Genre-bending trio Riot for Romance recentlyshared their take on Radiohead’s “OK Computer,” with their own number “Karma Police,” with unique twist to the classic production. Managing to showcase the diversity of their own sound while still paying homage to the original, the track makes for a satisfying listen.
With the cover kicking off inspiration to write a new EP, the trio made use of the pandemic to give life to an emotional and spiritual musical journey that delves into humanity transforming their own experiences into relatable snippets that anyone can latch on to.
Consisting of Jason Hansen, Brett Miotti and Kelly Nunn, the band has found a sonic space fusing Post-Punk, Shoegaze, and Alternative Rock for a dynamic style which they’ve evolved consistently with each release.
The band chats to Earmilk about their upcoming EP, artists who inspire them and share future plans.
Last year, you dropped the self-titled EP Riot for Romance, including “The World And Its Weight” and “Less For Regret.” Can you elaborate on each track?
The EP was conceived at the beginning of the pandemic, and since music is such an emotional, spiritual, and mental space for us, it was a perfect storm while being trapped at home. Thematically and lyrically, I really focused on just being human; writing so that it was more of an emotion that someone could latch on to and make it their own. But here’s the personal take for me:
“The World And Its Weight” deals with the stress that the shelter at home puts on relationships of all kinds. For me, it was with my wife and kids. It was my way of saying to my wife, “hey babe, the weight of the world is heavy right now, but no matter how hard it is there is no one else I’d rather do this with. Let’s use the pressure that life is dishing out to make us like diamonds.” (I’m a romantic at heart.)
“Less For Regret” touches on the struggles of being a parent. Relationships are tough. Being entirely responsible for another person is mind blowing. And I don’t walk away from each day feeling like a winner as a parent. Logically, I know I can’t be perfect as a father, but damn I wish I could be! Sometimes I sit at night and can fall down the rabbit hole of how my actions build up or tear down my kids. The best thing I can do for them is practice loving myself in those moments, teach them with humility, and own my mistakes. Isn’t that what the human experience is all about – falling down and getting back up?
In February, you shared a rendition of Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” Why did you decide to cover the song? Are there any original singles you’re working on at the moment?
The band formed in order to do a rendition of “The Dungeon,” a deep cut from Starflyer 59’s Shoegaze album Silver. We had so much fun with our interpretation of it that we decided to write an EP.
There is something satisfying about putting your own spin on a classic song you love. It’s one thing to simply cover a song exactly as it was first released but interpreting it in your own ethos while still paying homage to the original is its own artform. Honestly, it puts yourself in a vulnerable spot as a musician, because you’re being judged through the lens of the original.
Radiohead is an influence for all of us. Their creativity has always challenged the status quo of pop music. It just seemed like the perfect song to approach. And it kicks off the recording of a new LP just like our cover of “The Dungeon” did for our EP. We’re far along the writing process for the new album, and we’re incredibly excited to finish it for release. As we complete more songs, we’ll release a few of them as singles first like we did for “Karma Police.” Expect more in the next few months!
Do you still reside in separate states? How do you manage to brainstorm and coordinate together? Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the person in front of you, let alone a person in another city. How do you guys find harmony while being in different places?
It’s definitely an uncommon situation, but it’s been done before. We figured, hey, The Postal Service did it by mailing tracks. We can do this using the cloud.
So, yes, we all still live in different states. For starters, technology has come a long way making the process a little easier while still capturing quality sounds. It helps that the three of us have all done professional recordings with some amazing producers and engineers in the past. And Kelly runs his own studio, Sound Source Studios. While we all contribute in a producer capacity, Kelly is the mastermind of engineering the final sounds. He also preps rehearsal tracks for us to practice against when we tour. Our shows consist of a ton of practicing alone, getting together where the tour kicks off, warming the set up a couple times the night before, and then showtime. Somehow, it works. And we feel it works well.
We’ve also known each other for a long time. We’re talking about my two closest friends for many many years. There’s something special to that. Kelly brings the pop structure and definition, Brett brings the avant-garde and blurs the lines of pop, and I’m the hippy who believes each song has a life of its own and speaks to us. I don’t know. It just works haha. We have a motto: “If it ain’t fun, we're done.” That keeps us level headed when things begin to stress. So, it’s been so much fun. And I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Our friendship always comes first and drives our music.
Let’s talk about your genre-bending sound. It’s a fusion of Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, and Shoegaze. How did you find your own unique voice and do you plan to experiment with other styles in the future?
Well, first, thanks for noticing!! Ha. It has been a challenge for the labels we’ve worked with to align us to genres for things like Spotify playlists, for example. I would say that Post-Hardcore, Grunge, and Emo are other influences as well, though maybe less apparent.
This is a great question. I wish I had some esoteric answer, but really, I think this is where the combination of our makeup and a little bit of luck come together. It’s the same reason we’re able to find harmony while being in different places. We really just balance each other out and respect each person’s contributions. Our sound is birthed from that.
Do you have a tour planned any time soon? Are there any upcoming shows or performances you would like to share with us?
We just finished a short southeast tour and Furnace Fest before that. The next larger gig is during the 4th of July weekend at Audiofeed Festival! Since we’re focused on recording our new album, we’ll be doing spot-dates and festivals until that’s completed.
Name a few of the artists who have inspired you and helped shape your sound!
Oooh there are so many. But to list a few: Swervedriver, Tears For Fears, Quicksand, Echo & The Bunnymen, U2, Jawbox, The Cure, and Slowdive.
Ok, that was more than a few…
What is the story behind the band’s name “Riot for Romance”?
This is where I squeeze in another influence. No Knife came out with an album titled “Riot For Romance!” in the early 00’s which included a song with the same namesake. It’s such a great song – and album for that matter. I love the alliteration in the name. And beyond this tangible connection, it has something more abstract to it. In the same vein as my lyrics, I believe it’s a name that can draw meaning to individuals as it resonates with them.
In general, companionship and connection with others is something we crave as humans. That connection is something we all strive for romantically, platonically, and otherwise. Also, we live in a society where certain groups of people are fighting for their rights just to be who they are – just to live life. We are allies for all of these. We’re willing to fight for the idea that love wins.
Now, interesting story time: When our self-titled release first dropped, a fan @mentioned No Knife on Instagram asking what they thought about our band name. To our surprise, the band responded with their blessing and well wishes.
Connect with Riot for Romance : Instagram