Music News

New Rome Is Burning

At my age," Jason Walker declares, "I don't know how to approach a band anymore." At 28, Walker's not being glib. He's spent the last half of his life behind a drum set, sweating it out in cramped practice pads and even tighter quarters in vans while on tour.

"More or less," he says, "I just want to be responsible about it. I've never really approached a band with a sense of responsibility in life. I've always just kind of been like, 'Oh, we're going on tour? Well, I'll just quit my fucking job.' And then I'd eat shit for a month when we came back and be totally broke. I just can't do that anymore."

Not that he's complaining. Much. The well-versed drummer is, well, the guy to call in a crisis, having moonlighted with just about every local act this side of the Rockies, from such varied acts as the Gamits to Machine Gun Blues to Love Me Destroyer. But for the most part, he's through being the session guy. These days, Walker is focusing his time and talent on his own band.

And truth be told, it's been a long time coming. The New Rome — founded by Walker and guitarist Patrick Houston, and rounded out by guitarist Ben Pitts, bassist Karl Zickrick and vocalist Eryn Swissdorf — has been a hotly contested and anticipated project, partly because of Walker and Houston's former ties to Angels Never Answer, an adored local metal/hardcore outfit that imploded much too soon. But don't mistake the New Rome for the new Angels.

"I don't want to make it seem like Patrick and I are the main figureheads of this band or anything, because we're not," Walker clarifies. "But right off the bat, we had a lot of 'Where's the new Angels?' kind of thing, and 'This is not what I want to hear from you two' — you know what I mean? With the New Rome, it's not as easy for people to understand. We get a lot of different reviews of our music, everything from people calling us an arena-rock band like Poison to, like, 'You guys got a Judas Priest thing going on' to fucking Evanescence.

"It would be completely pointless for me to be a derivative of something that I've already done," he adds. "And just to be another blip on the fucking radar. Even if it's not completely turning heads, I'd rather still be experimenting and trying something new."

Striving to gain notoriety with scenesters is something that can get old fast. And for Walker and bandmates, it's slowly becoming a shrinking concern with each passing year.

"That's not to say that being in a band at 28 years old is impossible," Walker points out, "but I think you definitely have to be a bit more strategic and smarter about it. So it's a little more difficult, but I don't think it's necessarily a curse on the band, either."