Rock trios aren’t dead

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Ravens Ballroom (L to R), vocalist/guitarist Matthew Ravens, bassist/vocalist Simi Ravens and drummer Jon Rosenbaum. *Photo courtesy of Matthew Ravens

Ravens Ballroom (L to R), vocalist/guitarist Matthew Ravens, bassist/vocalist Simi Ravens and drummer Jon Rosenbaum. *Photo courtesy of Matthew Ravens

By Roberto Miranda

For those of you that do not know, rock music still looms in northern New Jersey. Consisting of only three members, post-punk, psychedelic rock band Ravens Ballroom has generated critical acclaim in just a short amount of time with the success of their first EP, “Rain Dance.”

Performing regularly in New York, headlining smaller venues, and having opened for protopunk singer David Johansen, Ravens Ballroom is looking to expand their audience to Hudson County and neighboring areas. Having been a fan of songs like “L’ A nima,”“Fat Cat Sinner,” and their live rendition of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” I got the chance to speak to NJCU student Simona Martore, also known as “Simi Ravens,” bassist of Ravens Ballroom.

RM: Please tell me a bit about yourself, JCU, and the other band members. I’m always intrigued to know something about a band’s off-stage persona, especially academics.

SR: My name is Simona Martore, performing under the name Simi Ravens. My role in the band is bass guitar, vocals and percussions. I currently live in Livingston, New Jersey, but I’m originally from Rome, Italy, where I was born and bred. My major is History. I have a 3.97 GPA.

The other members of the band are Matthew Lahm, performing under the name Matthew Ravens. He is both an employee and alumnus of NJCU with a BFA and MFA in Art. He’s the lead singer and guitarist. Jon Rosenbaum is our drummer.

RM: Where is the band currently based?

SR: It is based in Livingston, NJ.

RM: When did Ravens Ballroom originally form?

SR: Matt and I have been playing together for about ten years. We met Jon a couple of years ago, and we played together in another band until 2011. After- wards Jon, Matt and I formed Ravens Ballroom. Our previous band was a five- piece act. We decided to form a trio for a series of reasons. We were mostly looking for a purer, clearer sound. Furthermore, I played guitar in our last band, but Matt and I have such a strong melodic and rhythmic connection that we felt we needed to simplify our line-up to emphasize that. To support that, I transitioned to bass. As a trio, we achieved the sound and chemistry that we wanted.

RM: How much music altogether, including EP’s, singles, and so forth, has the band released?

SR: We released our first EP this past April. We will start recording our first full length album around January 2014. We left a lot of material that was written previously off the first record on purpose. The next album will feature some more introspective, powerful and edgy songs that we didn’t feel would have worked on the EP in terms of tone and theme. We write a lot of music, Matthew especially; we’re never short of material.

RM: Tell me about the music video, is it for L’Anima? Comment on the message, inspiration, and the names of any NJCU students involved.

SR: The video is for L’Anima, correct. Anima in Italian means soul. Matt wrote the lyrics and the music for the song thinking about Earth and its power to shake people’s lives. We can’t stop a volcano from erupting, and L’Anima is all about this aspect of the human condition: the mighty power of the elements. It’s a celebration of life in death. It is both metaphysical and worldly. We are very excited about this video. We are collaborating with James Impellizzeri, Rebecca Satz and Cameron Taddeo who are doing a great job interpreting the song.

RM: Great choice with L’Anima, I was wondering about its message; it’s undoubtedly an interesting tune, easily a favorite of mine the moment I heard the EP.

RM: Are there any upcoming events, or short term goals Ravens Ballroom is looking to achieve?

SR: Ravens Ballroom will perform at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ, on December 28. We will debut our video before our performance. It’s very exciting! That is the only show we have booked for the winter, because as I mentioned earlier, we will be busy recording our first full length album in the winter.

RM: Awesome, I’m familiar with that venue. I’m digging the idea of an NJCU affiliated, young band recording a full length; it’s been a while since I heard a full length album by a local rock group.

Thank you for your time.

For more information on Ravens Ballroom, please visit: http://www.ravens- ballroom.com and http://www.facebook. com/ravensballroom

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