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Catchy Riffs, Tempestuous Words: An In-Depth Talk with Romcom Victims

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Romcom Victims have only been on the Buffalo scene for a short while, with their first single ‘Lizzie Mcguire’ released in 2023 and their follow up EP, ‘Pilot,’ released late February of this year. Yet, with only a handful of songs, Romcom has been making a name for itself. 1120 Press spoke with the band to see who they are and what they’re about. And we know they’re joking about an energy brand deal with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but also, hopefully, they’re not… Romcom Victims is: Alex Squier, bass; Bella Celeste, vocals; Joey Porth, drums; and Nathan Weise, guitar. Note — Answers below are attributed to the band collectively. — Photos Provided.)


1120 PRESS: What’s going on guys? So, let’s start at the beginning. Before even releasing Pilot EP and your 2023 single, Lizzie Mcguire, what were you guys up to? How did Romcom Victims come about? Have you always wanted to play together or was it more of a right place/right time kind of deal?

 

ROMCOM VICTIMS: It was a little bit of both when it came to playing together and being in the right place at the right time. Alex, Joey and Nathan had wanted to play together for quite a while, since the late 2000-teens, but due to an age gap and being in separate bands, it wasn’t feasible. Come around to 2023, Bella met Nate and the two of them started collaborating. That’s when Joey and Alex ended up being available for a project such as this, which is very lucky considering the two of them were very busy with school obligations; Joey in a demanding jazz program at Fredonia and Alex studying environmental sustainability at University of Buffalo.

 

1120: So, you get together, decide to get Romcom Victims up and running. Is there any meaning behind the band name or was it more of a Childish Gambino bit and had the Wu-Tang Clan name generator pick one out?

 

RV: There is actually an ethos to the band name and a couple different interpretations within the band. Bella says that the meaning is when you take a look at those who grew up watching romcom movies, they typically grew up as victims of unfair expectations in the world of love. Alex mentions that the victims of a romcom are those that are in the movies themselves, damned to repeat their story arcs over and over. At the end of the day, Romcom Victims as a name is up to YOU (the listener) to find the meaning in.

 

1120: On your Instagram bio, you’re self-described as girly music. What does girly music mean to you and where would you say Romcom pulls their inspiration from sound-wise? Not to pigeonhole you guys but obviously with any type of art, especially music, artists tend to seep into the next artist’s sound. When we first heard “In the Ground,” we couldn’t help but to think you guys took aspects of surf-rock, almost The Beach Boys kind of vibe and poured in emo and punk, especially lyrically. Truthfully that’s kind of a sound we weren’t expecting but it works so well.

 

RV: 'Girly Music' was meant to be used as an empowering sort of a thing. Usually girly is seen as a diminutive but we take it and wear it as a badge of honor. When it comes to "In the Ground” the guitar work was most inspired by guitarists such as Johnny Marr, Chet Atkins and Roger McGuinn, known for their jangle sound. Alex (bass) drew heavily from the indie-rock tradition and Joey, as always, brought that jazz vocabulary with a rock and roll energy. All of these elements, paired with Bella’s harmonies and angsty lyrics definitely land the song really close to what you described in terms of sound. The comparison to The Beach Boys is very interesting, it’s one we haven’t heard before but it makes a lot of sense considering the mix of elements we have landed on!

 

1120: Let’s get into the EP, cleverly named by the way, Pilot EP. You guys released it on February 22, a great way to start 2024 for you guys; congratulations on that. Who did you guys work with on the EP and how long was it in the works for?

 

RV: Believe it or not, we actually self-produced and recorded at Nathan’s studio “Sycamore Sounds.” The EP was in the works for about 3 months from initial tracking, to putting a bow on the masters and artwork, done by our very own Alex Squier, who happens to be an artistic genius/guru.

 


1120: Getting into the EP, we want to take a closer look at “In the Ground” which

has such a jovial sound and the guitar riff is incredibly catchy. We just immediately see a crowd full of people two-stepping along. Yet, lyrically you are pissed off as your anathematic chorus goes: “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you” and then later on you’re calling them out and singing, “do yourself a favor and don’t hold your breath.” What was the inspiration for “In the Ground”? The juxtaposition of an upbeat song with vitriol lyrics is clear here. Was that done on purpose?

 

RV: The mixture of vitriolic lyrics and upbeat jovial instrumental backing is something that has appealed to multiple members of our ensemble. Nathan loves The Smiths who are known for this with the collaboration of Morrissey and Marr. Bella is inspired by Jack Antonoff, who similarly is known for catchy pop anthems with tempestuous attitude on the lyrics end. Adding in the almost funk-adjacent bass chops of Alex and the jazz influenced drums of Joey mixed in with a punk vibe, it was a simple equation of adding it all together to get the sound of “In the Ground.”

 

1120: “In the Ground” we feel like kind of sets the tone of the EP. Other songs like “Smile!” seem to carry that tone of disgust with someone as you sing “I will throw you out the window… I’ll smile.” Yet, gears kind of flip on the following track “R U Mad” citing that feeling of lying awake at night wondering if that person is actually mad at you or not. With these feelings of hate and insecurity sprinkled throughout the EP, would you say, and correct us if we’re wrong, that is kind of the overall theme here?

 

RV: The intended attitude behind “R U Mad?” is actually tongue-in-cheek when asking the titular question (picture a troll face, or the SpongeBob bird face). Other than that, the theme of this release isn’t necessarily about one person, but different types of people and how they make others feel. In this case we do indeed hate the types of people written about here, the ones that make us feel small, unloved or disregarded. Then, at the end, when we come to “Janus” the mirror flips towards the author (Bella) and we examine the fluctuating emotional climates that the author herself goes through, underlining the dynamics of navigating interpersonal strife.

 

1120: Let’s take a break talking about the EP and get into the scene here in Buffalo. As a female fronted band, what would you say that means to you? Not just in Buffalo, but the overall music scene: Do you find it more difficult finding your footing, especially in a male-dominated genre? What would you say, or, what’s your message to the punk girls out there that maybe want to break their way into the scene, whether it be musically or just in general?

 

RV: Although the scene is absolutely male dominated, the Buffalo music scene has, in more recent years, been very supportive of one another. In the past, it was men supporting men, but now we do see more men supporting women as evidenced by the fact that we have had no shortage of gig offers — more often than not from all-male bands. To those punk girls who want to get out there, if it’s your dream, go for it but give yourself grace when it comes to building confidence and getting access to the resources necessary to participate in a music scene in a meaningful way. Bella grew up watching her dad’s woman-led-band and was inspired by that positive role model, so taking inspiration from those working in the scene can be key in building your own confidence. She also mentions that she was never on stage to this capacity until the age of 26, so in essence, give yourself time, hold your passion closely, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.


1120: The band as a whole, how do you feel about the scene here in Buffalo? There’s always been a big scene here, but it feels like we’re getting… we don’t want to say back on the map because we were never necessarily off but radars are seeing Buffalo again. Goo Goo Dolls helped put us on the map, even now defunct Every Time I Die and more recently Super American, but it seems as though people are paying attention again. Why do you think that is?

 

RV: I would say the younger folks who weren’t quite old enough to participate in the scene when COVID was going on had a very claustrophobic experience of being trapped at home and came into the scene with a lot of energy and excitement to contribute and to make their mark on what we would consider a lively scene. This inoculation of this energy has driven the scene with exciting new acts that have definitely been giving more horsepower to the Buffalo music scene. Another aspect is that there is a huge desire for original music in what feels at times like a sea of cover bands (there is nothing wrong with cover bands!) This desire for original music and the newer acts eager to provide it has created a wonderful feedback loop that is driving the scene.

 

1120: Who are some of your current favorite bands from Buffalo?

RV: TTTT, Velvet Bethany, Johnny and the Man Kids, Clump, Jupiter Trolley.

 

1120: Before we slowly start to wrap up here, let’s get back to the EP. Who did the album cover for the EP? We absolutely love the palindrome-esque of RCV instead of VCR. That was incredibly clever. Was that part of the artists idea, or did you guys go in with that idea already? What’s the reasoning behind the name, Pilot EP? As we know, when a new show starts, it’s tradition for the first episode to always be called “Pilot.” Will that theme be kind of carried out in the next releases or is it more of a tease as what’s to come next?

 

RV: Since the artist was one of our members (Alex, as previously mentioned), we didn’t have to pay a dime which is awesome because we are poor! But even more awesome than that is the fact that we were able to intimately think-tank on the artwork. (We) bounced many ideas off each other and ended up with the ultimate concept of Pilot, referenced as an episode, as the paper airplane and as a physical television unit. Alex specializes in mixed media, so we knew it was going to come out super awesome and unique, and even with high expectations we were blown away. As for carrying on the theme (which you totally nailed), we probably will move on from this moment artistically, but it will always be a part of our journey.

 

1120: Pilot EP is out in the world, what comes next for you guys? What can we expect from Romcom Victims in 2024 and what would you like to see for yourselves in 2024, and beyond?

 

RV: We would like to release a line of energy drinks and partner up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, we have been messaging Mark Cuban every night for some money. In addition, we are looking to release a “double-sided single” very soon! Since our guitar player, Nate, is going away this summer for an internship, our momentum will be halted for a short while, but we plan on getting right back on the horse when he returns.

 

1120: Alright, that should do it on our end. Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us and we’re excited to see what the future has for you. Are there any final words or thoughts you want to say before we finish up?

 

RV: We have some gigs coming up: Eclipsapalooza on April 7 at Daredevil Records in Niagara Falls, and April 11 at Mohawk Place! Thank you for such thoughtful interview questions, we had fun answering them!

 

 

 

 

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