Ode to Romes Guitarist James Tebbitt
by Paula M. Toledo
From Wicklow, Ireland, to Toronto, Canada, to living in a van for 6 weeks. ROMES' Guitarist James Tebbitt has made the miles and sacrifices in his journey to becoming a professional musician. 15 years ago, in Ireland, the formation of a band would begin with his closest friends. The story of young lads and best friends thrashing around playing music in high school gyms, parent's basements is all too reminiscent of many aspiring bands. But one can't help but draw comparisons to the legendary bands that have stood the test of time. Like the Beatles or U2 (to name a few), ROMES is made up of bandmates who all met in their youth. As listeners, where camaraderie and play translate past school antics, sports and into music, we are compelled. For without a doubt, on vinyl, one can hear between the grooves, the underlying sheer fun of adventure and the hard work ethic required to make it.
Photos Source: Morgan Hotson/Aesthetic Magazine
Perhaps, it is in these early formative years of learning their trade, that musicianship and alchemy formed in a way that could have only developed under the sheer balls and desire to show off in front of your mates. If we look back to our youth, we can certainly recall outrageous things we did as a way to test our boundaries. These are the years where we learn, to a certain degree, what we are made of. To be able to create and test the waters in an environment that is safe, because of the sensitivity that all ideas are good ideas, is the most honest breeding ground for pushing creative limits. Those that have this great fortune and the discipline to persevere and see their ideas through, are the ones that survive the rightful passage of an artist.
Upon hearing ROMES first track 'Tryna Be', and the remaining tracks on their LP, I was struck by the latter and the level of quality production in the soul-pop band's first single. Arrangements so tight, sonic hooks from the get-go, beautiful harmonies and a song that takes you on a journey with the energy rising, crescendoing to a satisfying ending. I instantly liked the track as it reminded me of one of my favourite bands, Phoenix. I did what most people do when they hear of a new band. I googled them. So, it came to no surprise to me when I learned that their Debut self-titled LP was produced by L.A. Grammy-nominated producer, Tony Hoffer, who also produced Phoenix, Beck, Air and The Stars. The choice to work with Hoffer on their debut LP, whether intentional or not, has proven to be a strategic move in differentiating them from a pop band, who's hits are crafted FOR them, not BY them. This focus has drawn away some attention on their easy-on-the-eyes appearances, and instead, rightfully placed the deserved emphasis on their musicianship, their energy, their songwriting and the positive messages they put out into the world.
Production, songwriting, musicianship aside, still after hearing the track, I was curious about what compelled me to want to listen to the track over and over again. Despite it being played in heavy rotation on Virgin Music radio, I felt a desire to search for it in Spotify and listen even closer. What draws us into a piece of music is topical with the advent and importance of brain research, namely the Neuroscience of how music affects the brain. Researchers at McGill University have reported the affects of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, that is released in response to pleasure, the same part of the brain's reward system that is triggered by biologically significant activities such as sex and food (Source: Nature Neuroscience, Valorie N. Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Kevin Larcher, Alain Dagher, Robert J. Zatorre).
Music doesn't only feel good but it is good for you. Such is the theory behind Tebbitt's philosophy of participating in music when one feels down or depressed, as he has been upon his recent move to Toronto. Tebbitt also describes what is it is like to live in the confines of small quarters when on the road and tools he draws upon to help him cope with stress. Authentic, candid and reassuring, the podcast interview sheds light on the impact of the loss of his father at such a young age, and how this significant life event impacted the path he would take in becoming a guitarist and musician. Soul contracts, forest bathing, meditation, making music for the sheer pleasure of it, it is clear that Tebbitt has his feet on the ground, his heart in the music, and a respectful understanding of how to keep his brain and mind healthy.
To add further substance to his belief of the benefits of music on the brain, Tebbitt has agreed to help me advocate for Men's Mental Health by kindly and generously donating ROMES merchandise (T-shirt and their LP) to the best Movember (An international cause and Foundation supporting and raising awareness for Men's Mental Health) moustache INSTA selfie.
To enter, you need to follow Ode To Wonder and ROMES and be sure to #Movember #DigitalIndieTribe. The winning Moustache will be chosen on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 8 PM EST. Entrants much be over the age of 18. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or Movember Foundation. You understand that you are providing the information to the owner of the Instagram pages mentioned to be 'followed'.
Listen to their debut self-titled CD here. Legendary or not, only time will tell. But without a doubt, this band is going places and with people like James Tebbitt opening up the discussion on Mental Health, it is clear the impact will be felt not only within the benefits of listening to ROMES' music, but within the personal down-to-earth interactions he has with his audience and fans.