Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interview: Domenic Romeo (A389/Pulling Teeth)

First off, can you give our readers a brief introduction on who you are and what you represent. 
My name is Domenic, I can be found spread thin between my family, a record label called A389 Recordings and various bands/recording projects.  Most notably Pulling Teeth and Hatewaves.  

How were you introduced to Hardcore/Punk, and what was the first show you attended?
First show I attended was Iron Maiden/Anthrax in like 1990 when I was in 7th grade.  I was into crossover bands like Suicidal or DRI that had videos on the Power Hour, but I didn't go to a real hardcore show until like 1995 or so when I saw Madball for the first time.  Set It Off era when Matt Henderson was still in the band.   It definitely made a lasting impression.

As a listener/fan, what drew you toward darker hardcore (Integrity, Left For Dead, etc.)?
I'd attribute it to growing up as a metalhead and a horror fanatic, I was always drawn to darker things I guess.  I wouldn't call LFD a dark band tho.  They fall under my #1 criteria for hardcore bands which is being a legitimately angry band, and having it transpire through the music.  Bands like them, Haymaker, Despise You, Gehenna, all make my blood boil when I listen to them.  It's a feeling I think is lacking in a lot of bands these days.  There are a few bands that can still hit it though, like Low Places.  When I heard the new 12" I felt like a giant hand came out of the speakers and smacked me in the head.

Anyways cross that anger with dark riffs and you open the door to bands like Integrity, Ringworm etc, which is the recipe for my favorite style of hardcore. Dark hardcore.  Whatever you want to call it.

What was the reasoning for the move to the United States, and how do you feel the move changed you not only as a person but as a musician?
I came here to fill in for a tour with Comin Correct in like 2001.  My old band back home (Day Of Mourning) broke up the week before a full US tour, and I was determined to find another avenue to do it  Rick Ta Life emailed me at the perfect time.   It was there I met dudes that I would end up starting Slumlords and Pulling Teeth with and we travelled all over the US and Europe.   It was a lot of fun.

How did you become involved with the Slumlords, and how do you feel about that project?
We started that band because there were no bands playing straight-forward fun NYHC at the time other than your mainstays such as Murphy's Law or NRSV.   The whole Slumlords experience was perfect, from the shows to the bands recorded output.  I don't think it's something that can ever be recaptured, tho.  We played a couple shows years ago and the feeling wasn't the same.  A slice in time.

At what point did you decide to make the transition into making a new band?
It was fun writing music for Slumlords because it was out of the box for me, but in the back of my head I wanted to continue the work that was left incomplete with Day of Mourning.  Once Perlin's wife was pregnant with their son, I knew we'd be out of commission for a while so I switched gears and put all my focus on doing PT. 

How did Pulling Teeth become a band?
I wanted to start a band influenced equal parts by the bands that came out of Cleveland like Integ/Ringworm crossed with the Hamilton bands like Left For Dead/Haymaker.  That was the original vision, a lot has evolved since then.  I kinda recruited all the dudes from around Baltimore I thought were the most talented and driven.  Dudes that can actually play and could hang on tour.  We toured a lot in the early days and for the most part managed to keep the 4/5 same lineup from the first record to the last.

As a musician how do you feel about the progression in sound Pulling Teeth has made?
I dig it.  Every record strays even further from the original vision, but certain elements stay same.  They all tie together well.

You guys recently released a new full length entitled 'Funerary', what was the writing process behind that album?
Most of the music was written for 'PDPI' but we never got a chance to finish it as the band was dysfunctional at the time and could only finish 6 songs for those sessions.   We took the next couple of years fleshing out the  rest of the songs and making it cool.  Most of the motivation came from the passing of both Mike's father and my own.  

You recently became a father, how did the new addition change your intentions as a band (touring wise)?
I doubt I'll ever tour again.  I'm totally content spending all of my time with my wife and playing with my daughter.

Where do you see Pulling Teeth in 3 years?
Sleeping.  Maybe for a little while, maybe forever.

You also play guitar in a Grindcore band called Hatewaves, how did that project come into play?
The idea came about when PT was in Iceland.  There was a duck trying to float in the water that kept getting toppled over, I turned to Kuhns and said 'They must hate those waves'.  Hatewaves was born.  That duck was soon replaced TheXBeast (aka Alex Henderson/PT Drummer) as the band's inspiration.  He has an interesting outlook on life to say the least.  All of our songs are based off things that have come out of his mouth at one point or another.  HW consists of me, Kuhns, Dougie (that played in Slumlords) and Kevin/Jake from the band Triac.  We put out a 7" last year called 'Taste The Beast' and have a new 5" coming out this summer on A389/RSR.  

What other projects are you working on?
Alex from Skin Like Iron and I have talked about doing a new Virgin Witch record.  I loved the first 7", and would love to see it happen, but everyone is so busy as they get older.  Who knows if it will.  My wife used to sing in a band called Gnarly Rueage and actually sings the second part of the song 'Funerary' on the new PT album.  Her voice is sick.  I hope as the baby gets a little older, we can do create more music together.  PT might keep doing more records, but less shows...we'll see what happens.

Now onto your other endeavors, you run the label A389. How did that project unfold and how do you like being the man behind the desk for a change? 
I don't actually have a desk. I often work on the floor surrounded by boxes.  A389 started almost 8 years ago and has just managed to keep going, gaining more and more momentum as each year passes.  

What are your plans as a label for 2011 and beyond?
To keep releasing records that don't suck.

Also, I would like to touch base on this quickly. As a label owner, how do you feel about music sharing?
It's got its ups and downs.  When I was growing up it was tape trading which was awesome, I made a lot of great friends and discovered many bands that way.  But nowadays with blogs and file sharing... it's just a sign of the times.  Technology has made everything available easily, and without any personal interaction.  I don't mind people being able to find the music that much.  I'm glad they want to listen to it.  

It's the latter is what is really a bummer though. The sense of entitlement people display online and the lack of respect they have for the entire process that goes into making records exist is just pityful.  Remember if you keep taking and not putting anything back, eventually there won't be anything left to take.

Now onto you as a hardcore listener/fan, how do you feel about the current state of hardcore and what bands do you feel are raising the bar?
Asides from ALL of the bands on A389, or the bands I grew up listening to, there are few current bands I get stoked on.  Nails is great, I really like this band Ilsa from DC.  Magrudergrind of course.  Having Yo Gabba Gabba on around the house 24/7 makes me not want to listen to anything at all anymore.

Being the older guy, how do you feel the hardcore scene has changed in your time being involved with it and what issues do you see with the current hardcore community? 
I don't really go out to let alone play shows anymore, I just don't have the time to spare these days.  By the time I'm done with my day job it's either hang out with my family and make sure A389 stuff is taken care of, or go out to a show and lose out on that time.  As far as issues go, I put my time in and like to think I helped keep it going.  I booked shows for years, toured in bands, put out records, just like the guys who came before me, and those before them.  Now it's the next generation's turn to do what they please with it.  

Lastly, I would like to thank you for doing this once again and if you have any final comments/shout outs feel free to leave them here
You're welcome.  Tons of stuff coming out on A389 this year.  Up next new Seven Sisters, Hatewaves, Rot In Hell and more.... Taste the beast.