Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Roman Candle

PressPassRomanCandlesOne jumper cable attaches to the left temple. Another to the right.

According to Roman Candle’s Skip Matheny, when music — good music — is doing its job, it’s like jump starting your brain. By that standard, Roman Candle is the never-failing Energizer battery connected to those jumper cables.

One jumper cable attaches to the left temple. Another to the right.

PressPassRomanCandles

Roman Candle (Photo: David McClister)

According to Roman Candle’s Skip Matheny, when music — good music — is doing its job, it’s like jump starting your brain. By that standard, Roman Candle is the never-failing Energizer battery connected to those jumper cables.

The process previously described isn’t about power, so to speak. Matheny and his crew, consisting of his wife, Timshel, and his brother, Logan, aren’t the loud, Red-Bull-swilling songsmiths that mistake volume and a machine-gun, double-bass-drum beat for energy. Instead, their energy is sparked by an organic approach to songwriting and a natural knowledge of their talents that mingles familiar with foreign and revives you from the mundane slog of the everyday.

Take their latest LP, Oh Tall Tree In The Ear. Lead track “Eden Was a Garden” builds and bursts forth with flavors you may find with The Beatles, Modern Mouse and A.C. Newman. That’s if you start pulling the song apart. But unify that track with lyrics comparing several stray perfect moments of an everyday life with man’s fleeting stay in the Garden of Eden — words that would do every poet from Josh Ritter to Bob Dylan proud — and you find yourself beckoned by the familiar elements and driven forward by the foreign blend. Suddenly that spark-less engine is now humming with life, thanks to the unique product the Mathenys are pushing.

“It’s always a process of negation for us,” Skip says. “We go with something when everyone thinks it’s interesting, which usually means when it doesn’t sound like anything anyone else can think of. And it might not be totally new. We’re not trying to make a foreign film. We’re just trying to make something that clicks into place for us.”

That process has served them well over the years, as they’ve become something of a darling in the eyes of the music media. Among other glowing reviews, Paste Magazine dubbed Oh Tall Tree In The Ear one of the best albums of 2009 and included single “Why Modern Radio is A-OK” as one of the year’s top-tracks in the mag’s early-annual honors, “The Best of 2009 … so far.” It also labeled the album a “modern rock masterpiece.”

“One likes to be liked,” Skip says of the positive press. “We just try to follow our instincts when we’re writing music, so when you see someone else enjoy it, it just encourages us to keep following our instincts.”

That desire to delve into new territory extends even beyond the band’s music. Skip recently started an interview series for American Songwriter magazine, called “Drinks with … ”, in which he chats with some of the musicians he finds most inspiring.

“Musicians have been on the boring end of the same questions for a long time,” Skip laments. “I think that since I’m not a journalist works in my favor for that reason. I’ve learned what’s fun to talk about.”

So what would Skip Matheny consider a new and exciting question that no one’s asked him? How about what’s for dinner?

“I like to cook, and right now I’ve been eating a lot of BLTs. We’ve been growing our own tomatoes, so I’ve been using those along with some jalapeno mayonnaise.”

It may be the first time Skip’s answered the question, but his response isn’t entirely surprising. Turns out even in the kitchen, the musicians of Roman Candle like to keep it fresh.

• Roman Candle performs live at Jammin’ Java on April 18. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 the day of the show. For more on the band, visit www.romancandlemusic.com.


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