This North Texas band delivers exactly what it sounds like
By Sarah Badran
I caught up with local Dallas indie band The Roomsounds at one of its favorite watering holes where the group first got its start at The Free Man in Deep Ellum. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by four gentlemen who all had long locks past their shoulders that could make any female jealous and almost seemed plucked right out of a 60s-era movie.
I instantly was intrigued.
Live music was playing all around us which set the mood right for what was going to be an incredible ride into this band’s rock-n-roll journey.
Its name derives from an old music term which lead singer Ryan Michaels, 28, explained as “originally an old production term, generally tied to drum sounds where overhead mics will pick up everything so if you are playing live in a room it captures all the music together at once. It was the idea of capturing all the music at once and it also comes right after The Rolling Stones and the record store so we thought it was fucking genius.”
The band’s history started in Connecticut where Michaels and lead guitarist Sam Janik first met at the tender age of 10. They grew up together, practically streets apart, but were instantly connected by their passion for music. They first began playing around with punk rock then eventually went on to developing a blues, country, folk and rock infusion to challenge them. As huge Beatles fans, the one word they use to describe their music is “timeless.”
In later years, the band added drummer Dan Malone, who lived a town over, and eventually discovered bassist Red Coker after switching their base to Texas. Coker’s red hair instantly made him recognizable as the band’s token ginger.
Michaels, Janik and Malone initially moved from New York to Los Angeles for the good weather and eventually to Texas in 2008, only partially for the central location.
“I suppose it was on the Warped Tour when I became disillusioned with everything going on around me,” Michaels said. “We were all around 21 years old playing to 16 year old girls in neon skinny jeans and the charm was wearing off quickly. Over the 30-plus dates on that tour we listened to a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits record over and over in the van and just became obsessed. There was a sincerity to the music that seemed much more fresh and appealing.
“From there we began to dig deeper into roots/Americana music and a lot of classic rock. By the time we got home from the tour I remember thinking to myself a lot about how I wanted a fresh start. I knew that as a songwriter I wanted to make music that stood the test of time. I wanted to make music I could be proud of in 25 years; to have an actual career. So we decided to start over in Texas. We came to learn first-hand about blues, country and rock and I’m really glad we did.”
Michaels described the initial move as a culture shock. The band, however, embraced the Texan “y’all” a couple years ago and claim the move was “something great for our mental health,” Michaels said. “We are able to make a living as musicians which is all you could really ask for. We get to do what we love.”
In their five years together, members of The Roomsounds have experienced their fair share of the indie music struggle. But by bringing true music back to the forefront, they have been able to blaze into 2015 with much-deserved attention surrounding their new album.
This year already has shown to be promising starting with a live recorded performance with a crew of local music champions for a Chevy Music Showcase episode featuring latest single “Lay My Head Down.” It’s a tune describing the healing power for rock n’ roll.
Simplicity in sound is why the band commonly is compared to a modern day Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, for well-written songs that capture a peace of mind like that of a nursery rhyme.
Showing significant growth from The Roomsounds’ self-entitled album released in 2012, the band is ready to debut a new, currently untitled album slated for a May release. The older album was “basically a party that we recorded live…that was it,” Michaels said. “On this new album we spent more time in pre-production, arranging the songs and we have grown as players tremendously from touring and playing live so much…you just get better!”
The Roomsounds had the honor of entirely recording the new album in Muscle Shoals, Ala., at the world famous FAME Studios after being invited by Rodney Hall, son to the studio’s founder. The album was produced by Beau Bedford, a local producer who’s worked with the likes of Larry g(EE), Kirby Brown, Dovetail and Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights.
Brief history lesson: FAME Studios is the home of many a gold record-housing top recording of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Cher, The Black Keys and many more.
With big shoes to fill, The Roomsounds embraced the opportunity by capturing the essence the rock kings laid before to deliver an album of classically-inspired hits from start to finish that is able to switch from different sounds and influences with ease.
“On this record, each track has its own little lover, its own spotlight,” Michaels said.
Watching the band of brothers perform live, one can sense every detail of their story coming to life. You can immediately see how their history inspires what they do from the way they move to the wisdom in their words. No verse sounds unauthentic, but rather a homage to their own story and the roots of rock and roll which consumes them.
After a couple of jams, I found myself not at a bar but just in a room, a room where music surrounded me. The normal chattering noises of a bar was drowned out by the drums, bass and melodies created by The Roomsounds. I could hear the passion as every detail of the music flowed through my veins and for any music lover this is called bliss. For me, it was an opportunity to let go and dance, which is exactly what I did.
Grabbing the hand of a random stranger, I felt consumed to dance when I realized looking around I was in the company of true music lovers, my people, as everyone in the bar stood up and joined along and danced the night away.
This year is sure to be a busy one for The Roomsounds following the release of the new album. The band even has a few (unofficial) stops at this year’s SXSW in mid-March. Keep up with the group’s journey this year through its perspective social media sites including theroomsounds.com.