Art Wong: Friendship, ESL, and Romeo Radio

After re-posting my Crap Filter Greenwood piece, I decided to catch up with Art, the former lead singer.

For starters, how have you guys been? What have you been up to?

Well, after Greenwood broke up a couple of years ago Noel, our guitarist, and Tyler, bassist, moved back to Tennessee, while Jesse, Allan and I stayed up here in Maryland. In short, Jesse got a job a music store, I went back to teaching English as a second language to elementary school kids, and Allan eventually landed a job as an actuary (the guys who do the math for insurance companies). We sort of went all over the place job-wise, but we still kept in pretty close touch with each other. Jesse and I also joined up with a new church plant that we’ve become fairly involved in – I’ve been leading the music for them.

Let’s get this one out of the way early… what happened to Greenwood?

Tyler had made a decision to move back to Tennessee and for a while we went ahead and stayed with things. Noel did some pretty creative things with splitting his guitar signal and playing in two amps to balance out our sound. But things were starting to get frustrating. For whatever reason, we just were not getting the kind of traction we were hoping for. In the end, we decided to end the band before we spun into a terrible cycle of arguments and in-fighting resulting in all of us hating each other forever. So, it came down to a choice between Greenwood and our friendships. We chose our friendships.

Do you miss doing the Greenwood thing? Any new music projects?

I think I’m always going to miss Greenwood a little bit. We put a lot into that project: quitting our jobs and moving to the east coast, but I believe it was what it was for the time that we did it. Jesse, Allan and I are currently playing in a new band called Romeo Radio. Jesse’s brother-in-law, Eric, was living in his basement and just happened to also be a bass player. Jesse and I had been playing around with some new songs acoustically, and decided to bring in Eric and Allan to start a new band. Since we’ve all got full-time jobs (and I’m about to be a father!) things have been a little slow starting, but we’ll hopefully have at least an EP recorded in the fall and we’re starting to play more shows in the Baltimore area.

Talk to me a bit more about your influences for your new project(s).

Since 3 of our 4 members are ex-Greenwood members, I’d say that’s still influencing our music. Since a lot of these songs were written originally with Jesse on a djembe and me on an acoustic guitar, there’s kind of a pared down quality to some of the songs, but there’s a reason we brought it back to a full band. We still like to rock. As far as the songwriting, I’ve been listening to a lot of Manchester Orchestra, mewithoutYou, and Cool Hand Luke recently, so those sounds are probably showing up in our songs.

Would you recommend your new stuff to those who liked Greenwood? Who else would you recommend check out your new project(s)?

Absolutely, I think most Greenwood fans are going to be excited about this new music. These songs have a lot of the contemplative quality that we had with Greenwood, so anyone who’s interested in songs with lyrical depth, musical complexity, and a little bit of epic-ness will probably enjoy what we have to offer.

Anything else new and exciting on the horizon?

Like I said before, I’m going to be a father! Allan and Jesse have actually already beat me to it, they’ve both been fathers for about a year and a half. So, we’re in the process of raising up a new generation to take our place when we’re too old to play shows.

And one final question, has ANYONE ever written a review of The Hope Dialect even remotely as awesome as mine?

I think you probably win the prize. If only for your reference to a drunken Scott Stapp. :)

Keep rocking, keep praising the Big Guy Upstairs, and thanks for keeping me up on what you guys are up to. I’ll expect some music to review and some free tickets to a concert sometime soon.

As soon as we get music properly recorded, I’ll be sending it your way. By the way, I think I told you we have a little bit of demo-quality stuff up at romeoradio.com (which redirects to a purevolume page). Feel free to mention that, too.

~ by thepaintedman on June 25, 2009.

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