INTERVIEW: Romeo Dance Cheetah

How would you classify your sound?

I might consider it some type of musical fruit. Consuming it is a lot of fun and most people smile while doing it, but it’s best in small doses otherwise you’ll get indigestion. Either way, class is not a word I’m used to hearing.

Who are your all-time or current top 5 musical influences?

In alphabetical order by first name… David Bowie, David Byrne, Dave Grohl, David Hasselhoff and Dave Davies. David Bowie because he created these amazing personas and worlds both audibly through his music and visually on stage and on film. Plus, his package looks great in the movie Labyrinth. I dove deep into David Byrne after reading his book “How Music Works” and was totally inspired by his philosophy on how music is crafted based on the environment it will be experienced in. I was late to the game getting into Talking Heads, but watching their live concert movie “Stop Making Sense” put me over the edge. Again, Byrne tells incredible visual stories. Dave Grohl just rocks. He was also a drummer turned front man and so am I. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as big as The Foo Fighters, but if Dave Grohl ever listens to one of my songs I will die a happy man. David Hasselhoff because he can sing, dance and act. He is the ultimate entertainer and a good person. He spent his entire life saving people. He was a doctor, a guy who talked to a car and saved people, lifeguard and most importantly in Germany he saved people through his music. Also, Kung Fury is fucking great! Dave Davies because of that distorted Kinks sound baby, love it.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I want them to take a break and have a laugh. It’s a break from all the intense and extreme bitter ranting on social media, the shitty comments people lob carelessly into the internet, the hatred, the fighting, the super politicized arguments and even a break from something real and difficult that’s going on in their lives. I see the need to balance all the super serious bickering with super silly play. And if they’re really feeling me, maybe even play dress-up, throw on a sparkly outfit and sing along in front of the mirror with me.

How’s the music scene in Chicago?

To use a quote from one of LA’s most famous rappers, Jake Paul, “It’s everyday bro!” What I love about Chicago is that there is music and art happening around every corner and every day of the week. I live in Logan Square/Bucktown area and can walk to a bunch of my favorite spots. I like Cole’s or Empty Bottle to see my fave local bands like Celine Neon or The Gold Web. The Double Door is a staple & Lincoln Hall has the best sound. I go to Reggies on the Southside to get a little metal/punk fix.There’seven a badass Monday night thing called Salonathon at Beauty Bar to see crazy talented singers, comedians, dancers…etc. It’s always awesome and always packed; which is crazy for a Monday when people just want to watch Netflix and fall asleep. Oh, and Taco Tuesdays at Lazos Tacos with the Mariachi band… not too shabby my friends.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing out?

Best concert has to be Nine Inch Nails while on mushrooms. I love Trent Reznor’s visual aesthetic, especially at the live shows. When I saw them (this was before Tupac showed up as a hologram at Bonnaroo), they had an amazing light setup and used a lot of interesting video of animals in slow motion to bring out the mood of the music… I mean maybe it was just the mushrooms?

My favorite thing about playing out as Romeo Dance Cheetah is watching the look on people’s faces as they go through a series of thoughts and emotions. Here’s how most people who’ve never heard of me react… 1. “What the hell?!” 2. Is this guy serious or joking? 3. I think he’s serious maybe… 4. No, I think he’s gotta be joking. 5. Who cares, this is fun!

We have a feeling we know the answer already, but just in case…Is there a song onMagnificent Man that stands out as your personal favorite?

My favorite song is “Living the Dream” which is the last song on the album. Even though there’s a wolf howl and a hawk screech in the song, it’s probably the most serious song with a serious theme. It’s about going out and living your dream and being a part of something bigger than just yourself. And it’s a ballad. “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger, “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men…all of them give me chills… all of them epic ballads.

How do you balance having such a silly persona, but wanting your art to be taken seriously?

It’s actually quite easy because I generally don’t care what anyone thinks about me or even my art. I’ve found that in life, I am not happy unless I am creating silly. So, I will create silly whether others take it seriously or not. It’s true that I do want my stuff to be heard and seen by others, but how they react is out of my control. I focus 0% of my thought and feelings on that part and 100% on the insanely fulfilling process of creating…even if it’s silly.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Shania Twain because it would make my mom the happiest woman ever to live. She’s a huge fan of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and I think if we co-wrote “Woman! I Feel Like a Man”, performed it live and had a nice dinner at Red Lobster with my mom…it would pay her back for all the support she gave me as a child. My mom constantly supported every creative thing I ever did, put up with my band practices every day in the basement and laughed at every joke. The least I can do is co-write a song with Shania.

What’s next for Romeo Dance Cheetah? Full band tour?

After our album release show in Chicago, we’re headed down to St. Louis in support of the Ukulele Kids Club. They support music therapy programs and gift ukuleles to sick children to learn how to play. We’re going to play two benefit events and I’m going to promote their cause and mission more and more. Beyond that… I just want to rock baby.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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