Hello there again my rockin’ parish!
Have I got a treat for you!
Off the back of one EP and in the process of writing material for his next Romeo Crow, a singer/songwriter and producer based in the Battersea area of London has taken time out of his busy schedule to let me interview him exclusively for UTB Rocks!
So, with out further a do…
Hi Romeo, First Thanks for your EP (You guys can get it at http://free.romeocrow.com/ for FREE!) It was for me a real blast…What would be your words to describe it ?
You are more than welcome! How would I describe it? A somewhat improvised dollop of blues rock! It was as much an experiment in home recording as it was in songwriting. I learnt a lot from the process too; my newer songs are somewhat shorter and less improvised!
Can you tell us about you and your background as a musician…Your past or actual involvement in other bands! We want to know everything…Go!
Haha, everything?! 🙂 I started playing guitar when I was about seventeen but it took until I was about twenty to get into my first real band; I was working in Blockbuster Video (if you remember it!) and a guy came in looking really shifty, spent ages milling about not really doing anything then finally came to the counter and asked just for a bag of sweets. I eyed him suspiciously and then he blurted out “Are you a rock singer?”. Turns out he was looking for a singer for his band, walked past, saw me and thought I looked the part! That was my first band as a singer. Alas it didn’t work out (the bass player and drummer both moved and that was the end) but then I started a band with some guys I lived with as a bass player, and the highlight was the band going on tour in support of Pete Doherty’s Babyshambles. That was an interesting time! But it didn’t last much beyond that unfortunately. After that I tried to sort a band out over the years but never could find the right people, so eventually I decided to do everything myself and the above EP was the outcome of my first tentative steps in writing, performing and recording everything myself!
I certainly remember Blockbuster Video and the name Pete Doherty is a blast from the past!
Are you working on anything at the moment? Can we expect something soon?
Yep, working on loads at the moment! I’ll have the third in my EP series Sketches coming out by the summer alongside my second “full” EP, “Grip the Sky” around the same time. I’ve got a few dance songs on the boil too, just looking for the right people to work with on those, as well as a couple of videos in the pipeline for songs from Grip the Sky. And, though I have been doing everything myself these past few years, I might well have a new band for the summer, because, as a bit of a rocker, it’s pretty dull just playing acoustic guitar on your own after a while – I want to turn things up to eleven and rock out!
We all love a good ‘Rock out’ here and turning it up to eleven is certainly something we would encourage!
Can you tell us more about any Ex-Bands? Do you still speak/work with them at all?
I’m still in touch with all the guys I’ve played with over the past fifteen years or so. But most of them are, like me, married with kids so their lives are pretty different! Music isn’t really their priority, I think I’m the only one, of those I used to play with, who hasn’t given in yet!
Ahh, you mean they have been caught by real life, I tried that once, the graphics were great but I didn’t like the game play so much!
The meaning of the lyrics in your songs, how personal are they to you?
Mostly I try to write from personal experience, but in a way that the listener can still relate to and superimpose their own experiences, so the song becomes more personal to them. In that way often the lyrics can be a little multi-layered; on the surface they may seem about one thing, but underneath there’s more meaning. Obviously there are exceptions; Say You’ll Stay With Me is about a stalker sharing their cell with the celeb they’ve been stalking – there’s not much personal experience there! But generally I like to draw from what I know.
That’s good to know your not a stalker!
Tell us more about the lyrics from the track ‘Shoes’, yes I’, subscribed to you at YouTube, That’s where I found it. (Romeo’s YouTube Channel)
Ah, very cool! That’s great to hear! Shoes is a good example of what I was talking about above. On the very surface its about finding your shoes so you can leave, like at the end of a party, so you don’t miss your ride home. But, underneath, it’s about not getting stuck in a rut of not fulfilling your potential or working towards your dreams. A lot of my lyrics tend to be about that, about not settling for what you think you should be doing but rather going for what you want to be doing. Too many people get on the nine-to-five treadmill for a “short” time, only to find that the years have flown by and they haven’t really progressed with what they really want to do, and then they feel it’s too late to make any changes and so continue in that rut, harbouring a growing resentment and regret. What they need to do is get their shoes and leave that party so they don’t miss their chance!
Shoes (and a long journey from London to Ischia, Italy!)
Have you covered songs by different artists, why did you pick these songs or artists in particular?
Yes, but only relatively recently. I simply pick songs I love, but not necessarily ones that I think my voice is “suited” to. For example, I’m not a soul singer but I love old classics like Heard it Through the Grapevine or Dock of the Bay, so I’ll belt out my own take on them. Of course when I do rock tracks like Whole Lotta Love or Sweet Child of Mine then it’s, arguably, more suited to my “style”. But then the latest song I just LOVE playing is Uptown Funk, so it can all get rather varied! For me, if it sounds good, and it feels good, then it IS good!
That’s my take on pretty much all music, if it sounds good then I’ll blast it out!
Rush, Queensryche and Fleetwood Mac (early Peter Green and Buckingham-Nicks-era’s) are some of my favourite bands ever, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Moore my favourite blues/rock artists, do you like these too? If so what is your favourite album/track by them and why? If you don’t like them… why?
I must confess to not knowing enough stuff by Rush and Queensrche, but I do love Fleetwood Mac. The early stuff with Peter Green was obviously much more bluesy, and more in kin with my favourite blues-inspired classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, but you can’t deny that some of the Buckingham-Nicks-era tracks are absolutely classics. I think they are a great example of seeing a band grow as a songwriting and stadium-filling force. And, being blues, guys like Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan are definitely up my street! For me SRV’s greatest tracks are ones like Lenny and Dirty Pool. I’m a sucker for slow blues songs! That’s why I think, perhaps controversially, Hendrix best album was the posthumously put together “Blues” album, but I think I’m biased to the blues! But the real king of the blues for me is Buddy Guy, he’s got the licks AND the voice.
Do you keep in mind while composing what your fans/followers are going to think of what you are doing, or do you just get the inspiration flow and worry after?
Not any more! I used to, but then I realized that, living in the digital age, it’s not about consuming a body of work (i.e. an album) anymore, people dip into an artist’s catalog one track at a time. So going with the flow of what I’m feeling is both more creatively rewarding for me and, potentially, opens my music up to more people. For example my song Please Don’t Make Me Cry is very Bond-esque and Feel Like Loving You is pop/dance – these are most definitely not rock or blues rock songs, but I love them nonetheless!
Where are you coming from as far as Singer/instrument player influences are concerned?
Pretty varied but certainly rock, funk, blues and soul are big influences on me. My favourite artist is Prince, that guy can, literally, do it ALL! Live or in the studio he is just the boss. Then my favourite bands are ones like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Rage Against the Machine. But I still love amazing songs and singers from the “crooners” age, Sinatra’s phrasing is off the hook and Dean Martin is still too cool for school. So, for me, influences really can come from diverse places.
About your voice & your singing style, do you consider yourself as a full time singer that plays guitar or as a guitar player that also can sing… or of course both?
Haha, I consider myself a student who has a lot to learn! However, whatever I play I always try to inject emotion, truth and passion first, then worry about technique after. Jimmy Page is, rightly, considered one of the best guitar players of all time – but he’s “sloppy” in so many ways. Mick Jagger arguably still can’t sing, but he is a DON of a front man! I’d much rather watch and listen to guys with passion flying out of them than those who are too focused on “perfecting” their notes. Of course if you get both then you are pretty much off the scale.
You are so right, if the show is good people seem to remember it far more than if its just ‘technically’ good.
As an artist from the UK, how is the Music scene in there and are there any major difficulties for artists to break onto the international market?
The UK live music scene has been taking a swan dive for years, and I think it’s just going to get worse, especially in London. It’s very hard to break through as a new live band. Thankfully though I don’t believe that the old school way of relentlessly gigging to next to nobody in order to build a fanbase is necessary anymore. Moreover, the divide of UK’s music scene from other countries is in decline to. And it is all thanks to the Internet. I’m London-based, but my biggest concentration of fans are in the USA, and I’ve support all the way on the other side of the world in Australia. That wouldn’t have been possible if I just followed the traditionally gigging band route.
Ahh, the good old ‘Gigging in a pub’ I do miss that sometimes, the atmosphere can be great!
Do you plan on touring in the UK soon? If yes, who would you like to support you or who would you like to support?
I would love to get gigging again, and hopefully my new band project will be ready to play in the Summer, but as to where to play, I really don’t know! Again, due to the Internet, it is a lot easier to focus gigs in areas where my fans already are, rather than just touring to a set pattern. Which means I’ll probably be more likely to tour the States before the UK! In terms of support/supporting, wow, I don’t really know – just bands and artists who have passion and a bit of a groove, that would be my only real preference.
Can we expect a record deal in the UK?
Maybe, but not for at least another couple of years. If I do start talking to a label it will be when I’ve got a very strong bargaining position. I’m not interested in getting a deal for the ego of it, only for the benefit it can bring the partnership between us. Too many artists and bands get screwed with crazy 360 deals because they’ve got nothing on the table to offer other than some good songs and a willing spirit. I’m too old to be a workhorse for a label – I like being my own boss! So, perhaps in a couple of years, but not yet.
What do you think of the state of the music market at the moment? What is your opinion concerning digital downloading legal and illegal?
It is the same basic argument that performers had when sheet music became popular, that labels had when radio surfaced; it is just a transition period that will settle itself out once the cultural mindset adjusts to the new age. Songwriters are complaining that they aren’t seeing as much in their royalty checks as they used to. And that is true. And that is probably down to streaming in part. But these people tend to be the incumbent generation. New artists are having great success with sponsorship, synching, direct-to-fan and patronage models. The problem is the focus; people are still trying to scrap over how to monetize the sale of music; it’s no longer a unit to be sold, it is access people are paying for now. Stakeholders need to focus on peripherally-related revenue streams rather than attempting to sell the music itself. And what they’ll find is there are a whole lot more revenue streams that have been enabled by the Internet than the sales one that has been somewhat disabled by it. Key to this is the real currency for any successful business (online or off); attention. Those who have people’s attention will prosper, those who don’t will struggle. Having great music gated behind a pay-wall is going to be more challenging for an emerging artist than opening it up to as many ears as possible and looking at ways of extracting value from that new-found attention.
Tell us what we have to expect from you in the future?
A LOT more music! A bunch more videos. Perhaps a novel or two. And a LOT more music!
Please let us know your favourite artists in the UK at present?
I’m afraid I’m pretty out of touch on that score, so I’ll let you know when I find some! Haha.
Please let us know your All time TOP 10 Albums?
Ohh, hard question! In no particular order; AC/DC Back in Black, Led Zeppelin I and II, RATM’s Rage Against the Machine and Battle for Los Angeles, Counting Crows: Live Across a Wire, GnR’s Appetite for Destruction, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ Come Find Yourself, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I guess that’s ten? But there are SO many more!
That’s 10, and yes it’s hard so you will hate me for this one! Please let us know your All time TOP 10 singles/tracks.
Damn you! This is too tough, I literally can’t answer it! Certainly tracks like Thunderstuck by AC/DC and Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin would be up there from a rock viewpoint, but depending on my mood it might be Con Te Partiró performed by Andrea Bocelli or just an instrumental like Le Onde by Ludovico Einaudi. Really too many to mention bro!
Bocelli, one of my wife’s favourite’s!
What is the last CD you have purchased?
I think I have only bought one CD in the past ten-odd years, and that was Yossi Sassi’s Desert Butterflies. And that was only because I saw him do a talk and wanted to support him – even though the album is free on his website. And I don’t even have a CD player anymore!
What is your favourite word?
Mina (my daughter’s name ;)).
What is your least favourite word?
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
3am, even if I’m asleep!
What turns you off?
My creativity, at 3am, when I’m trying to sleep.
What is your favourite curse word?
The old F’avourite!
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
People shouting in anger.
If not yourself, who would like to be ?
Sir Richard Francis Burton or Leonardo da Vinci.
What profession would you not like to do?
If you didn’t do what your doing now what job would you like?
I wouldn’t, that’s why I do what I’m doing now!
Who would like to see on a new bank note?
Thin air – physical currency is outdated.
If you reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be?
A bar-headed goose (if you want to know why, look it up!).
I wish to thank you for this Epic interview and wish you the best of luck with your upcoming work and on the path ahead. Anything else you want to share with the fans and our readers out there?
Thanks a lot, really appreciate YOU taking the time and interest to interview me! And so I’d like to say thanks to any reader who has read this far – cheers for YOUR time and interest! If you want to grab my EP for free just head to free.romeocrow.com and feel free to come chat with me on Facebook,.here’s my profile – fb.com/Romeo.Crow and my Page is fb.com/OfficialRomeoCrow. Cheers again, much obliged to you! 🙂
So there you have it, Romeo Crow being kind enough to give up time to let us have a little look into his world, so, to finish off let have one more song from the man himself!
Please Don’t Make Me Cry is very Bond-esque.
Until next time my musical friends, turn the volume right up and rip the knob off!
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