(1) The Romans were one of Los Angeles’ first super-groups with members of the budding art/punk scene sweeping Southern California in the early 80’s. With members from Human Hands, Monitor, BPeople, The Deadbeats, 45 Grave, Consumers, Tikis, the LAFMS and Green on Red, The Romans added a unique voice to the “LA Punk” movement. While the explosive chemistry of The Romans was short lived, with only 2 full-length LPs ever recorded (their second LP produced by Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate), band members went on to make rock history with Mazzy Star and Opal. On the debut release, The Romans were Mikey Borens, Pat Delaney, Juan Gomez, Keith Mitchell, and Michael Uhlenkott, and was engineered by the legendary Paul Cutler. Their debut 1983 LP, You Only Live Once was released on cd with 8 bonus tracks by Warning Label Records.
(2) Powerful and very talented band from Maaseik, Belgium, which make music in the best tradition of Hüsker Dü, the Lemonheads, the Posies and Therapy!.
The two brothers Laurens & Chris Leurs and their friend Frank Coonen become runners-up in the 1988 final of Belgians biggest talent contest, Humo’s Rock Rally. After the mini-album Ball & Chain (Produced by Kloot Per W) and the full album Trigger Happy, they take a retreat. They perform as backing vocals for other Belgian Artists like De Mens, Ze Noiz and The Paranoiacs.
In 1993 they hit back real hard with “Major Panic”. Not less than four singles are released from this album : “Down down underground”, “Fire Brigade” (a Move cover), “Minneapolis” and “My friend Stan” (a Slade cover), all of which got raving critics and wide airplay. They tour the country extensively (e.g. as the opener for Iggy Pop).
Or as Knack put it in a review of the album “the Romans have plotted their revenge together with producer Paul Despiegelaere (see Machines). “Major Panic” plays in the first league of the best Belgians of all time and is miles ahead of almost everything that went through our hands in the last half year. That much praise is due to six songs of outstanding quality and their fine harmony in singing and living. They had it already and they found it again.”
In an article in Humo, the band is introduced as follows : “After the very good album”Trigger Happy” The Romans have been without a record contract for two years , so with less gigs, so with less airplay, so with less screaming teenagers in skintight jeans, because that’s how it goes. That is incomprehensible because (1) the new Major Panic is an excellent rock album and we wish the nitwit in the record company who caused the break a lot of itch and a short arm, and (2) in the meantime countless other groups in the world have had the opportunity to dump countless tons of shitty records on the world.”
1996 sees the release of another good album “Be my star” with the brilliant single “Someday Cindy” and “How slow” and “I am the liar”. Jacky Huys said about this record “We’ve always liked the chaps from the Romans, even though the guitar-rock on Be my Star isn’t really up-to-date and it begins to appear they’ve definitively missed their train to Top-ville”.
1998 has the next Romans album and a move to a new record company : Oyster Records. El Diablo was received well by the press, but apart from the curious single “”Space Girl”, which faired very well in De Afrekening, the album didn’t cause much of a stir. As the bio says : “But The Romans don’t let it go to their heart, as their primary concern is not ‘becoming famous’ but writing songs with a capital ‘S’.”
Although their talent is well-appreciated by the alternative rock-audience and recognized by the critics, they haven’t managed to produce a breakthrough to the general audience or markets abroad. But as Laurens Leurs said in 1993 “I am glad with our position as underdogs. It is the most comfortable position to be in as a musician. I don’t want to have to prove myself constantly. … The Romans will never be the next big thing.”.
In april 2000 The Romans compiled the best of their material they have recorded in the period from 1989 until 2000 on acompilation album, called “So Far”. There even is the release of a single, “Burn 2000”, a new version of the song that appeared on the mini-album “Ball & Chain”, got a lot of airplay but never got out on single-format.
In his latest newsletter to the fans, Laurens Leurs said “After 12 years of sweating, labouring, amusing us, rehearsing, manifesting us, we make a round-up of what the Romans have done to this day. This brings to an end an important period of the Romans. What now?! With this, the pages of the nineties’ book is definitely turned over. New ambitions need to found, new goals to be set. “You gotta walk and don’t look back”.
Only a few weeks later, the decision was made : The Romans split. The reason are no “artistic differences”, “ego-clashes” or solo-plans, but a feeling that everything has been done.
- Laurens Leurs (vocals, guitars)
- Chris Leurs (vocals, bass)
- Frank Coonen (drums)