San Diego’s The Burning of Rome makes music using everything but the kitchen sink.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
There are more instruments used on The Burning of Rome’s forthcoming album With Us (to be released on Sept. 18), than there are cars in Jay Leno’s garage. In addition to the usual suspects – guitars, drums, bass, violins, mandolins and synthesizers – the five-some incorporates a host of obscurities like a theremin and stylophone, a pocket-sized synthesizer that uses a stylus to create tones. Then there are homemade innovations: an upright piano with thumbtacks on all the hammers, which creates a brash sound when a piano key is hit, a banjo strung with electric guitar strings, and an acoustic guitar with tin foil wound into the strings resulting in a surreal metallic resonance.
“There’s a lot of weird stuff on the record,” says singer/keyboardist Adam Traub. “It was a fun experimentation, which is kind of what we do.”
But the album isn’t one of those pretentious vanity projects; the songs are a fairly straightforward patchwork – Traub describes some of the tunes as throwbacks to Todd Rundgren ’70s pop – of psychedelic noise rock, pop ballads, goth and even a dollop of show tunes.
The pop punk “Cowboy Death Pop Star” is a fusion of Flaming Lips absurdity, spacey reverberated harmonies and Iggy Pop aggression. Traub screams most of the vocals through a megaphone.
“Genre wise, it bounces all over the place,” Traub says. “It’s a little bit like taking a rubber ball and throwing it in a tiny room. It goes everywhere. It’s fun to take the older vintage synthesizers and juxtapose it with some of the newer gear that we use.”
The mad scientists of music descend on Jose’s Underground Lounge on Saturday night and Traub assures that the songs translate well from the studio to a live setting, even though some tunes call for many more instruments than there are bandmembers.
“Everyone in the band is a multi-tasker and usually does more than one thing at a time when we play shows,” he says. “It’s important for us to give the audience what they expect after hearing songs recorded in the studio.”
In a live version of the circus-like “Hark, Ye Conquistadors!,” there’s so much going on up on the stage it’s almost hard to decipher who’s doing what. But one thing’s clear: The group is a machine well-oiled to deliver hypnotic orchestrations.
BURNING OF ROME and VULTURE KING perform 8pm Saturday, Aug. 11, at Jose’s Underground Lounge, 638 Wave St., Monterey. Free. 655-4419.