Chris Romero, frontman for the Brighton-based band Sick, may not be the only rocker to support his music by doubling as a hit man, but he's probably the first to boast about it.
Of course, Romero's work as an assassin is only an act; he has a small but important role as a henchman in the new Andy Garcia film Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. As he tells it, he practically stumbled onto the opportunity. "I was more or less just trying to get exposure for the band," he confesses. "I'm not really an actor. I've mostly just worked as an extra. This time, though, it turned into something a little bigger.
"They had just come across my picture at the talent agency I was at and said that they were casting three people to play hit men in this new movie," he continues. "I had no idea what the movie was about or who was in it. I just thought to myself, `Well, sure,' and went down there."
He's glad he did, because the casting director, impressed by Romero's menacing glower, promptly awarded him the role of Andy Garcia's killer. "I didn't have a clue what to expect or what I was doing," he says. "They pretty much handed me a gun and said, `Go do this.' To tell you the truth, I sat around for three or four days on the set more than anything else."
Musically, Romero and the rest of Sick (Vinnie Levshakoff on drums, Aaron Greenwall on bass and his brother Eric Greenwall on guitar) have been far more active. Last year the four released their debut cassette, Just Deal With It, a solid amalgam of hard-edged guitar licks, stylized funk infusions and driving percussion. "At first the goal was just to get together and jam and have fun," recalls Aaron, who recruited Romero from a Top 40 cover band two years ago to complete Sick's lineup. "It just grew into bigger and bigger shows."
In fact, the act's local dates did well enough to justify a swing through the West Coast last year. Sick appeared in San Francisco, San Jose and Hollywood, and while in the Los Angeles area, Romero says, "I just took a chance and walked into Perry Farrell's office." Farrell, of Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros fame, created the traveling circus known as Lollapalooza--and while Romero wasn't able to meet with him personally, he did get to one of Farrell's underlings. "I said, `We're from Denver, we're in town this week, and if you're ever looking for local bands, we'd like a shot at playing.' Then we left them a tape, and when we got home, Farrell had already called us and said that they'd given us a slot."
The group entertained on Lollapalooza's third stage during the event's Denver stop, giving the musicians the chance to play before thousands of people and establishing their identity in the minds of area promoters; as a result, they were invited to play several other summer festivals. "We basically tried to do everything that came through town," concedes Romero. Aaron adds that the experience has given the band a sense of direction: "I'd love to be able to get on one of those tours as a small, unsigned band, whether it be Lollapalooza or another festival type of thing--just to get some recognition."
Aiding them in that regard is another connection they established on their California trip. "We're leaving at the end of February to go to Los Angeles and record our new music," Romero reveals, "and believe it or not, Jerry Dixon, the bass player from Warrant, is going to be producing it." Just as Farrell had, Dixon called Sick after hearing a copy of Deal. He subsequently invited them to make their next album at his studio, Dream State.
"We're anxious to get something new out soon," Romero confirms. "Just Deal With It has been out over a year now. We're probably going to release an EP this summer that we're recording at Dream State. But for now, we're going to come out with a free cassette single with a couple of new tracks."
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"We're going to make about a thousand of them and just give them away," Aaron interjects. "Most people throw down fliers or stuff like that, but if you get a cassette, you're more likely to hang on to it and listen to it."
Romero says that the group's newer music will focus more on melody and harmony. "It's still got a heavy edge, though," he goes on, "because that's really what we're all about."
Filmgoers will get the first chance to hear the new sounds of Sick; on February 13 the band is scheduled to play at a Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead bash at the Bluebird Theater. (Tickets to the performance and screening are being given away through various media promotions.)
It's no surprise that Romero landed this choice gig. After all, who's going to say no to a hit man?