It’s been a little over five years since the first time that I spoke with Dean Tartaglia and Matt Klein. At that time, the duo had been creating music under the moniker Silent Lions for a short period of time. In support of their EP release The Compartments, a heavy run of shows resulted in a stop by my area of residence.
Silent Lions were one of the first bands that had contacted me to write some words regarding the EP and the show, which meant that I had developed a heavy dose of anxiety. I wanted to prove to the duo (and most importantly myself) that I was deserving of branching outside of the local scene. As you can imagine, the piece turned out to satisfactory results and pleased the duo. Seeing them live, Silent Lions were a thing to behold. Bombastic elements of neo-soul, deep basslines and spacey keys channeled through the speakers and the musicians themselves. The audience witnessed a duo that left everything out in that dimly lit bar that night.
Later that year, unfortunate news dropped when Silent Lions disbanded. Having unknowingly violating an existing trademark from another group, Tartaglia and Klein believed that they would rather walk away from the project than just rename themselves; the title was simply entwined with their identity of the music. Both individuals moved on to different projects but always remained good friends. Early last year, Tartaglia and Klein began jamming together again, which lead to their current project ROVR. Having components of Silent Lions instilled within their DNA, the band has found themselves being more experimental with their sound and diving into more of their influences. Elements of trip-hop, punk, metal, and rap are infused to create a sound that’s chockful of swagger that’s raw and unpredictable.
In a matter of days prior to our conversation, ROVR set up a generator on what is now the demolished Southwyck Mall parking lot in town. The show was in support of three new singles that they released: “ONSTYLE”, “Dizzy In The Bathroom”, and “KP.” “Since the beginning of the summer we have done a couple,” Klein says. “I think that this is the culmination and maybe people who haven’t seen one.” As you can see, the show was electric.
I spoke with the members of the band to catch up and learn more about their latest project.
If I remember correctly, you two have known each other for about fifteen years? Did you meet each other in the music scene?
Matt Klein: Maybe ten…ten years.
Dean Tartaglia: We’ve played in the same bands, but never together. I will be in a band and then I would leave. He would then play in the band.
When do you decide to get together the first time?
DT: Summer of 2011?
MK: That sounds right.
DT: We were just kinda demoing, jamming some ideas that would become Silent Lions.
It’s a shame that you had to cease doing the project. That’s not to say that what you are doing isn’t good because it is.
MK: Looking back on it now, we wouldn’t have it any other way because it worked out with taking a break. When we decided to try playing music again, it clicked right away; things evolved and ideas had sat for a while, we went back to some of that material and it was easy to reshape it. So yeah, it was the right time to stop. Ever since we started writing together again, there’s been no creativity blocks that we had at the end of Silent Lions. We were trying to go in different directions but couldn’t quite nail it. Now it’s been pretty effortless and really exciting. We are working with Zach Shipps again. He was kind of a reason to start Silent Lions.
DT: (Zach) was in this band called Electric Six. I just would run into him on tour during the college days. We just clicked the first time we worked together. We still work with him.
He’s been essentially the third member of your team. You have worked with him on a lot of things.
DT: (Zach) has really called a lot of shots in ROVR; radically changing certain songs into new ideas that he has had. He’s been a good buffer; being able to hear what we are trying to get at, but we can’t do sometimes.
The whole thing in general, I’ve really tried to stop thinking in terms of what could have been. Even now versus when we were doing Silent Lions, we had to do the album thing; you push a set of songs for a year at a time. It wasn’t conducive to how we work creatively. We realized that when we started ROVR. Putting music out every couple of months now and it’s different almost all the time. We have so many songs to pick from that we recorded and we just chose three chill ones. I don’t think there’s any bass on them…just more electronic, but it still sounds like us. Being able to do that – release different stuff that has different feels – I think that it’s all going to make sense eventually when we are a hundred songs in. There’s a pattern to what we doing. We definitely see it, but we know we haven’t released enough music yet for people to see. That’s the goal for the next period of what we are doing; keep releasing stuff to it starts to start making a map out of what are doing.
Are you going away from the tradition drops of EP and/or LPs?
DT: Maybe…we talked about doing an EP that’s a little more straight forward. But it would be a subgenre of what we do. If we are going to put something on it like that, we will put a lot of energy into pushing it a specific way to reach the kind of people that would really like it and then the more experimental stuff. We don’t have to push everything equally.
Was there any hesitation about getting back together?
MK: No, we were excited about trying it out at that point.
DT: It actually happen to come naturally. We had one older track we never touched that we wanted to try to give it to the people that pitched our stuff to television. We thought that it would work really well. That got us writing again by doing that. It was pretty seamless; the infrastructure behind what we are seems to make more sense. We didn’t talk about playing shows for a while, honestly; it was all about writing from the get-go. It’s definitely more writing than playing shows. And who knows if that ratio is going always going to be like that…it kinda doesn’t matter. The goals we have-we will figure it out more what we are about if we keep writing songs.