by Adelie Salagnac
“Classic roots rock ‘n roll doesn’t get enough recognition in today’s mainstream music scene, but The Roomsounds aim to bring back the genre on their sophomore record, Elm St.” said fellow That Music Mag contributor Lauren Rosier in her album review of The Roomsounds’ latest release. “The band is able to combine elements of roots rock ‘n roll, Americana, and folk music into a sound all their own.”
If there is one thing no one can argue about, it is that The Roomsounds definitely is a one-of-a-kind band. This lively, honest, and above all, crazy talented bunch of dudes are currently on tour, promoting the album. With their busy schedule, I still had the opportunity to have a nice chat with singer and guitarist Ryan Michael, to talk about living with your band mates, impromptu jam sessions and all included, making radio-worthy ballads, and kissing the New England snow goodbye.
The Roomsounds’ history has been a wild ride, from forming a band as teenagers, playing on Vans Warped Tour, to making the big move from New England to Texas, living in abandoned, beat-up rehearsal spaces with no heating whatsoever. The band, while still living together, thankfully now has a proper place to stay. Michael says: “We are all around each other all the time, so we absorb music together, and it really helps when we get into the room and start making music, because we are usually all on the same page. It makes it easy to schedule things when you know that everyone is around all the time. We can rehearse whenever we want to, we can always put out our guitars at four in the morning and jam. It makes it really easy to get tight and close. And we still don’t hate each others you know, so it’s all good!”
An interesting living choice that, for sure, shaped their sound and helped in the making of the album; Michael remembers: “The other day, one guy said ‘You guys move like you are ONE,’ he couldn’t believe it and asked if we were all brothers or something. ‘What is your deal, you are like, freaks!’. I thought that was a cool compliment actually. We just move like one unit.”
However, the band has not always been what it is today. After several years of being in a band “playing to 16-year-old girls wearing skinny jeans”, Michael decided it was time for a change. “It just got to a point where I started feeling like I just wanted to make more timeless music,” he says, “music I would be proud performing in 20 years. I think I was around 21 when that happened and I had kind of a ‘freak out’ moment: Now I want to make music that I feel good performing for a lifetime. I want to be remembered as a great songwriter.”
The band escaped its past and started over in Texas, a much needed fresh beginning for Michael, who wanted to immerse himself in the South, to be around the best blues and country players, which seemed to him more authentic than any of the things going on around them at that time. “It definitely made us better and I’m really glad we did it. Plus it’s a beautiful weather here; I got really tired of the snow in New England!”
A big, sun-drenched, back-to-the-roots move that definitely flipped things around for The Roomsounds. The result is a largely praised album, showcasing the incredible growth they went through over the past years, and affectionately named Elm St., after the place they played their first show at, in Dallas. “It’s the arty place where musicians, artists, and weirdos alike hang out and has maintained that vibe for many years. It’s said that blues greats like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lead Belly and Robert Johnson often walked the streets and played the night clubs.”
Recorded at FAME Studios, Michael looks back at the whole recording process and has nothing but good memories. The band had just as much fun recording, than they did walking around the studios: “We had a blast hanging out there, feeling all the good vibes. There are so many great singers and performers who came through there.”
“Every song was given the treatment,” he adds. “’Baby’s Got the Bluest Eyes’ is pretty different from the others; it has this ballad vibe. It was fun to record it. Production-wise, we approached it differently, because we normally just record live, as a rock band. Things got a little more interesting with this one with the arrangements.” He admits that he did not expect this ballad to be the one song being played on the radio – “Baby’s Got the Bluest Eyes” however got the success it deserved. “It takes more balls to bare your soul than to be loutd,” Michael comments.
Currently taking on the road their new songs, The Roomsounds are making a stop at World Café Live at the Queen on April 21st. Not only are they talented, Ryan Michael and, I’m sure of it, the guys of The Roomsounds, are also some of the friendliest, most energetic and genuine people I have had to chance of talking to – committed to staying true to their sounds, sincere and pure. Come see it for yourself. Tickets and info here.