stars" is a amazing work, lush with viola, violin and glockenspiel.
It's studded with Norman talent - Derek Brown (piano), Steven Drozd
(drums), George Ahmadi (sax), and Boyd Littell (tablas).
as butterscotch sundae, Romanello's lyrics are seriously stream of consciousness.
Existential heartbreaker "Tell Me, Please" is deep. "Orbits"
is other-worldly, coming straight from Romanello's far out soul.
Profile: Artist of the Year, Best Rock Band, Best Local Album
By Thomas Conner
Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 9/06/02
Best Rock Band
"Romanello's nominated as Artist of the Year and for his
sophomore solo album. This, however, is not the complete picture. When
he takes the stage, he's got an army of fierce rockers marching through
and defending his unique compositional strategies. With the band, Romanello's
sound often becomes a wall. The bricks in that wall -- including shy-but-deadly
guitarist Andy Callis and ruthless drummer Josiah Borgos -- build something
wholly different and solid, and audiences line up to hear it."
-- The Tulsa World, 9/06/02
Best Local Album
" It seemed impossible for Tony Romanello to expand the broad vision
he displayed on his debut, the expansive and dreamy modern rock of 'The
MumbleOdd.' 'Counting Stars' was eagerly awaited, and it delivered on
its anticipation -- turning Romanello's musical world view into a grand
vision of the universe. Stuffed with guitars, cellos, Fender Rhodes
keyboard and drums by the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd, 'Counting Stars'
aspires to greater heights than your basic three-chords-and-the-truth
basher. It's a magnanimous opus. " -- The Tulsa World, 8/30/02
Artist of the Year
"Tulsa's boy wonder of modern rock has gone from Rising
Star winner to Best Rock Act to this, our highest recognition for service
in the line of local music. Not only did he return to record store shelves
this summer with his eagerly awaited sophomore record, 'Counting Stars,'
Romanello has been fighting the good fight for local music by establishing
his record label, Engine Shed Records, with national distribution for
some of its acts. An exquisite recording artist, a powerful live performer
and a savvy businessman, Romanello is leading the charge." -- The
Tulsa World, 8/30/02
Tulsa's New Wall of Sound
By Thomas Conner
Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 8/02/02
Photo Credit: Kelly Kerr, Tulsa World
Romanello's solo CD contains equal parts spark, smoke and pageantry.
you play by the rules, you'll lose. -- Tony Romanello, "An Insomniac's
next to a guy like Tony Romanello, you wouldn't guess some people revere
him as a god.
just a local bloke, bellied up to the bar in a clean T-shirt and hair
styled by the occasional run-through of his hands. He drinks domestic
longnecks. He only plucks at the complimentary chips once I, the boorish
journalist, begin devouring them.
I have deified him. Two years ago, upon the release of his solo debut
CD, "The MumbleOdd," I declared his greatness to the World, and readers
followed suit by voting for him every year in the Spot Music Awards
-- Rising Star in 2000, Best Rock Act in 2001. Someone next to me in
a nightclub last year guffawed, "He's gonna take over the (expletive)
no Terminator is he. He's just a lone little Battlebot making his particular
circumstances try to have as much spark and smoke and pageantry as human
not going to be the next Beatles. I'm not doing anything earth-shattering,"
he said during a recent interview. "If I can reach someone with a song,
that's the highest reward in life."
a surprisingly standard answer from a performer who consistently works
out careful, strategic attacks on rock's rules. "The MumbleOdd" was
a forthright rock record, but the guitars aimed a little higher, striking
at hearts instead of guts. They imploded more than exploded, and the
force was just as powerful -- a fusion, not fission, bomb. It wasn't
a new sound necessarily, but it was good, great, sometimes breathtaking.
is a guitar guy, by nature -- someone who got inspired to play by hearing
Guns 'N Roses, who started his first band at age 14, whose first Tulsa
projects included a stint in Jify Trip and a band called YSY with future
Epperley and Aqueduct leader Dave Terry.
in pursuing the follow-up recording, Romanello, of course, got rid of
most of the guitars.
tried to really cut back on the guitars, tie them back, make them submit,"
Romanello said of the songs on his new CD, "Counting Stars." "I'm a
guitar player first, but we took stuff that I normally would play on
guitar and toned it down, played it through other instruments, piano
and strings. I've always wanted to create a modern wall of sound like
"Counting Stars" approaches modern rock from the perspective of a composer,
at the very least a studious arranger. The album opens with a string
quartet, then a blast of horns and drum loops and a banging piano --
underneath which are some guitars, if you listen carefully. Many of
the songs are crazy constructs -- chamber suites with the string quartet
leading into freakish tangles of distorted noise, overly ambitious ballads
that swell and crash like the north Atlantic, delicate introspections
dancing on the wound steel of an acoustic guitar. No single track springs
from the fertility of its predecessor, but they each take root and blossom,
whether they're brilliant late-summer show pieces or scary, carnivorous
lilies straight out of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
wanted to do something that hadn't been done around here -- at least
on an independent level" Romanello said. "I want to let people know
there's different stuff going on in Oklahoma. Other than the Flaming
Lips and the Starlight Mints, there are not too many people doing things
that differently around here."
Romanello's inspirations come from the other end of the 'pike. He recorded
the album in the analog studio of Chainsaw Kittens guitarist Trent Bell.
He digs Norman's Starlight Mints. The Lips' drummer, Steven Drozd, played
all the drums on "Counting Stars," and Derek Brown from the Frequency
Bliss played the keys.
inspiration is less musical -- though there are certain similarities
-- and more in the free-form, open-minded approach those bands have
grew up fascinated by the Beatles, by Bowie's `Hunky Dory.' That album
was incredible. It had so much more than just straightforward guitar-bass-drums,"
he said. "It's hard to talk about how I get those ideas out. There's
this little musician running around in my head, and it's a challenge
to find common ground, to get the song out.
have ideas of what the song should sound like more than what the notes
are. It doesn't come in an epiphany, but you have to be open enough
to let the crazy ideas have room. It's mostly a feel you're going for,
it's impressionistic. It's moods and colors. `MumbleOdd' has lots of
references to color. I think painters and musicians are a lot alike:
they don't know really what they're after until they get there."
impressionistic creation takes time. Songs for "Counting Stars" began
tracking in Bell's studio in March '01. The "Shades of Grey" EP kept
fans tided over, but that was a band project, not Romanello solo. As
he said, the band is geared toward the stage; his albums are geared
toward your stereo.
the band is on stage this weekend, in fact, it will be an expanded edition
-- special for the CD release show. In addition to the Tony Romanello
band -- drummer Josiah Borgos, guitarist Andy Callis, bassist Brad Hall
and Blaine Nelson on the Fender Rhodes piano -- look for saxophonoist
George Ahmadi, violinist Brent Williams and pianist Eric Knox.
2002: Burning, Intense Guitar Rock
By Joseph Felzke
Urban Tulsa Weekley, Tulsa, OK 4/17/02
Its all about the Tony Romanello Band.
Tony Romanello Bands debut ep Shades of Gray begins with a faint
echo, the airy caress of a delay-tinged guitar. And then, it explodes,
a shimmering wall of sound saturating the propel of the drums and singer
Tony Romanellos vocal whisper.
rhythm is intense and the guitars are blaring, but not with a metallic
slash. For the Tony Romanello band rocks nowhere near the present fad
of excessive anger. This is guitar distortion that is beautiful.
original music fans will be treated to the craftsmanship of Romanello,
along with a full slate of local artists performing their own works
at NewVo 2002, an original music showcase and all ages show at Cains
Ballroom, 423 N. Main St., Sat., April 27, 3pm to Midnight. NewVo is
sponsored by Urban Tulsa Weekly, Action Trucks, Neighborhood Financial
Center, M.e.t., Anheuser-Busch, Tulsa Band and KJRH-TV.
the 60s, kids were restless. They wanted to change the world and
raise new societies. The 90s were the age of nothingness. The
young looked around and saw no security, no safety, no purpose, and
this reflected in some of the music. Nirvana captured the nihilistic
decadence, but there were other bands that clutched the emotion, the
bitter sense of emptiness. Sunny Day Real Estate found that intensity
was their salvation. With elegant vigor they lashed out achingly electrifying
rock. My Bloody Valentine unleashed a blissful heavenly fog that dizzied
reality like no 60s psychedelia.
dislocated feelings seem to have carried on into this very young 21st
century musical climate, because The Tony Romanello Band eases wounds
with blissed out guitar spirals. Theyre drawing loosely on early
emo and dream pop to create an emotive, uncompromising brand of thick
haze rock. Shades of Gray is one of this years most lively releases.
Its an innovative arrangement of rock music, with the first three
tracks forming a trilogy entitled Part I, Part II
and Part III.
the course of these titles, Romanello and the Band twirl out a variety
of moods, from dragging fizzling hooks to driving rapid power pop to
flickering shadowy lullabies. This winding up and down allows the guitar
atmospheres to undulate, so that occasionally broken piano notes and
dreamy effects can slip into the melodic roar.
Tony Romanello Band is Tony Romanello (vocals, guitar), Andy Callis
(guitar), Brad Hall (bass) and Josiah Borgos (drums). The band formed
when Romanello, fresh out of OU, began working as an acoustic duo with
high school friend Callis. The pair eventually met bassist Hall, who
describes himself as an old-school U2 disciple, and drummer Borgos,
a passionate percussionist. This lineup began performing in and around
Tulsa, and won last years Spot Award for Best Rock Band. Vigorous
performances have gained them a reputation for being one of the citys
best live groups. I know what its like to be in the audience,
says Romanello. You become entranced with the band, and thats
what I think its all about: drawing people into your music.
caught the Romanello pack at The Loft recently. It was a show soaked
in dizzy emotion. The fizzling washes of guitars created a trance-like
color spectrum in the darkness of The Lofts music room. This melding
of howls: drums-bass-guitar, was like a jagged voice in a dream, and
the whole thing together, the dark room and the howl, coalesced into
some exaggerated otherworld. It was one of the best shows Ive
yet seen in Tulsa. When I think back on it now, its like remembering
a stark flickering light in a shadowy abyss.
away from the magical world of the live stage, The Tony Romanello Band
operates well in that other outlet of the rock band: the studio. Minimalist
production has allowed their spontaneous sound to gush forth on their
debut mini-album. Recorded with an eight-track ministudio, Shades of
Gray has a raw, underground feel. The drums sound like you are sitting
next to them. The gleaming guitar walls come across clear and unadorned.
band has released this CD on their own Engineshed label, a local company
that releases material by a handful of other acts including Little League
Hero and Standing On Zero. As far as getting our music out to
as many people as we can, explains Romanello, we can accomplish
the majority of what we want to accomplish right now on our own label.
So we want to ride that out as long as we can. Like most of the
interesting rock bands coming out right now, Tony Romanello and Co.
are taking an independents attitude toward the music industry.
describes the mainstream of today as being about nothing but the
hit single. What happened after the mid-90s was that
the industry went into a phase of total commercialism. Right now, the
masses are exposed to nothing but a copy of a copy of a copy because
the big labels think thats what will boost numbers on the charts.
But if you look to the past, the groups that really changed the industry
were leaders. They did their own thing and people were attracted to
that freshness. So the only way things will change is if bands
are themselves and something really new happens.
newness definitely isnt heavy metal. Weve all seen metal
stumble about for decades in an attempt to milk out album sales. But
rock can be fresh again. Its records like Shades of Gray that
explore the beautiful as opposed to the aggressive side of distortion
that spark your interest and pull you in. The energy thats in
rock doesnt have to be just about partying. It can be powerful
artistry. The driving crash of guitars over drums can be gorgeous. The
Tony Romanello Band expresses that.
band lineup hot at Firehouse
By Doug Hill
Pop Magazine, Norman Transcript, Norman, OK 4/12/02
Photo Credit: Doug Hill/Pop Magazine
singer/songwriter Tony Romanello (guitar) carries the Beatles around in
his head. The Fab 4 figure prominently into his musical odyssey.
have most of the Beatles catalogue. Along with Jeff Buckley, Sunny Day
Real Estate and U2, theyre one of my primary influences,
he said. My parents were big on classic rock. Growing up, we listened
to KMOD a lot.
talked about his music before headlining an emo extravaganza with A
Suncrush for Sweethearts, Standing On Zero and Lasso at The Firehouse
on March 29. My songs are very impressionistic. People have told
me some creative interpretations of what theyre about. I like
that and dont tell them any different when theyre wrong,
explained what distinguishes his band from others. Theres
a dichotomy between artists and entertainers. Were more artistic,
he said. Some bands just go through the motions.
who gives a damn about his band: I do, damn it! Also, we have
a wide range of fans, and thats something I encourage, he
T-town turn-ons: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (theyre fantastic),
Rewake (trip-hop hooks with an incredible vocalist) and Shamrock (heavy
modern rock). TR confessed his guilty musical pleasures. I
love the late 80s guitar virtuosos Eric Johnson,
Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Yeah, Ive been made fun of for it,
that the major labels have ruined popular music, TR found a silver lining.
Its opened a huge rift for indie bands, creating a chance
for lots of people to be heard, he said. This has influenced
creativity in a positive way.
concert: My really cool uncle, Chris Romanello, took me to the
Scorpions at Expo Square Pavilion for my 8th-grade birthday. He also
gave me my first Jimi and Led Zep tapes, TR said gratefully.
performed solo and seated. He began with a lingering guitar passage,
vocals almost an afterthought. Clever guitar dominated the set. This
is the Top 40 song if you want to dance, TR said about an instrumental
that was nothing of the sort.
songs are mad pretty and complex. Sample titles: A Red Shade to
Somber, Singing Sirens (Genesoma Part 2) and My
Opinions on the Tragedy.
adjusted his volume as it grew late and the Firehouse audience became
loud. Playing one of the toughest gigs there is (singing alone with
guitar in a noisy saloon), he roared into the din. TRs poetic
words were frequently muffled by crowd and guitar.
appeared to be living up to a credo expressed during the interview.
Always play the same. Rock out whether theres 5 or 500 people.
was in the singer/songwriter zone. His records go there as well, recalling
the Starlight Mints, Tyson Meade and New Tribe. Theyre trippy,
sophisticated emo with guitars gently weeping, lots of plaintive vocals
and cute electronic wanking about.
lyrics fall soft as chinchilla against a feminine cheek. TRs slow
tunes hang in the air like a motionless dream. His albums are available
Review - The Shades of Grey
By Joe Felzke
Urban Tulsa, Tulsa, OK 2/27/02
Tony Romanello Band holds your attention. Their impassioned blending
of emo, indie rock and power pop is truly unique, driven by the raw
beauty of the electric guitar, and the heartbreaking experience of the
love song. The band approaches both of these elements with a youthful,
natural spirit, and the music pours like uneasy emotion, gripping the
of four songs, Shades of Grey has a stripped-down four-track quality
that gives it a living/breathing charm. The songs are unbroken, fading
in and out of each other so that the tension is never lost. At times
there is floating softness, with feathery keyboard musings and chiming
triad chords, and then the music will wind up into a gorgeous melodic
roar that explores the aesthetic values of distortion. Tender melodies
drift and blissful guitar walls gyrate. This is rock that draws you
in, moving you through weeping landscapes of everyday pains.
engaging groups are rare, and the Tony Romanello Band earns the listeners
attention through the natural flow of emotion. J. F.