After quickly rising through the ranks of the historical New Brunswick scene, ROMP are ready to take on the new year after a successful 2015. The NYC-based Bad Timing Records signed the band back in July and ROMP promptly re-released their excellent EP, Sorry, Not Sorry, in October with an additional song.
Two of the band’s members graduated from Rutgers several years ago and still live near the school, ergo their base. However, vocalist and keyboardist Madison Klarer still attends school in New York City. This split in locations means weekends are usually reserved for Klarer commuting for band practice and shows.
Klarer fiercely occupies the role of frontwoman with a delivery that embodies a lyrical style focused on independence and difficult introspection. However, tracks like the delightfully catchy “Drive” and the surf-punk love letter to Mexican food in “Burrito” also show a great sense of fun from the group. It’s important to note that to honor the latter track, ROMP issued an entire music video of just Klarer consuming a burrito.
I was lucky to catch Klarer and guitarist Lucas Dalakian before their weekly band practice to talk about the start of their makeshift catchphrase, picking producers and most importantly, their promising future.
How did “ROMP is tight” get started?
Lucas Dalakian: I think at the time we formed the band we were saying it a lot as a joke. It was from that movie This Is The End and they said, “Weed is tight” in that. But it was a funny little thing and we had to come up with like the Twitter name and stuff like “romp” and such was taken so it was just kind of an inside joke that we ended up using as our name. It’s kind of funny because we use it to challenge ourselves sometimes when we’re not sounding tight in practice… So that’s been funny.
I thought the video for “Burrito” was very funny—how’d you come up with that idea?
LD: Thank you very much. We actually didn’t have time to throw a music video together and so we wanted something a little more than just releasing a single because it’s a funny song. It’s not one of our more substantial songs so we just thought a little bit more than just releasing the song, “Why don’t we just have Madison try to finish a burrito in two minutes?”
Madison Klarer: And the song, “Burrito,” is about the place that we got the burrito from, it’s called Cinco de Mayo in New Brunswick so we were like, “Let’s get burritos from Cinco de Mayo where the song is about and just eat ‘em really fast!”
Were you nervous about having to do that in one take?
MK: Yeah, I guess because we had to do it in one take because we had one burrito and I was more nervous that I was going to look disgusting eating that burrito. But I feel like that just added to the humor of it. I think that Lucas was orchestrating some confetti and some streamers so he had to give people direction and made sure we got this all in sync in this one take.
LD: Yeah, we did trial runs without the eating to see how it’d work.
What was the process like getting signed to Bad Timing Records?
MK: Well, we started talking about doing a full-length and we knew we wanted it to be a bigger release. We wanted this to amount to something greater than the EP. We want vinyl, we want this to get more press, we want to tour more once the record comes out. So we opened our minds to it and we were fortunate enough that we got the offer and it seemed like a great move for us. And Zack [Zarrillo] and Thomas [Nassiff] are really smart dudes and they’ve been really helpful and so has Emily who’s been helping us with PR. So it’s been a great fit and we’re really grateful that we got that offer from them.
What made you work with Jesse Cannon for the Sorry, Not Sorry EP initially?
LD: Basically how we decided on Jesse was we were picking studios, like I know a lot of people tend to pick friends and stuff like that, but we wanted something that we liked so we just listened to a bunch of records… So we met with a bunch of people and Jesse seemed really interested and he helped us out. I consider us to be really lucky because we just kind of stumbled upon Jesse by chance. Like there were other people that we reached out to and we just got the best vibe with him. He’s been such an important part of this band anywhere from helping us to create the song and he’s been a real mentor to us and I don’t think we’d be as far as we are without him.
MK: I definitely consider him to be so much more than a producer. Like I’ve known him for over a year now I consider him a friend of mine. Whenever I don’t know what to do with situations with the band and I need advice, I just text him and he gets on the phone with me and chats. He even helps me word emails that I need help with. He’s a fantastic mentor and an amazing person and we love him.
I saw that Courtney Barnett and Desaparecidos were some of Madison’s favorite records this year, do you see yourself channeling that heavier punk sound in future records?
MK: Oh, absolutely. The EP was the first time I’d ever written a song so it was a huge learning process for me whereas with the LP that we have coming out, I have some more experience under my belt and I knew how to express the sounds that I wanted. I think the type of music that I listen to will come across a lot more just because I’ve gotten better with songwriting and I know how to express what I want to the rest of the people in my band. I’m really stoked on it.
LD: I think about it being heavier, this LP that’s coming out, people have described as more aggressive than our EP because when you see us live, a lot of people are like, “Oh, you guys are much more punk than the record.” I think on the record you’re going to hear a lot more of that loud music for sure.
What’s 2016 going to look like for ROMP?
LD: In January we’re doing a tour starting on the sixth and we’re going away for 13 days… We’re going to be writing more music and then very early March, like the first week, the record is going to come out—I don’t think they’ve announced the date yet—but the record’s going to come out and we’re going to try to do a record release weekend and stuff like that. Then we’ll see where it goes from there. We’ll try to have a lot of weekenders where we go out as far as we can and then once the summer hits we want to tour.
MK: I think we’re hoping once the record comes out in March things will pick up pace. We love this band more than anything else in our entire lives and we want to be doing this as much as we can.
ROMP will be performing at AK-47 in Deal, NJ on Jan. 6, the Mantua Yacht Club in Philadelphia on Jan. 15 and at Nowhere USA in New Brunswick on Jan. 18. Their most recent release, Sorry, Not Sorry, is available through Bad Timing Records. For more information go to rompistight.bandcamp.com.