Interview: Adam Traub of The Burning Of Rome
Adam Traub of The Burning of Rome
27 September, 2014
The Burning of Rome is new-age punk band that is fronting a punk revival of the likes the whole world needs to hear. Drawing it roots in southern California, the band consist of Aimee Jacobs (synth, vocals) from Fallbrook ,CA, Keveen Baudouin (bass, vocals) from Paris, France, Adam Traub (Vocals, Keys, Guitar) born in Los Anglese, Ca and raised in San Diego, Danny King (drums) from Barrio Logan, CA, and Joe Aguilar (guitar, vocals) from downtown San Diego, CA. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Adam Traub, front man, and got to know him and his art a little better.
Q: Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your history as an artist and producer?
Adam Traub: My name is Adam, I play keyboards and sing in The Burning of Rome. My history as an artist, I would say, was ever since I could crawl I’ve been crawling to a guitar, piano, or whatever. It was instinct it wasn’t really a choice. When people say why did you choose music, I always say “I didn’t, you know, music chose me.” Just by osmosis of getting in the music scene and playing in bands, I began to produce music, record a lot, working with other artist and collaborating with a lot of other people. I’m very fortunate to have found myself with this mix of people that are The Burning of Rome. We’ve been together for about seven years now and we hit the ground running. It’s been a great ride so far.
Q: So in regards to your newest album, Year of the Ox, released in May of this year, how would you contrast this album to your first LP, Wit Us, released two years prior?
AT: A huge difference was we collaborated with Paul Leary, of the Butthole Surfers, on the new album. He brought a lot of new ideas and concepts to this album that were a bit of a departure from the last album we did. There is a lot more live element of the band in this new record, where as the last one was solely a studio album. In this album we wanted to capture a lot of the energy that we have at the live performance because it is quite a spectacle when we perform live.
Q: In regards to all the energy you put into your shows, where do you derive all of the energy to put on such a presence on the stage?
AT: It goes back to the question “Why music?” It’s not a premeditated thing when you hit the stage. I was raised in San Diego, in the early 2000’s, with a hardcore scene out here with bands like Some Girls and Swing Kids and the Locust and a lot of the 31G record bands. Going to the Ché Café, a local punk rock collective hang out, hanging from the rafters and would lose my mind. So there is definitely a spirit of punk rock in this music, and granted I started to get further into music and started learning about bands like the Beatles or Todd Rundgren or Brian Eno and how they were willing to step out on a limb musically and take risks in their art. We tried to incorporate that into our sound. So we have the punk rock spirit with weird studio production.
Q: Who do you feel influences you and your music?
AT: There are a bunch of influences. Todd Rundgren is definitely a huge one for me. As I mentioned, Brian Eno is massive. John Cale, and a lot of punk bands, and I’m wearing a Buzzcocks shirt, I love the Buzzcocks. Black Flag, The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, those are all huge influences. Even going back to stuff like the Beach Boys, I also love. The classics have influence as well, even going literally to classic, getting into Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff. I feel like a lot of this journey with this project has been drawing from a wealth of influences. When I first picked up a guitar, obviously, I didn’t know how to play that well so by default you learn punk songs. Ok, but then you wonder what’s beyond this. Oh, Metal is a little bit more challenging, well I’ll learn a bunch of Slayer songs. Well what’s beyond that, Oh, they were influenced by this band called Led Zeppelin. Well, who influenced Led Zeppelin? Oh, Robert Johnson, ok, I’m going to learn some Robert Johnson songs, and you just keep going down the rabbit hole. You keep going further and further into history and finding more influences. There is so much music out there that I’m still finding it. I still have people coming up to me; “Have you heard of this crazy garage band?” That’s why we do it.
Q: Who would you say your music aims to influence?
AT: I was always one of those kids who felt like an alien that was beamed down to this planet, and couldn’t really find a place, clique, or scene. Music has always been my salvation, in that isolation. I feel like this music is a life raft for people that find themselves in that position. It lends itself to that type of audience because it is a little quirky, a little abstract, weird, tongue and cheek, and there is a lot of satire in it. There really aren’t any songs that are just about picking up chicks and going to the beach; there’s actual content there. That’s what mattered to me, and that’s what mattered to me as a kid growing up in the types of bands I was listening to were writing songs like that. That’s why I love and mentioned the Dead Kennedys; the lyrics, as whimsical and silly, as they could be profound in the message they were delivering. The same thing occurs with bands like Minor Threat and when they later turned into Fugazi. To a huge extent also, the Beatles, in their own right, had been doing the same thing, especially after the “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah…” stage. When you look at a lot of the lyrics John Lennon was writing, they’re dark and they’re profound. It puts the world into perspective, and puts your own life into perspective. That is a big part of this project for me, in that I don’t think we have a demographic we are looking for. We are looking for people who are searching for a world to go to, and I want to provide a world they can escape to.
Q: What genre would you consider your own music, if you had to label it?
AT: It’s really tough to pinpoint. I say that in all the interviews I’ve ever given, that’s the toughest question to answer. Every song has its own place in musical history that I’m trying to pay homage to. That’s what I do when I’m writing these songs. You know, it goes everywhere from The Jesus and Mary Chain to the Magnetic Fields to Devo to John Cage to just straight up punk. For a while, we deemed the genre of this project, as a quick and simple thing to say, Death Pop. We were calling it that because it showed the juxtaposition of the songs at their core, being very poppy and accessible, but the subject matter is very dark. It’s very much yin and yang with the composition and the arrangements, and just the way that we execute the songs live and in the studio. It seemed like a good fit to just call it Death Pop, but I’ve heard it be called everything from Jesus and Mary Chain doing a Spaghettic Western with Todd Rundgren. Somebody said it sounds like if Adam Ant did a collaboration with Mike Patton and Bach. Its really tough to describe, but at its core, it’s just music. It’s up to as a listener to interpret it, and they might like it or hate it, but we put it out there as a life raft. We’ll take you in and put you on our ship and fly you out to outer space, but if you don’t want to, that’s ok.
Q: What is your personal opinion on the broad topic of Art?
AT: Art is open for interpretation. You put it our in the world, and let them figure it out. Living in Los Angeles, I see it all the time where musicians are so desperate to get anybody to listen, and I get it too. It’s really tough so you want to try, but the emphasis on music gets lost in that. It not art at that point, when its being shoved down peoples throat. In the Hollywood sense of how people will hit the stage and shove flyers in your face and presale tickets, just hustling you. That’s not what its about. Just go home and practice. Hahahaha. Maybe that will get people to come to your show.
Q: Where can you see your music 10 years down the road?
AT: Eh, Who knows? I don’t even know if this planet is going to exist in 10 years. Hopefully it will be archived on an alien ship somewhere by the star Sirius, and another civilization will watch our shows on the holodeck. I mean the goal is to obviously have it resonate with as many eardrums that need it as possible. I mean we are doing that now. We tour a lot, and this year alone we’ve done the east coast, a few southwest tours, a few west coast tours, went down to Mexico. I think the next goal is to try and get further into the pockets of this country and overseas. We’ve gone to England before, but we want to extend that and start touring in various places in Europe. I’d like to get into the main circuit like France and Germany, which we have already started to plan for next year. It’s doable. I think as far as a goal of where else I’d like to get it to be to show it to a lot of my influences, if they are still around in 10 years. It would be great to just take a song and sit in a room with Brain Eno and ask him what he thinks about it. That would be a treat.
Keep an ear out for these guys because they will surely be sticking around in the music scene for a time to come. Any music, merchandise, tour dates, and more regarding the band can be found on the Burning of Rome’s website at: http://theburningofrome.com/.