Around this time last year, Puyallup’s Roman Holiday made an impressive showing at their hometown Liberty Theater, packing the historic, 600-capacity venue to the rafters as they unveiled their sophomore disc, “Paint This Town.”
And in 2011, those RoHo boys plan to step their game up. By now established as one of the area’s most buzz-worthy bands, they will return to the Liberty Friday night, this time with support from their their pal, Ben Union. They’ll shoot some DVD footage while they’re at it.
Then they’ll turn their sights to loftier goals than conquering the local scene. Singer-guitarist Shane Lance thinks his crew is ready to take on the world.
“We’re really happy with where our local fan base is,” Lance said. “Right now we’re shifting our focus to growing an international fan base. … This is kind of kicking it off for us at home, but we’re really trying to take what we do to the masses, so to speak.”
That may sound like haughty talk for an unsigned band from Puyallup. But consider that Roman Holiday – also lead guitarist Daniel Collins, drummer Emerson Shotwell and bassist Nick Howard – is behind some of the slickest sounds on the local scene; shimmery, reverb-drenched melodies and towering choruses that, in terms of style and quality, would fit right in with Coldplay and Kings of Leon on the morning drive show.
Hey, Seattle rap legend Sir Mix-A-Lot is a fan. He even recorded a remix of “Filthy Hands,” the best track from RoHo’s last album. “We never released anything,” Lance said, “but he played with it and just loved the song.”
With endorsements like that and growing legion of fans on the internet, who needs major label backing?
“We’ve got a really great online following,” Lance said. “We’d just like to really see that grow – throughout the States, but especially in the UK. … We’ve been approached quite a bit (by promoters) from that side and just encouraged to spread our wings and get over there. So that’s kind of our game plan.”
But first Roman Holiday will start its year by showcasing new material on Friday night. Among the new cuts on the set list is “The Long Way Home,” a song they recently released a video for. (Embedded here earlier this week.)
“I guess it’s a typical thing to say, but they’re (the new songs) more mature,” Lance said. “’The Long Way Home’ is a little bit darker, a more emotional kind of song compared to the songs we’ve made in the past. The juxtaposition is ‘Yellow Sun,’ which is … like a classic rock love song. I think our sound is just getting bigger.”
Ben Union – the stage name for Tacoma singer-songwriter Ben Mira – has built a pretty solid fan base of his own with dynamic live sets and a sound he calls “progressive funk-rock.”
Union said that he and his band – guitarist Talon Carpenter, bassist Josh Stull, drummer Jared Mira and synth player “Shazam” – have been recording new material of their own recently with Jason Ott (Glimpse, the Joshua Cain Band) at Tacoma’s new Grit City Studios.
“He’s been really acting as a sixth member of the band. We connect really well,” Union said. “I can write songs well, but I’m not the best at producing them. So I really needed somebody who has a good ear and really has an outside perspective to be really hands on. He’s been writing some songs with me and giving us ideas and helping us really tighten up as a band.”
Among the new cuts Union plans to try out tonight is “Trance,” which he says strays into psychedelic, Pink Floyd territory.
“It’s really ethereal,” he said. “We use a lot of delay and echo. … The in between of when you’re coming out of a dream (is) what I’m trying to capture. That song, I think, is our hottest song right now.”
Local filmmaker Ron Walvante will be on site with five cameras to record concert footage for forthcoming DVD projects. Both acts plan to release footage from the concert online in the coming weeks with full concert DVDs to follow.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a pretty epic show,” Union said. “You’re gonna see and hear us like you’ve never seen or heard us before.”