roomdoom: funny wee songs about food and art

Electro-punk dance trio roomdoom burst onto the scene this year with socially aware songs about snacks, sandwiched between an artful philosophy and wild performances.

Out of a mutual desire to have fun, make people dance and eat sandwiches, roomdoom was born. The band is barely five months old, but in that time, they've played at least 10 shows, including house parties, galleries (inside a fabric dome at the Khyber ICA), at the recent Obey Convention and two very different shows last weekend---one with Hamburg experimental musician/artist Felix Kubin at the North Street Church and another at One Life Surf School's summer kick-off party.

The busy roomdoom band members, Patrick Ryan (bass), Stacy Brown (synthesizer/vocals) and Adam O'Reilly (drums/vocals), come from different backgrounds: Ryan played keyboards in Truro's ZAAT (roomdoom is the first band he's played guitar in), O'Reilly played drums with Fall Horsie and Brown is a folk singer. Sometimes enlisting their pals for special performances---Nathan Cameron on trombone, Aaron Mangle on drums---roomdoom blends art and dance music with fluidity.

"When we first started we were playing noisier stuff---very loose and punk," says O'Reilly. "It's a fine line. If we played a little sloppier and a little more distorted it would be kind of like fast punk, potentially...but when it's slowed down, it's harder. It's a great challenge." Citing Devo, Eno, dub reggae, Vangelis, Philip Glass, Lightning Bolt and '70s rock as some of their influences, roomdoom adds their own sense of humour.

"We're really good at keeping a straight face, some of the songs are like jokes," says O'Reilly. "It's like surrealist humour, but we take the songs seriously."

"I think it's fun when people don't really know how to take it," says Brown. "It's really fun when people don't know how to respond." "When we practise, it's often joke time," adds O'Reilly. "It's kind of an excuse for us to hang out. Sometimes the jams are like the Fraggle Rock theme for half an hour." "I think the moment one of us does start to get a little serious, the others start making fun," says Brown. "I've often tried to raise a serious opinion and it's immediately shot down with sarcasm, which keeps the project fun."

Humour isn't the only thing that bonds the band. If you don't leave a show craving pizza or a sandwich, you'd better have a closer listen. "Food is definitely a theme," says O'Reilly. "Stacy's a chef, and we talk about food a lot and what we like to eat, especially if we're practising and we're hungry." "We have a song about all the pizza places in Halifax," says Ryan. "We're a hungry trio."

The group aims to be present instead of passive, even when performing for hundreds of sweaty and drunk partiers. Engaging the audience and bringing about some kind of social awareness isn't necessarily high on many bands' lists, but roomdoom keeps it in mind: There's one song about not being able to afford "a sandwich in my neighbourhood." "Even the pizza's kind of silly, it's about pizza," says O'Reilly. "But it's also about community and that people should be aware about where they are, where they live."

Providing a soundtrack to crazy dance parties while creating a lasting artistic experience for the crowd is important to roomdoom. They are willing to do away with traditional stage set-ups (for instance, drummer in the back---O'Reilly plays right up front) and become true entertainers. They cite Mitchell Wiebe and Soaking Up Jagged as a major influence; Wiebe's mixture of performance art and music match well with roomdoom's aesthetics. Artist Jason Johnson recently collaborated with roomdoom at the Obey Convention in a project involving an animal costume and lots of fake blood (see a video at "I'm interested in performance art because I'm a performance artist, but I do think of the two differently," says O'Reilly. "Although I do like the idea of becoming a character when you go on stage."

"I wore a cape a couple times," says Brown. "Remember when you brought a single rose into the audience?" asks O'Reilly.

"Yeah, and they destroyed it!"

The trio's energy is infectious; despite never headlining a show to date, they've moved straight to tour planning. See for yourself, July 10 at the Paragon. "We have high aspirations, we aspire to put out a full-length record on vinyl and do a massive Canadian tour," says Brown, provoking some incredulous laughs from the group. "Maybe a live DVD?" suggests Brown. "Maybe stuffed animals as merchandise or little hockey figures of us or something?"


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