Happy Mondays Interview Series: Lost Romance

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Lost Romance is (Band Members & The Instruments They Play): Gerry Perlinski – Lead Vocals, Guitars; Amine Smires – Drums, Backing Vocals; Dan Haag – Bass, Backing Vocals

We’re based out of: New Brunswick, NJ

The Story of Our Name: A friend of mine who lives on the Lower East Side was talking about how much New York City has changed since he’s lived there. There used to be so many mom and pop stores, businesses and just a great community. Now those places are slowly disappearing and being replaced by Citibank bikes and Starbucks. He mentioned how he was out one day recently and got his shoes shined by the guy on the street corner. He was talking about the lost art or lost romance of getting your shoes shined in New York City.  To me, rock n’ roll has become a bit of a lost art in this age of social media, iPhones and Buzzfeed lists.  So our goal as a band is to keep that craft alive and to show everyone out there that rock is not dead. That is has a heart and still bleeds all over the stage one city at a time.

Photo Credit: Lost Romance
Photo Credit: Lost Romance

Any new music coming out: We are wrapping up a new album right now called “Strum It Again”. We’ve recorded 8 songs, but may add a few more gems before we are done. Our goal is to have it released by Spring of 2015.

You’ve seen us before [in other bands]: The Astrojet, Jody Porter & The Black Swans, Benzos, Akasa, A Halo Called Fred, Butcher Knives

Our sound has been likened to: Husker Du, Bob Mould, Ryan Adams, The Thermals, The Replacements, Buffalo Tom, early punk-ish Goo Goo Dolls, Ted Leo

Can you talk about the artists that have inspired you? Also, what people in your life have inspired you to create music?: My biggest inspiration as a band has probably been Rush. Although you might not hear it in our music upfront, Rush inspired me to play guitar the way I do and to follow my own path musically. They are one of the few polarizing bands who either you got or you didn’t. But, what inspired me most about them is that they never changed who their were for the industry or anyone else for that matter. They just did whatever the hell they wanted and it worked. They were my first big concert with giant video screens, lasers and this fantastic stage set. That stuck with me and always will.

Another huge inspiration for me musically would be Bob Mould. As someone who got into alternative rock later on, I was completely blown away by the way he could convey such intense passion vocally, lyrically and musically. He wears his heart on his sleeve, but it’s never corny. It’s always badass and inspires me to this day.

As far as people in my life, I’ve had a few who’ve inspired me to create music. My uncle Pavel is a concert pianist and music professor in Poland who was classically trained, but was also a jazz pianist in the early 70’s. I remember looking at one of his psychedelic album covers from his group Jazz Carriers when I was a kid and thinking how cool he looked in that fish eye lens photo. It made me want to do my own thing musically at an early age and be cool like him. Another inspiration would be my uncle Teddy who when I was just learning how to play the guitar at age 10 let me borrow his old Kent electric guitar from the 60’s. It was so awesome with all these crazy knobs and dials and it made me dream big. It came with this guitar case that was also an amplifier.  He lent it me for a few years until I was able to buy my own electric guitar. It meant so much to me at an early age and I’ll never forget it.

Photo Credit: Lost Romance
Photo Credit: Lost Romance

Talk to us about the full length coming out. How is this going to stand out from the rest of your catalog? What excites you about this new record? Did you discover something about yourself as a performer or about this band while you were in the studio recording the record?: Our upcoming record “Strum It Again” will be our first full length. We’ve released two records previously, “Live At Great Scott” which was recorded live at the venue Great Scott in Boston in 2012 and our debut studio EP “The Light And The Dark” in 2013. The major difference between the first two records and our new one is that we recorded this one at our own studio in Jersey City, NJ on a four track cassette recorder from the 80’s.

It was originally an experiment to see what we can do with the limitation, but to our surprise (or maybe not?) it came out amazing! Dan researched drum mic placement and we recorded the drums with only two mics Bonham style.  The guitars were done quick and dirty as well with some old Ampeg amps. When you only have four tracks to work with, you can’t be all grandiose about it. It basically comes down to your talent as musicians. We’re a solid live band and I think it really shows in this recording. You can’t fake anything on an analogue recording in four tracks. You have to be in top form as a musician to make it happen. Most of the songs were done in one or two takes. I think we were able to do that because of our live experience on the road. We’ve been averaging about a 100 shows a year, so that stays with you when you get into the studio

What excites me about this record is that it was done so organically. We did it at Dan’s home studio and you can hear the energy of three guys sweatin’ it out in a basement vs. being coddled at a swanky, expensive studio. We learned that it doesn’t matter so much about the place where you record, but more about how we work together as a band and as players.  Would it have sounded just as good or better in an expensive studio? Maybe or maybe not. But, we know it’s our heart and soul on this record and it was done together, as a band.

There are so many bands out there in the Asbury scene to check out — what do you think separates Lost Romance from everyone else?: What separates us from everyone else is experience.  Over the years, we’ve been in bands that have been signed to indie labels and major labels so we’ve been through the machine. We’ve played to crowds of 10 to 10,000. We’ve toured the country and from the positive feedback we get at shows, we think we’re on to something special with this one. We are a no nonsense, hard working rock n’ roll band. Period. There are no tricks up our sleeves. That’s a rare commodity these days. Everyone wants so hard to be like some flavor of the week or compete with other local bands or get into some music competition on TV that they forget who they are as musicians or why they are in bands to begin with.  We’re not busy chasing rainbows. We’re too busy making music and winning over new fans.

If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what Lost Romance are all about?: I would have to say “(Looking For That) Silver Bullet” from our EP, “The Light And The Dark”. It’s short, rockin’ and has a big hook. It’s a nice slice of who we are as a band and what they can expect at a live show.

Photo Credit: Dani Renee Photography; Lost Romance
Photo Credit: Dani Renee Photography; Lost Romance

A bit of more broad, sweeping question — what is it that you love about being in Lost Romance?: What I love about being in Lost Romance is all the new places we get to play. We just recently did our first East Coast tour in October. It was 10 days from Jersey all the way down to Florida. We basically played every single night in a new state and a new city and sold out of our CDs. There’s nothing like making new friends and fans in places you’ve never been to. It never gets old.

What can the people coming out to see you guys perform expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience?: We always do our best to mix up our set lists, so you get a different show every time you see us. Dan is a bit of a set list guru, so he’s officially been given that task in Lost Romance. We want to take our audience on a journey, not just blast their ear drums. We also make sure to get them involved in the show somehow. Our last Philly show we had the entire room dancing to our songs and it’s such a great feeling to have them get into our set. We make it a point to connect with our audiences. I have a habit of calling people out that are on their cell phones in the audience. I like busting their chops because they think I don’t see them. But, I do and more often than not, they put it down and get into our show because they feel a bit embarrassed as they should. If you’ve paid to see a show, don’t spend it on your damn phone. Real life is happening right in front of you and you can’t replace the energy of being at a live show. It’s a one time event and if you miss it, it’s gone.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2014?: We are finishing up our new album and have a few clutch events in November and December. We’ll be doing two shows the week of Thanksgiving. We are doing the Happy Mondays event at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ on November 24th and The Bowery Electric in NYC on Black Friday, November 28th.  We’re also planning our next tour in support of the new album for the Spring. Our plan is to go from Jersey down the East Coast, then over to Austin, TX for South By South West, up to Michigan and back. It will be our biggest tour to date and we’re really excited about it.

Lost Romance will be performing at The Wonder Bar tonight, November 24.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites