On a mid-October afternoon, I took a walk in the park outside the Masquerade with Anti-Mortem guitarist, Nevada Romo. I had met the band earlier this year and was really looking forward to spending a little time talking one on one, as well as seeing them on stage again. They had caught my eye and my ear during the earlier performance at the Masquerade. I remember being very impressed with the presence and the sound this band as they opened for Texas Hippie Coalition back in March. Since that time, I had become a fan of their music and was eager to take in another dose of their dirty southern sound.
HHM: How did Anti-Mortem come together as a band?
Nevada: That is a very complicated story. It’s a very long story, so I’ll try to get to the gist of it. We were children in a small town and we all grew up together as friends. Some of us were in different areas and Anti-Mortem had started with a different drummer, myself and my brother. We founded the band when we were a bit younger, but with different principles, sounds, and songs and things like that. I’d say we were about 11 or 12 years old. I moved and met Zane. Zane and Corey had been best friends for a very long time and then this all started going I’d say between middle school and high school we got to know each other and started making music and all that stuff. We did talent shows, shows around town, and rented venues. We started playing the local scene up in Oklahoma City over the course of five or six years. So basically, I guess, just being kids in school and growing up around each other.
HHM: I’ve read that you guys used to play in a barn in Oklahoma.
Nevada: We still do.
HHM: You still do?
Nevada: Yeah, that’s where we practice for our gigs
HHM: How would you say that shaped the Anti-Mortem sound?
Nevada: I’ve never said this before, but it just kind of came to mind just coming out to the east coast. The spots there are small. Like everything’s small, there is not much space and to me the big amount of space gave birth to a really big idea for us. I think the environment was just really nurturing.
HHM: Who or what would you say has had the greatest influence on you musically?
Nevada: That’s a hard question. It changes from day to day. Neil Young, John Frusciante, Joe Walsh, Ted Nugent, Neal Schon, Pepper Keenan, you know a little bit of everybody.
HHM: I pick up a heavy blues influence in your sound. That was something we were discussing on the way here. I was wondering where that sound comes from?
Nevada: I am a huge Peter Frampton fan. God, I love Frampton and Humble Pie, I love Humble Pie. That is me personally; at the same time I could say that all of us have our thing. Zane is into Metal. We all have a fair respect for each other’s taste in music. It is not unusual at all to see us listening to 20 different Rap CD’s that we have in our stuff. Just like last night on the way here we were listening to, um, damn it, what’s his name. Jimmy Rogers? You know; (singing) trailers for sale or rent….
HHM: King of the Road
Nevada: Roger Miller, yeah, that’s it.
HHM: From your vocal style, to guitar shuffles with a heavy edge, a lot of the songs on New Southern have a bluesy element to them that really works well. Who, within the band, was the inspiration behind this sound?
Nevada: Within the five of us? I’d say we all have a similar love for that kind of a feel, but we each bring it in our own way. As far as externally, I’d have to say just growing up in Oklahoma, the South, you know. My Grandpa gave me my first guitar. He used to open for Johnny Cash a long time ago. We all kind of grew up in that. Jerry Lee Lewis was Zane’s first concert. We were all really close with our families growing up and our parents and grandparents had that eclectic taste for music. The Blues is the birth of all music, you know.
HHM: Anti-Mortem seems to thrive on being live on stage, what has been your greatest moment on stage so far?
Nevada: Every night. Whatever the current night is, it’s great to be there. I mean Aftershock was fun, but even then if we really define the quality of your day and career by what show you are playing, then it’s going to be a disappointment sometimes. I think the current moment requires all of my ability to pay attention to it so that I can always give it my best.
HHM: After this tour with Butcher Babies you are set to head to Europe for a run there. Is this Anti-Mortem’s first European Tour?
Nevada: Yes it is. We were supposed to go to Download last year but some stuff happened and it didn’t work out so this will be our first time over there.
HHM: What are you looking forward to most?
Nevada: The fact that we’ll have a bus. It’ll be nice not having to worry about getting ourselves there. I’m very much interested in Anthropology and Philosophy and things like that so it will be interesting to see other people’s cultures, the way they live their lives, the food they eat. It’s like Machinehead’s merch guy, Pondo, he’s from Milan, Italy and to hear their reflection on World War 2 and other international events is very interesting. Their perspective is a lot different than ours and you tend to find that out the more you talk with people that live in the international community rather than just here in the states.
HHM: It takes a lot to go from performing in a barn in Chickasaw, Oklahoma to heading out on a European Tour, what advise do you have for aspiring bands that are trying to breakout?
Nevada: Be careful. I think what you hear and see and what is actually going on and what you really get is two different things, good or bad. I think I have learned a lot in the last couple of years, especially this last year of touring, I have learned a lot. Just be careful. Trust your gut, not the guts of other people.
HHM: What would you say is the greatest challenge facing bands today?
Nevada: My answer for this today will change tomorrow (laughing), so let me think about what I am trying to say here. It’s a very valid question. I think there are a couple of things. This is basically my whole inner battle, speaking about file sharing and things like that. It’s like yes it’s a bad thing, but, in my opinion, I do feel it is a bit liberating to the music and I think it bases the principles off the music and less off of marketability and money and more onto the fact that it’s not about that anymore. If you can’t make a song or be a band that develops your own thing based on your own principles you won’t make it, because there is no network to rely on anymore as there once was. Records do not sell as they once did. People just do what they do because accessibility is beyond what it once was. That being said, it helps the fans out and it helps me out as a listener, so I feel like it can also be a good thing. I think the challenge is to relook at the model. I think we have to find out where we, as musicians can still survive and make a living. I’m not out to make a decadent living by any means, but I would like to be able to pay my bills, sustain myself, and be able to send some money back to my family. At the same time, I do realize that everyone is going through that right now. Times are hard for everybody.
HHM: Are you guys working on any new material for the follow up to New Southern while you are touring, or is that a wait until the time is right type thing?
Nevada: We have so much. To make the last album, we probably pulled those songs out of about 150 songs. I’ve got like a hundred on my computer. Zane probably has another hundred on his. We are writing pretty much every day. We’ve got records we haven’t released. We have more material than we know what to do with.
HHM: Do you have any kind of timeframe you are looking toward?
Nevada: No, not at all. We had talked a little bit. The problem with us is not necessarily the material, I think we need to take some time to listen, because we are in the process of putting things together for the next record, but we aren’t talking about it with management, they aren’t talking about it with us, but we are looking at it. I want to write Stairway. I want to write Master of Puppets. I want a song that will rekindle in the way that it used to be at one point and I don’t think we’ve written it yet. I was reading Neil Young in Rolling Stone where he was talking right before he put out Tonight’s the Night, that’s my favorite Neil Young record. I love that record. He was just talking about how it didn’t make the cut for him in certain ways and I think looking back he would probably say differently now. So I am sure I’ll look back on our career in the future and think the same thing. Right now we are writing, and believe me it’s on our minds a lot.
HHM: This is a question I ask of everyone I interview. If you had the chance to perform for just one show with any musician living or dead, who would it be?
Nevada: That’s such a hard question man. You know what, Neil Young. I take that back, that was a no brainer for me because I love Rock n Roll and all of its decadence. I think that its downfall is all that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anything bad against drinking and all that shit, you know, do whatever the hell you want to, but at the same time I think basing a life off of it, when you trade yourself for the symbols of yourself, you’re going to become empty. I think Neil is one of those guys that when you look at his career and the people that followed after him, the artists that came in his wake, you know, like Pearl Jam, they are one of the bands that he was real close with. He made some good moves and he was smart. To me, when it came time to get out, he got out of it. His music was honest and that is what I like. I like honest music, no matter how good the quality of his voice was. His voice may have been a bit shaky here and there, but I don’t give a fuck, I like it.
HHM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nevada: Go watch live music. That is the death of us right now is not watching the live music.
For More Information:
- Anti-Mortem live at Masquerade in Atlanta show review and photos
- photos: Anti-Mortem live in Hell at the Masquerade
- Anti-Mortem release detail on new album 'New Southern'
- Anti-Mortem launch Signed Chicago Flame Guitar Giveaway
- Butcher Babies release cover EP 'Uncovered' kick off headline tour
- Interview with singer/songwriter Big Jaye Nelson