The destructive powers of rock 'n' roll on full display
THE ROAR: BIOLOGY
They came from the North to eat sandwiches and rock the planet. And they’re all out of sandwiches. From haunted woods surrounding Detroit came a brood of carnivorous animal children, raised within the odd atmospheric pressure changes of the surrounding Great Lakes of Michigan (state motto: “It Is So Cold Here”), and baptized in the hallowed dirt of St. Iggy. It was an ideal and pastoral childhood for the scrappy boys, but the good times were short-lived.
As they say in the history books, war came, and with its arrival, sanity packed its steamer trunk and took off. It was during these tumultuous times that Justin Zeppa met Thomas McCartan on a park bench in occupied Paris.
“I had just purchased a baguette from a street vendor who was peddling baked goods on Pont Neuf while transmitting messages to the underground via his wooden shoes,” Zeppa later recalled. “War does strange things to people.”
“I had just finished some charcoal rubbings of Hammurabi’s Code at the Louvre for my dissertation on charcoal rubbings, when I spotted this bloke who was dressed like a chimney sweep and was cradling this loaf of bread,” McCartan mused after the war. “And I was so hungry.”
Reports vary as to what exactly happened next, but it is almost certain that the bread was broken in two (as was customary at the time), one half was bigger than the other, tempers flared, and they settled on forming a band, The Royal Tampon Bombs. A power trio known for unorthodox setlists and ever-increasing tempos, TRTB became such a powerful power trio that they had to break up.
McCartan found solace as the low-man for alt-country legends, Flatfoot, while Zeppa vanished without leaving a forwarding address. Once more, the weathered hand of history served as a catalyst for the completion of the puzzle, bitch-slapping the Great Lakes state with a series of assaults waged by the Native warrior Tecumseh on the frontier settlements. Chaos ensued, and McCartan fled to the safety and security of New York City, where he responded to an ad for roommates with fellow Michigan exile, Graham Irwin, former member of The Bridges and a founding force of the nu-Motown sound: ‘I’ll let u live w me if u pay my rent.’ The desperate tenant? Zeppa. The result? The Roar.
While the lads set to work on writing and recording The Roar’s self-titled debut in early 2006, the search for a drummer began. Upon discovering that Keith Moon was still dead, The Roar settled on the next best thing, one Sean Tuccillo, a minstrel vagabond hailing from north of the city, with a reputation for being in 12,000 bands at one time.
“Sean really sold us on his drumming skills when he drove us to this creepy estate and got us drunk in a field reminiscent of the Battle of Cowpens,” McCartan mumbled in his sleep last Tuesday.
“They made me sign a pact of blood and chrome in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, which I thought was unusual,” Tuccillo remembered, brushing a tear away from his right eye. “Normally when I join a band, we just go get drunk on Miller High Life at Chili’s. But then, this isnt a normal band.”
True to his word, the band was not normal. Slogging it out in 1 a.m. sets in the New York club “scene” in front of enormous crowds of seven to eight people, the pressures of infamy became too much for the boys and they scattered with the wind. Graham took his leave early and moved to Alaska. Justin and Thom fled back to Michigan. Sean stayed put in his Lay-Z-Boy, waiting for phone calls that never came.
Still, writing and recording continued on a follow-up record while Zeppa and McCartan found solace in the arms of Flatfoot, recording “Wild Was Our Mercy” in Detroit with Aaron Bales, who became The Roar’s go-to harmonica-ist. In order to pay off their many debts, they took to moonlighting in a third band, The Denny McLain ‘68 Comeback Special, an Elvis tribute-act celebrated by the many drunks of Lansing.
As the saying goes, “If you want something done right, it will take about two years.” At long last, on Halloween of 2008, The Roar’s second album “Complicated Animal” was released on the information superhighway. An ambitious and epic struggle of genres ranging from punk rock to sea shanty to soul ballad, it has changed the way we look at their online profile. 12 songs spanning 43 minutes, it has broken the loud-fast mold of their debut by adding even more layers of mortar to their trademark wall-of-sound.
According to the latest sightings, all band members appear to be alive; McCartan and Bales continue with Flatfoot, while Zeppa has become a recluse battling through yet another existential crisis. The Roar’s follow-up EP “Jaws Of Life” was recorded in a whirlwind 4 months and released on June 9th, 2009. Unprecedented in its scale and ambition, it is a single 20-minute song which further solidifies The Roar as the best music you have never heard.