Stockton by Sacramento’s undisputed power pop champ John Steiner has out of the blue just released the anticipated Boy Romeo debut self-titled album that we have been waiting for ever since word originally surfaced of his new act. Delivering the promise from what earlier sketches shared from early demos to his work with Stockton peers in Satan Wriders; the Boy Romeo self-titled is a masterpiece made out of sacrifices, compromises & ultimately holding tight to an orignal vision & dream. This is the album that John Steiner has been working on for nearly his entirely life.
In our recent conversations we caught up with John about all the new Boy Romeo developments. “Thanks for reaching out about the Boy Romeo album!” he told us over email, “My life has been chaotic and full of change as of late and a big part of that has been the dissolution of the Boy Romeo Band.” From here he was able to complete the full-length with an assist from Dylan Wall, recorded in San Francisco at The Dock and The Shelley Space in Sacramento. “Without getting into too much detail, we abruptly parted ways and I have had to cancel our tour dates and most of our upcoming shows. That’s what led me to put the Boy Romeo album online with no big premiere or fanfare.”
And it is this humble presentation that disguises a work of absolute wonder. Those who have been waiting, and everyone who never knew they were waiting for the Boy Romeo self-titled are about to mesmerized with everything that will reinforce or restore you faith in west coast rock. Under Dylan’s sage-like tutelage, the spotlight provided allows Steiner to shine as “Answer” provides the epiphany that leads you into a spirited rendering of the fan favorite “Ghosts”. The passion is delivered with the self-gradizing “Center of the Universe”, the dogs are unleashed on the thrashing harmonic brilliance of “Hound”, to the claustrophobic rally & raging “High Rise City” that lampoons the aritocratic echelons that occupy that skyscrapers that dot the stratospheres that lie between Sac & SF respectively. One of the most underrated songs on the album might be “Satin Black” that is worthy of being a super deluxe single unto itself, and hopefully at some point this becomes it’s own proper release. Classic moves & some dazzling brilliance ensue on the fancy chord & classic power pop tribute track “Part Time Baby” that brings the party to the part-timers while Steiner absolutely stuns on “Rock & Roll With You” that is one for the ages to behold & listen on obsessive repeat. The closer “Six From the Sun” goes the full Icarus & flies too close to the sun for one powerful fist pumping finale. This is an album of triumph in the face of a band falling part while the original conception remains intact. John Steiner elaborated further about the album’s creation with the following privy exclusive insights:
We made this record as a new band but to us all of this material is super old. Patrick and I practiced for over a year before we went “public” with the band last May. We decided to make this record with money out of our pockets and shop it to labels etc while we played more shows and toured. I wanted to work with Dylan because he’d made a bunch of records that were super important to me and he’d worked with several people I knew. We knew that the project deserved studio time and I knew I had to work with someone I felt like I could trust. Even though I didn’t know Dylan I felt that way by association and a closeness to a lot of his work. Luckily he could come down to Sacramento from Seattle because he’d also booked studio time with High Sunn in San Francisco for right afterwards.
We tracked everything in four days: two in the studio and two at Patrick’s practice space. Patrick and his dad Nick built this big studio in Nick’s backyard ten years ago and bands like Charles Albright and the Bananas practice there. Nick and his wife Terry heard us play the same 10 songs day after day for as long as we were a band. We were up in there tracking guitars and vocals until one in the morning on the last night of the session. Shout out to Nick and Terry for putting up with all that. We tracked everything in a productive four days and then Dylan worked his magic back up in Seattle. In a few weeks everything was mixed and Pat Hills at Earthtone Studios mastered it. We kept playing around, practicing new material, and continuously getting better. My favorite thing about playing with this band is that I felt like the least competent at my instruments and I learned so much!
Sometimes, though, life has more important plans and it tests your values in ways that are infinitely realer than your little music thing. This version of the band is over and in several ways I am glad. Patrick is a superstar drummer and needs to move beyond this rock band. Currently I feel like I am writing and recording songs without holding onto expectations in my head or looking for the reward of an audience. Boy Romeo is just beginning and I am excited to get back into home recording and I plan to release projects that are a little more unhinged and less polished, even though there is nothing wrong with polish and rehearsal. Big thanks to my friends Erin Halligan, Josh Hong, Eli Wengrin, Cameron Getty and Blake Gillespie for all creating Boy Romeo visuals and text for little to no money. This record comes out of a place of sincere love for pop and rock n roll and I hope people enjoy it!
The self-titled Boy Romeo LP is available now via Bandcamp.