Joe Romeo doesn't sport mutton chops or bell-bottoms; he saves such telltale '60s throwbacks for his band Fake Swedish. The crisp, R&B bounce says Brit Invasion like those classic suits worn by the Beatles and Kinks, while the riffs--slathered in distortion--shimmy like a vertiginous hippy on acid before returning to the sonic fold. Asked for '60s influences, Romeo cites, "Love, The Yardbirds. I'm definitely more in the psychedelic. I dig the Pretty Things and the Nuggets set, but I like some of the more freaked out stuff like Can and Soft Machine, as well.
"But the nature of everything I do is in light of my undying love of the Beatles," Romeo confesses. "I write the Beatles middle 8, I have the generic two-part thing and delve into the harmony middle 8 section. It comes mainly from the Beatles, though I do love the Hollies as well."
Though the band has been together for two years, the friendship of Romeo and fellow guitarist Eric Haugen goes back to high school, when he met Haugen on a train from New Jersey into NYC for an Archers of Loaf/Pipe show at the legendary Tramps. Though they initially connected on their love of indie rock, they soon discovered their shared interest in '60s music "and Guided By Voices, which is the bridge between the two."
It's fitting, then, that Fake Swedish's big break came opening for GBV on their farewell tour this fall.
"It's been the pinnacle of our short career. That was the first time anyone took us seriously in town, because we got to play to 200 of them at once," Romeo reports. "I got wasted with [Robert] Pollard before the show. He said, 'You need to be more drunk' and kept feeding me beers. I asked, 'When is enough?' He said, 'When you puke.' I said, 'I'll puke after the show,' and he said, 'You need to puke before or during the show.'"
The band is celebrating the release of their debut LP, Get Correct, on Demonbeach Records this week. The album was recorded in the fall with Nick Peterson (Des_Ark, The Nein) and was one of the first done in their Go! Studios space, now know as Track & Field Studios. Peterson had also recorded the group's debut Trousers EP.
"[Peterson and co-producer John Byrd] have expansive, seemingly endless knowledge of the technical aspects that we have zero knowledge of. And they're unobtrusive almost to a fault," says Romeo.
The album's title track, he says, originated in a dream.
"The whole framework of lyrics was written in the dream; it was similar to that Twilight Zone episode where that guy works at that library, and he's the last person on earth and then his glasses break. I remember I was on the steps of some giant library or archive, I was leading a militia, and I had a megaphone and was wearing a bathrobe ... I was berating these people and they would listen or turn their heads, and I told them to 'get correct. '"
Fake Swedish play their CD release party with Ghost of Rock and Hope, Star & Browning on Friday, April 8 at Local 506.