February 16, 2013

Q&A With Daniel Romano, Playing Green Room Tonight

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Hailing from Ontario, Daniel Romano seems, well, anachronistic. From the twang found on his records to the paisley shirts he sports, Romano doesn’t look or sound like he’s from this century. Although Romano also works as a visual artist, he’ll be bringing his songs to town with him this weekend. Listeners of the canon of country-western will find that Romano’s tunes mimic not only the tear-in-your-beer lyrical content of greats like Gram Parsons and Hank Williams, but that the songs also include that same classic country instrumentation. Put on your cowboy boots for Romano’s set at Green Room tonight.

Flagpole: I understand that you’re also a visual artist in addition to being a musician. Do you consider yourself as an artist working in mixed media?

Daniel Romano: I never really put those things together, per se, in my mind. But, I guess I do do both of them. As far as I’m concerned, they’re totally different entities. One definitely fuels the other and I’m not even sure which fuels which. I’m sure it varies. It all leads into the same thing. I suppose I’m an enthusiast of a certain type of art—I guess Western art and things that come from it would be my passion—and the various mediums that could be affiliated with it.

FP: Your latest record, Come Cry With Me, harkens back to almost a golden age of country music. Were you born in the wrong decade?

DR: I’m just passionate about old things—I always have been my whole life. I don’t necessarily feel out of place. I definitely don’t feel like I have contemporaries. I hope that’s a blessing and not a curse. [laughs] I’m talking to you on an iPhone right now, but at the same time, ya know, I like old things. I have a big affection for old things.

FP: You’re from Canada. The music you play is often associated with the Western parts of the United States. It’s funny that you bring up the iPhone, so I want to ask: Is regionalism still important in the face of technological advancements?

DR: I think there definitely is [a regional component to music]. And country and western has been just as big of a part of Canada as it has America as long as it has existed. I know a lot of people probably don’t think that or know that, but I have records that would definitely prove otherwise. I’m sure there’s a [regional] component that’s been lost because of technology, but I’m sure there’s a lot more that’s been gained.

FP: You mentioned that you don’t have contemporaries. Are there any contemporary artists now that influence your music directly or that you find compelling?

DR: I think that what Brad Paisley does is cool. Other than that, I can’t really think of any contemporary country artist that really thrills me or sticks to the formula other than maybe Dwight [Yoakam]. Honestly, I’m not well-versed. And I have no qualms with new country because [it] makes sense to me. It’s just not really my jam.

FP: You used the phrase “the formula.”  Why is the formula so important? And what exactly is the formula?

DR: It’s a tradition. I’m not exactly sure what the formula is—you can just hear it or you can’t. There is a certain structure to songs that has become tradition in country-western and it’s changed and evolved and it changed into new country. It’s just not really to my taste. I feel like the songwriting isn’t up to the same caliber and that’s pretty well it. The distinction in singers’ voice and delivery is certainly different. It’s been popped-out of conviction. I just don’t really believe it. And that’s where I’m stand-offish toward it.

FP: You’re on Normaltown Records, which is based out of Athens. What has been your relationship to Athens as a result of being on Normaltown?

DR: Honestly, I’ve only been to Athens once but I immediately fell in love with it. We’re headed there today to spend the entire weekend, which we’re all very much looking forward to. I honestly don’t know enough about it other than that I love it dearly and I’m looking forward to loving it more. The south has components that we don’t have up north. We have beautiful landscapes and nice antique stores, but it’s not the same. It’s the heartland, it’s the motherland. You can’t help but feel the warmth, literally and metaphorically.

Daniel Romano plays Green Room Saturday, Feb. 16. 10 p.m., $5.