A couple of months back we had the pleasure of reviewing, what I would call Ed Roman’s Masterwork, or rather the album “Red Omen”, which has been receiving more than a fair amount of critical acclaim. Many pages have been written about the brilliant music and superb production that went into the making of this album, but just how and why was Red Omen made? Nobody could explain this better than the Creator himself…
- When did you decide to release the album “Red Omen” and when did you actually start work on it?
Ed Roman: We started in August of 2015. The album was released on June 7, 2016. It is an album for the summer and a must listen to for all people driving vehicles across the western hemisphere. People in the eastern hemisphere can use cars but if they so choose to use motorcycles horse driven carriages and listen to ghetto blasters while walking on the street, it is completely safe. All houses and any domiciles as well as night clubs and restaurants are not omitted from this list. The spring and summer is the time for growing things and this is why the ship was set a float.
- Why the title “Red Omen”? Other than the play on your name what other conceptual mysteries does the title and album hold?
Ed Roman: Our language is changing and has been changing since the inception of our existence. Our language and the context of what words sometimes mean are oblivious to most of us. For instance if I ask you what a mortgage is, invariably your answer will be.. A loan the bank gives you to buy your house.
Mort coming from the Latin word Morta meaning death and gage from the Latin word.. to grip or grasp.
Consequently we have the phrase “death grip”.
These kinds of things are littered in our language. As time moves on our language is changing it is now far more acronym based an emoticon and iconographical in its nature. The album is a fluid array of language and hidden metaphors that act more like Trojan horses in your psyche. The front cover of the record is a rooster. The rooster itself is filled with a multitude of imagery that when looked at the viewer will find something new each time. I see this continually happening in the 21st-century and in the environment of our language. The rooster is the emoticon of the album. It is a wakeup call to begin work towards a beautiful and prosperous existence.
- In what way does this “Red Omen” differ the most from your previous album do you think?
Ed Roman: There is always been a very organic approach to my records. They tend not to stay in one genre or affix themselves to one style of music. Some of my albums contain instrumental music but on this last record I decided to have it completely vocal. This album tends to have more of a mantra-esque like approach to the lyrics. I’m finding bits of information that have great potency and gravity without having to say a lot. At the same time there are numbers that offer spatial lyrical tapestries that are more like whimsical storytelling adventures. For some they may say the album has more of a 21st-century appeal and/or approach to it cosmetics. This record for the first time features a punk/metal tune as well as some samples and I guess for me that is a bit of a departure from the country folk rock like aspect of what people have felt from my earlier albums. It’s all good… it’s all Ed.
- The recording, mixing and mastering is absolutely pristine. How did you handle these processes to get these results?
Ed Roman: Michael Jack the invisible engineer. From the very inception of the recording process Michael is there with me capturing everything in its integrity. Michael’s entire life has been spent working in the realm of engineering and producing and he has honed his craft more like a first-class world violinist sought after by many orchestras. All whores gather respect with age and Michael is one who stands the test of time when it comes to people that he’s worked with as well as his abilities to capture the moment. The list of artists is off the page and the engineers he is had the pleasure to work with our part of rock ‘n’ roll’s history. Michael has an incredible set of ears and knows when to let the magic flow. We have a wonderful location for tracking live music here at Area 51 and in conjunction with his studio The Radio Room in Barrie Ontario, we end up with something more like a newfound Muscle Shoals or Electric Lady land concept in our recordings. It’s magic and I’m lucky to have him as a friend and musical partner. It’s his fault…
- Any particular reason for the choice of engineer Michael Jack as co-producer?
Ed Roman: I’ve known Mike since I was 16 years of age. We’re more like brothers or at times, the bickering couple but with the most weight and gravity I say I’m lucky to have him as my engineer. He in his own right is it incredible lover of music and a historian when it comes to the evolution of our art form. When we work together it’s more like a couple of kids in a candy store and time is a irrelevant. This is what makes the whole experience effortless and easy..
- Did you write all the material on this album yourself, or have you shared some duties with anybody else?
Ed Roman: I am the purveyor of rare stories and strange kept secrets in the psyche of the average individual. More like a garbage man of the subconscious. I am the proverbial fool on the hill looking down. The stories are a culmination of my existence and therefore the pronunciation of what I see and how I feel in my life. I never ask anybody to play anything but certain feelings are often dictated through the emotions of the songs that can’t help but come from me. When I pass a track along to anybody as far as being the guest musician and/or how the band interprets their parts is not up to me or really up to them. It is in fact up to the song.
- Could you tell us who else performs on this record alongside you?
Ed Roman: It’s a whole cast of gypsies and characters from every part of the globe. My musical comrades onstage have been Antony Cook on tubs and Chris Taggart on electric guitar. Three of us make up the basic trio of what you hear on the record other than songs like “I Am Love” witch is just me. I’ve played with both Antony and Chris for many years and their interpretations and listening skills are extraordinary. Ranging in fields from jazz, pop, folk, R&B, island, country music, fusion, Rock ‘n’ roll and just about everything in the kitchen sink that gives us the versatility and unabashed behavior in the music. I’m very lucky to know these gentlemen. The same can be said about Dave Patel and Mike Freedman. You will find Mike and Dave on the track “I Wana Be Free”. Mike and Dave and I made music for almost 25 years together and again in their own right are encyclopedias and deacons of music. Other guests include my lifelong friend since the age of five. The worldly musician Tobias Tinker keyboardist extraordinaire. Tobias and I began making music together at the age of seven. Many of our summers and March breaks were spent locked in basements and over garages making crazy fun music. Also included are my friends Michelle Rasky and Xander Demos. I’ve played with Michelle for almost 18 years and backed her up in her projects. She was the exact choice that was necessary for the track “The Way She Goes”. She is a singing angel and together our voices amalgam in a most beautiful and harmonious way. On the classic track “Clone The Sheep” we have American shredding master guitar meister Xander Demos from Pittsburgh PA. The sheep have never been so crazy. You also find Michael jack performing backup vocals on some of the tracks in third part harmony as well as some keyboard padding and a Theremin track on the number “The Wolfman”. All in all these are the fruits and vegetables that make up the soup known as “RED OMEN”.
- You released a single and video in support of the album. How did you go about producing the video?
Ed Roman: Before I embark on any video project I tend to screenplay the entire thing in my head prior to ever picking up a camera or a tripod. It’s like almost from the inception of recording the song I have a vision of how to somehow video-graphically describe the music. After I get everything shot and in some cases am lucky to have my wife Kim as my grip and camera operator. Kind enough to take my Nazi ask like camera directions, the next step is many hours in the studio and editing room going through the video footage to piece together the story I was seeing in my head. A big part of the support in the decision-making process for the single comes from Michael Jack, Michael Stover at MTS and myself. This is a big part of the team and I put great faith into our decision-making process..
- You seem to have a particular knack for the visual media. Will you be working on any more videos for the songs on the album?
Ed Roman: Absolutely! I love making these video vignettes and they are wonderful ways to connect more people with the concepts of the songs. As I have a background in acting from many years ago, a big part of the theatrical aspect in the music is what excites me about its presentation.
- Of the songs recorded here on “Red Omen”, is there any one particular track that holds a special place in your heart, and why?
Ed Roman: This is a wonderful question but at the same time slightly embarrassing. Music to me always has its function in its purpose and it’s purpose in its function. The name of the album is RED OMEN which of course is me. The story holds a special meaning to me as it is greatly about how I feel about myself and my living environment. I could spend hours trying to tell some of the people about how appreciative I am of their help over the last number of years but it would really take me a lifetime.. To me a song is the greatest tribute anyone can pay to any situation, person or sociological feeling that we have. The belief in oneself and the ability to forge continually towards your dream is one of the hardest things anybody can do in the art world. We are fighting continually tooth and nail towards the thing we are most driven by which of course is our artform. The song is me.
- For anyone who has not yet heard this album, which keywords would you personally use to describe it to them?
Ed Roman: Be A Messenger! Be A Radical! Be Love!
- Would you regard this as your best work yet? And where do you think you’ve improved your craft the most in regards to your previous releases.
Ed Roman: Fantastic question. I will never stop learning until the day I die. With that said I hope my craft from album to album and song to song becomes stronger. Not only in it’s complexity but at the same time it’s simplicity. One thing I’ve learned in the last number of years is that no matter what you think this song is in its inception or in the process of writing, recording and performance, the song is subjective to the listener and the important thing is that I took the time to write it no matter what genre it comes from. I’ve learned to let go in a multitude of ways when it comes to control. The art then takes on a new life and interpretation and consequently is alive..
- What feedback have you received from critics and fans in regards to the album as a whole? And is the response what you expected?
Ed Roman: The Word On The Street Is… Ear Candy! Its so Bad It Should Be In Detention…
The response has been overwhelming and I’m elated with the messages that I’ve been receiving from so many people all over the world. It is already started to chart in the country networks as well as the pop networks. Sales this month have been great and as a result I’ve been able to communicate and reach out and talk to so many people. I could never really expect anything other than trying to do the best job I can. Many who worked on the record have been quite happy with the pieces that they were able to be a part of… That feels good..
- No doubt, some of the songs on “Red Omen” have a strong mainstream appeal and are all superbly produced. Would you be making an attempt at getting any of these songs somewhere onto the mainstream media circuit?
Ed Roman: I’m happy that the music gets played anywhere on this planet and or in outerspace if necessary. There are many things in the works as far as Grammy nominations and a multitude of people working behind-the-scenes to get this music to the next level. I’m very lucky and happy to have the support from so many people.
It Will happen.
- The obvious final question is; after this almost perfectly mind-boggling release, where does Ed Roman go to from here?
Ed Roman: Ed Roman is going to go to his garden momentarily but from here on in, it’s a nonstop musical journey. We are working and planning a tour for the early spring and summer of 2017 and at the same time I will continually be writing and putting together more music for up-and-coming records as time permits. There will be more video vignettes to follow tracks from the album so please stay tuned and look for these wonderful releases.
Thank you so much Rick for having me and once again it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. Rick Is A Messenger…. The Omen Is RED..