w/ Anuhea & Rock Paper Dynamite
Thursday, November 8th - 9pm
TICKETS: $18 at the door
On the title track to his debut EP Dedication, Rome Ramirez tells the bittersweet and gut-punching tale of a beloved girl lost to addiction. Wielding his silky-sweet yet deeply powerful vocals, Rome – as he simply goes by – launches into “Dedication” with the lyric “I can taste the gin and oxy on your lips” just before the song morphs from a tender piano ballad to guitar-fueled powerhouse. Weaving his gritty poetry with breakneck strumming and pummeling beats, the 24-year-old singer/guitarist/songwriter instantly reveals himself as a musician of fearless honesty and boundless passion.
“‘Dedication’ is the song that sparked this whole project and set the tone for the entire EP,” says Rome. “I really believe in being 100 percent personal and honest with my songwriting. So in my songs I’m telling you everything—what I’m drinking, what I’m smoking, who I’m talking to. Every song is like a page out of my diary.”
The four-track Dedication EP showcases Rome’s uncommon penchant for pairing his gutsy, soul-baring lyrics with breezy melodies and a genre-warping diversity of sound. Made in collaboration with A-list producers and songwriters like fun. frontman Nate Ruess, Jeff Bhasker (Jay-Z, Kanye West, fun.), Benny Blanco (Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa), Robopop (Lana Del Rey, Gym Class Heroes), and The Futuristics (The Lonely Island feat. Justin Timberlake & Lady Gaga), the EP also elegantly blends larger-than-life beats and reggae-inspired flourishes with guitars that swing from scorching electric riffs to graceful acoustic strumming.
“With my solo work, I wanted to step out and evolve as a musician by pushing into new directions,” says Rome, who also serves as frontman for ska-punk band Sublime with Rome. Along with the soaring vocals and wistful whistling of “Dedication,” the EP features the salsa-tinged sway and gently pulsing beats of “Seasons.” The sweetly anthemic kiss-off “Hung Up,” meanwhile, backs its sweeping harmonies with a fierce rush of guitar. And rounding out Dedication is “Oz of Love,” a beachy, blissed-out ode that, not so subtly, showcases Rome’s knack for double entendre (“I want to breathe you in…can I get an ounce of love”).
Despite the lush arrangements and rich, urban-flavored soundscape throughout Dedication, Rome is quick to note that the EP is wholly built on well-crafted songs and hooky melody. “For me, what’s most important is that a song can stand on its own even without all the production elements,” says Rome. “If you can strip it down to just acoustic instruments and vocals and it still sounds amazing, then that’s a great song.”
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Rome grew up on artists ranging from Bob Marley and Bad Brains to The Temptations and Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana and N.W.A., thanks to his family’s wildly eclectic tastes in music. “My parents listened to the exact opposite stuff – my dad liked rap, reggae, and punk rock, and my mom was totally into Top 40 and Motown,” Rome explains. “I always feel like I got the best of both worlds.”
After starting to play guitar when he was 11 years old, Rome was hooked, later adding bass, drums, and piano to his repertoire. “All I wanted to do was play. It was probably the worst day for my mom because I just started going really downhill at school,” Rome laughs. “But I also started getting pretty good with music.”
Rome’s talent continued to grow, but he was struggling in other parts of his life. Music was an escape in many ways, and, eventually, he began writing his own songs. “At that point, I was having a lot of trouble with school and feeling like I wasn’t living up to people’s expectations,” Rome relates. “And just being able to put these thoughts in my head down on paper, it was the most amazing therapy for me. It felt right and I knew I was never going to stop doing it.”
Rome’s musical ventures led him to Southern California and a chance meeting with Sublime bassist and co-founder Eric Wilson. Wilson was immediately struck by the young musician’s passion and talent, and shortly thereafter Sublime with Rome was formed. In 2010, Rome scored his first commercial success collaborating on the Dirty Heads’ #1 single “Lay Me Down” – a song he co-wrote and provided guest vocals on. A year later, Sublime with Rome released their album Yours Truly, featuring many of Rome’s early compositions including the band’s top 5 hit “Panic.” Touring nearly non-stop, Rome found the time to write and record Dedication as well as material for a forthcoming full length.
“I’m really inspired by artists with a real drive and a solid work ethic,” says Ramirez. “People like Iggy Pop, who just keep going and going—they’re so talented at what they do and they work by instinct and they just can’t stop. There’s something in that keeps them moving, and they end up leaving a real mark on people.”
When creating his own music, Ramirez first and foremost keeps that push for longevity in mind. “With Dedication and the album, my main goal was to make something that would stand the test of time so I’d be proud to hear it years down the road, as an old man,” says Ramirez. “Something that’s not all bells and whistles, that’s relatable and real and uplifting but totally honest. That’s the kind of music that lasts forever.”