Today’s Feature – March 16-17: Rome In A Day

March 17, 2008 at 10:34 am (Today's Feature)

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At PensEyeView.com, we’re always looking to help emerging artists become the next big thing, to give them another voice in an industry that can easily drown out its members. It takes talent and endurance to break through… qualities Washington, DC alternative act Rome in a Day has no shortage of. The aptly named foursome realizes the grit that success requires; “The name is a satire, intended to convey the point that in an industry where there is such a focus on instant gratification, great things still take time, patience, dedication and, most of all, hard work.”

For a group with so many great adjectives surrounding them, it’s surprising to hear that they’re a “Craig’s List success story… of sorts,” especially when they’ve played with the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Tommy Lee, Carbon Leaf, Army of Me, Scythian, Mr. Greengenes and Jimmie’s Chicken Shack. They’ve also appeared at shows at Angel’s Rock Bar, Ned Devines, and at DC101 Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash. The group catches more and more notice with their “equal parts modern rock edge and soulful vocal styling… offering electrifying original music featuring strong male and female vocals combined with pure rock adrenaline.”

Their three song demo, “A Brief Into…” is currently getting play on various FM and internet radio stations with it’s “smoothly flowing lyrics, developing interesting and varied drumbeats, and pretty yet edgy vocal harmonies.” Catch a live performance if you can, where you’ll find “energy and adrenaline mixed with loud and complex rock riffs.” Also ask the group about their trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina. Good story. Learn more in the XXQ’s.

XXQ’s: Rome in a Day

PensEyeView.com: How and when did Rome In A Day first come together?

James: Considering that we’re a fairly new band, the process has been longer than one might expect given that fact. I was playing solo for a while with the intention of giving my solo tunes a bigger, full band treatment. So, I met Adam (our drummer) about 2 1/2 years ago. We played with several different line-ups, most being three-piece and none lasting for very long. We finally found Ali (our lead guitarist), who was originally our bass player, a little over a year ago. Things started to progress more quickly from that point on. When we decided to switch Ali over to lead guitar and add a fourth member to our group, we found ourselves at liberty to choose from many bassists who responded to the add of a more established Rome In A Day. Jay stepped in April of last year and the rest is history. It might surprise folks to know that we are a craigslist success story of sorts. Don’t tell anyone, haha!

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where you all listening to?

Ali: Started out on Classical piano (Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Bach). Then listened to alot of funk (Maceo Parker, Tower of Power, Liquid soul, Parliament) and Jazz guitar (Soulive, Greyboy All-Stars, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, MMW) and which eventually led to more progessive rock (Dream Theater, Into Eternity, Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Guthrie Govan, John Zorn, Buckethead, Joe Satriani, Coheed). I was also obsessed with No Doubt in high school and had a brief stint listening to Ska and Punk music (Less than Jake, Reel Big Fish etc). I’m pretty embarassed about that though! Maybe we should leave that out. Haha!

James: I went through a bunch of phases… as a kid, I listened to pop (Michael Jackson, Terence Trent D’arby- now named Sananda Maitreya- etc.), Motown, Scott Joplin, classical, a couple country dudes… basically, a lot of the stuff my parents were listening to as an interacial (and thus eclectic) couple. However, I think my dad (black), might have been a bigger country fan than my mom (white), haha! I went through a rap/r&b phase as an adolescent, memorizing my favorite Warren G., Fresh Prince, Kool Moe Dee, Nonchalant, Baby Face, Tony Rich, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Digital Underground, Naughty by Nature, and Boyz 2 Men songs. Towards the end of junior high, I got into the Seattle grunge scene (STP, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc.), which parlayed its way into classic rock in high school (although I stayed into grunge the whole way through). I also hit a l’il Latin phase when I started taking Latin guitar lessons. So, I got in to Mana and the Gypsy Kings (even though they’re from France). Nowadays, I listen to pretty much everything from rock to hip-hop to classical to bluegrass. Just take a look at my CD collection- my tastes are a culmination of all my past phases.

I’ll take liberty to answer for Adam and Jay too. For Adam, I’ll say Sesame Street and The Wiggles. And for Jay, I’ll say Barney and The Teletubbies. That’s what you guys get for letting Ali and me answer all these questions!

PEV: Was there a certain point when music went from hobby to knowing you could do it for a living?

Ali: We’re still working towards that aren’t we? Get me out of this day job!

James: For me, it was when I quit my day job a few years back. Hmmm…

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How did it go?

James: Once we got Jay, our first show was at a friend’s art exhibition at the Pierce School Lofts in DC. It was no Ram’s Head Live or RFK Stadium, but it was a good time… and it was an encouraging start finding out that we could have so much fun together playing at the top of a staircase!

Ali: Awww, well for me it was Whitlow’s in Arlington. It’s a continual process in developing a stage presence and a dynamic with one another, but it was definitely a positive experience and made me realize that it was only the beginning of something longstanding and very worthwhile.

PEV: From that first time on stage to now, how has your performance style changed?

Ali: I think we’re alot more confident and energetic. We have more crowd interaction, and our songs have definitely taken a more aggressive format.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Rome In A Day performance?

Ali: Energy and adrenaline mixed with loud and complex rock riffs. James Stevens jumping on the bar and Ali trying to strut in high heels. Jay doing his bass dance and Adam smiling like a goon behind his kit 🙂

PEV: Tell us about your latest release.

James: It’s a three-song demo entitled ‘A Brief Intro…’. You can currently hear a couple of the songs on various FM and internet radio stations. Don’t worry- we’ll have a lot more songs out soon!

PEV: How is your sound, different from other bands out there today?

James: We seek to impress people with every element of our music while retaining a catchy, widely accessible appeal. We put a lot of thought into writing thoughtful but smoothly flowing lyrics, developing interesting and varied drumbeats, and working out pretty yet edgy vocal harmonies. Some bands are vocally driven, others base their songs around guitar riffs, while others are all about the beat. We like to let it all shine.

Ali: We have a pretty diverse set of musical backgrounds, which I think forms RIAD’s unique style.

PEV: Since you are based out of Washington, DC, tell us about the DC music scene.

James: A lot of the action (in the rock scene at least) lies around the fringes, in Northern VA, in MD… I’ve found the fans to be supportive and the bands to be cooperative. Some musicians complain that the scene is too clique-ish. I’ve yet to fully form my opinion on that subject.

PEV: Tell us about life on the road for the band. Best and worst parts?

Ali: Best parts: Seeing the country, bonding/having fun with the bandmates, being able to market your music to new areas. Worst parts: Trying to maintain the same energy on stage after traveling all day, not having a place to curl my hair/put on makeup, the minor bickering after seeing the same people day in and day out.

PEV: What’s one thing that people would be surprised to hear about each member of Rome In A Day?

Ali: I’m not sure how to answer this exactly – I guess I could pick something random about myself (I’m a sorority girl? I also play piano? I majored in Politics and Business? I’m a freak about ketchup?).

James: Let’s talk about Jay and Adam… Jay’s silly despite wearing a beard and Adam is old enough to drink (he just usually chooses not to). As for me, somewhere in between my acting like an idiot and occasionally speaking in broken English, I got a psychology degree at Yale.

PEV: When you sit down to write music what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

Ali: A calm one, with some minor libations, where we can vent emotions and colaborate creatively (after a slew of hostile text messages) huhuhuh!

James: Ummm, yeah… Ali and I get along a lot better in person than over email/texts. I guess that’s a lot better than the reverse… I hope Ali doesn’t read this! heheheh!!

PEV: How have all your friends and family members reacted to your careers?

Ali: With the upmost support and enthusiasm. It’s part of what makes this business rewarding.

James: My sister knows the lyrics. Her criticisms have also been crucial to my development as a charismatic frontman. The cool thing about music is that everyone has an opinion about it. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family members who are willing to express their real opinions, then you can learn from their honest suggestions and revel in their sincere praises.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of the band’s career so far?

Ali: There have been quite a few – doing the 98 rock interview, playing a show like Angels Rock Bar in Bmore/Ned Devine’s in Sterling/DC101 Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash. As we progress as a band, we’re always given new and more exciting experiences. It’s difficult to pick just one.

James: I’d say when we were in the Outer Banks, NC and had to figure out how to burn the time between when my folks turned in the key for the beach house we were staying in (10am) and when we had to go onstage at Sundogs (10pm). Needless to say, it involved heating hotdogs in the sun and offering them to people (and a dog); Jay tossing me the frisbee and me somehow ending up w/ a busted lip; inviting Eastern European store clerks to the show (and they showed up!); watching Ali unwittingly dip her purse in salt water; making up hacky games with Jay being the only one that actually knew how to use it properly; Jay beating Ali with an inflatable dolphin, and catching ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 3’.

PEV: When you aren’t touring or performing what can we find everyone doing in your spare time?

Ali: WORKING. UGH. What is this ‘spare time’ thing anyway? I’m not too familiar with that term.

James: Drinkin’, partyin’, havin’ the time of my life… no, I’m kiddin’. I’ve fashioned a full-time job out of booking shows, promoting, corresponding w/ fans, etc. Other than that, I like to watch movies, go to other bands’ shows, draw this comic I’ve been working on forEVER (soon my New Year’s resolution will kick in and I will magically finish it)… I have a lot of interests.

I think I can answer for Adam and Jay too. Adam likes to eat Lindt white chocolate truffles. Jay likes to drink Grand Marnier.

PEV: Which city do you think offers the best music scene and why?

James: We’ll letcha know after we’ve toured around a little more. I really like New York so far. When you go into a rock club there, you really know what it’s there for- to be ROCKED!

PEV: Having played with artists such as Paul Oakenfold, Tommy Lee, Carbon Leaf, Army of Me (PEV alumnus), Scythian, Mr. Greengenes, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, The Speaks, to name a few), what artists have you not collaborated with yet that you would like to?

James: I think we could all agree on Dream Theater, 30 Seconds to Mars, Anberlin, and Stone Temple Pilots (we’ll probably miss the next reunion tour, but we’ll take the next one please).

Ali: From a realistic standpoint? Or in general? I want to jam with John Petrucci/Guthrie Govan/Joe Satriani and have them show me how to be god (or in my case a goddess) on the guitar. I also want to collaborate with Gwen because I admire her energy and her style. Should we pick a few bands collectively though? Hmm.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now you think we should all be looking into?

Ali: Besides Rome In A Day? No. HA!

James: Haha! Well, there are certainly some other local/regional acts we admire, like The Underwater from York, PA, Sematic from Northern VA, and Of Broken from Baltimore. Oh, and RIAD from DC!

PEV: What one word best describes Rome In A Day?

Ali: Eclectic. Ineffable. (I stole Jay’s word). Something you haven’t seen before… what’s one word for that?

James: Fresh… but not in the flirtatious sense. Well… you can take it both ways.

PEV: Where will you and your music be in ten years?

Ali: In the 99 cent bin at Target. No, hopefully we’ll still be playing, marketing our music and having a profitable career out of doing something we all love and are very passionate about. Who knows where its going to take us though. I think that’s part of the fun of this industry. There is no set plan.

PEV: So, what is next for Rome In A Day?

Ali: Many more shows and many more songs to be recorded. Hopefully some intense studio time this Spring and some mini-tours over the Spring and Summer. And Lunch… I’m hungry! Wahhhh.

James: And acquiring many more fans is also the aim. The fans are the second most important thing in this business… next to LUNCH of course. Thanks for listening!

For more information on Rome In A Day, check out MySpace.com/RomeInADayMusic

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3 Comments

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