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BUILDING ROME power pop alt rock band has emo foundation & commercial appeal

"Roma die uno non aedificata est"(translation from latin: "Rome wasn't built in a day") How long did it take to build Rome? It began around 753 B.C. and reached its peak in 120 A.D. when the population became 1.2 million, so technically it took about 870 years. Oh, you mean the St. Louis, Missouri-based power pop alt rock band with an aura of emo? Five years, no make that six, no they just added a fourth guy to play bass, so make that ah...well, the fact of the matter is...they're still Building Rome, the band. (images in order of appearance: Building Rome CD covers, Buddy Holly from a picture by Billy Hathorn and his look-a-like Jon Heisserer, awesome drummer Brian Porter, band's original founding member Jon Heisserer, new bass player Heath Robertson, skilled lead guitarist Tom Butler) I caught up with these musicians performing their craft at a show in suburban Chicago this past month on August 14th, 2010. Simply...they ROCKED! In speaking with founder Jon Heisserer when questioned about the name of the band he told me "it's been difficult trying to find the right mix of musicians to make up the band and as a result a frined had mentioned that Rome wasn't built in a day". Right from the git-go they came onstage with a refreshing look, ditching the t-shirt ripped jeans thing which many bands tend to do nowadays (where you can't tell a fan from the featured rock performer), wearing collared shirts with the band's leader Jon Heisserer looking eerily like a youthful reincarnation of a clean-cut guitar-laden Buddy Holly. This band presented themselves very professionally and they jumped into their set of seven all-original rock music tunes with conviction and polished enthusiasm...the lyrics were easily and clearly heard with a perfect balance between the four rockers bringing forth such a high definition in the execution of their songs, making it sound as if I was listening to a very audiophilic quality studio version recording of their music pulsing out into the audience. They upstaged all the other bands I heard on the bill that night (Dear Noel, Odayin, and 6 Ways From Sunday) with their overall no-nonsense stage presence, technical playing skills of drummer Brian Porter, Tom Butler on lead guitar/backup vocals, newly acquired bass player Heath Robertson, and the exceptional songwriting talent of Jon Heisserer on lead vocals/rhythm guitar. The band's sound is very much in the power pop vein which draws its inspiration from 1960s British and American pop and rock music, typically incorporating a combination of musical devices such as strong melodies, crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements, and prominent guitar riffs with limited soloing...yet also having that sound which is descended from punk rock making them somewhat alternative in nature with a solid base of emo (music that is typically characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics) that is noticably apparent in their sound/image which it is creatively built on. Building Rome's fourth and latest CD release, "Nightmare", is a concept album supposedly loosely based on the movie Jacob's Ladder, but it seems to me it is more tellingly a revealing portrait of the band's songwriter Jon Heisserer and his expressive visions and angst of what he personally was going through during "...a really rough time..." in his life; his band had broken up, and as Jon states in an interview he had with Courtney Marsh of the St. Louis Music Examiner, "...I pretty much sat on my couch for a year being really depressed. The concept for the album started up with a dream that I had, and sort of perpetuated itself into a whole story about love, death, anger, addiction, and war....I just wanted to make something real. I can always tell when people write music just to write music. I wanted to write something that I would listen to...I was tired of writing songs that ended after three minutes." The set of seven tunes opened with "Welcome To My Brain", then "Nightmare", 3rd was what I considered their second best tune of the show "Take Cover (Burn)", the 4th tune they slowed it down a little bit with "The Panting Dog" another great tune with a memorable guitar riff, the 5th song performed was "Sleep In My Eyes", the 6th tune livening up the audience with "Dr. Doctor" and finally their biggest hit to date and what I considered their best tune, "What Are We Fighting For?". All in all, they are a band not to be missed and seem to be a step away from commercially viable rock n' roll fame...the band is still going through changes as Jon continues to re-form and enhance the band, Building Rome, in pursuit of the musical vision to be had...keep it up guys and hone your sound...just remember, "If you build it,they will come." 'Nuff Sed.

Elbo Room Chicago live show video of Buiding Rome doing the tune "Take Cover (Burn)":

Commercially produced video of Building Rome's hit "What Are We Fighting For?":

Oklahoma City, OK
August 24, 2010

Jon Heisserer – Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Heath Robertson - Bass
Tom Butler – Lead Guitar/Backup Vocals
Brian PorterDrums/Backup Vocals
(on recordings but no longer a current band member Brandon Armour – Guitar/Backup Vocals)



I indicated that this band was based on a foundation of emo. What is emo? It is a form of culture that commonly is tied to both music and fashion as well as the emo subculture...usually among teens, the term "emo" is stereotyped with wearing slim-fit jeans sometimes in bright colors...some males also wear thick, black horn-rimmed glasses. The emo fashion is also recognized for its hairstyles...popular looks include long side-swept Fringe (hair)bangs, sometimes covering one or both eyes...also popular is hair that is straightened and dyed black...bright colors, such as blue, pink, red, or bleached blond, are also typical as highlights in emo hairstyles...short, choppy layers of hair are also common...this fashion has at times been characterized as a the early 2000s, emo fashion was associated with a clean cut look but as the style spread to younger teenagers, the style has become darker, with long bangs and emphasis on the color black replacing vests...the term emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or has also been associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide.


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