During the years I was not in a band, my musical taste began to change. I was becoming less interested in writing the most complicated bass line possible and more interested in writing good songs. Since it is somewhat limiting to write songs on the bass, I decided to learn a more melodic instrument. I chose to teach myself the guitar. Being a bass player helped some, but I still really sucked at first. Slowly but surely, however, I became proficient enough to get my song ideas across.
When I formed Trip Romeo, my goal was to form a band that played well written, commercial (but heavy) hard rock music. I was basically striving for a sound somewhere between Skid Row and Metallica. I also wanted to make sure everyone in the band looked the part. This was back in the days where band image was very important, at least for the style of music we were doing.
The first guy I got in the band was a drummer named Tom Giere. I had originally met him in the Salem Spade days. He was a real good drummer who also came from a technical metal background. We seemed to be on the same basic page musically.
The next guy I got for the band was a guitar player named Kevin Larkin. He came from a very commercial rock background. He was an excellent guitar player with a truly natural talent for the guitar.
We looked for what seemed like forever to find a suitable second guitarist. Finally, I got a call from this seventeen-year-old kid named Hercules who wanted to audition. We were getting desperate so we set up an audition. It took me about 15 seconds of hearing him play before I invited him to join the band. He was a very good player.
With the band complete, we began rehearsing a couple of times a week. We rented out a really cool practice space. It was about the size of a five car garage. It had no windows and we painted all the walls and the ceiling purple. Tom set up his drum riser and we put two big Trip Romeo banners on each side of the drums. Our practice space essentially looked like a stage. Things were finally starting to feel like a real band.
Tom and I began hanging out a lot and became good friends. I remember we would hang out many times after practice, drinking too much beer and talking about God knows what. Neither of us cared about how late it got. More than once when we decided to call it a night, we were blinded by the morning sun as we opened the door of our windowless practice space.
There were not a lot of places to play in Colorado Springs, but we played when we could. We also went to Denver (60 miles north of Colorado Springs) a few times and played some clubs there. We probably played an average of once or twice a month.
Trip Romeo recorded two demo tapes between 1991 and 1992. The first tape had three solid yet unremarkable songs. It was a decent demo, but we had not reached our potential at that point. The next tape we recorded was called "Locked and Framed". This was a strong demo with five well-written commercial hard rock songs. I remember we had a friend named Jimmy Paladino who was a DJ at the big rock station in town. He interviewed us on the air a couple of times and played our songs on the radio frequently during his show.
By 1992, things were going fairly well for the band, but we were having a hard time moving beyond the local scene. I remember receiving a call from my friend Wendy Pearlstein around this time. She told me about this band in Denver called "Free The Werewolves" (later known as The Hippie Werewolves) who were looking for a bass player. They were a very popular band. I met briefly with their manager and got a copy of their demo. It was very good. I seriously considered pursuing that opportunity but decided against it because I had a lot invested in Trip Romeo and I was still going to college in Colorado Springs.
About another month went by when I got a call from a Denver friend of mine named Danny. He told me about this band called "Valor" that was looking for a bassist. From what I heard, they were the best band in Colorado. I decided to set up an audition. To be honest, I just wanted to check out the "best band" in Colorado and see how Trip Romeo compared. I was not very interested in quitting Trip Romeo and joining a band in another city.
The day of the audition, I drove to Denver. I had acquired one of their tapes and was prepared to play three or four songs. I met the guys and they seemed nice enough. We played the songs I knew and everything sounded fine. Afterwards, they asked me to leave for about 30 minutes while they had a meeting, just enough time for me to go to Burger King. When I came back, I was expecting them to say something like "If we are interested, we will call you in a few weeks to set up another audition". Instead, the drummer (Junior) told me I was hired(!) and told me practices were on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays. I guess they figured that since I was auditioning for their band, I wanted to join. I was surprised. I agreed to join in order to buy some time to decide if I really wanted to quit Trip Romeo and join a band in Denver.
Over the next few days, I wrestled with my conscious. In the end, I decided to join Valor. I did not see what they had over Trip Romeo, but I could not deny their popularity. I also realized how hard I had been working over the years to get in a good band. Without moving to Los Angeles, Valor was the best chance I had at making it. I had to make a move.
I remember calling the guys from Trip Romeo together to tell them I was leaving the band. Realistically, I knew that the band would not continue without me. It was a hard meeting for me but the guys all took it well. That night, Trip Romeo ended forever and I was about to embark on a life-changing journey.
I look back with much fondness when I think about that time of my life. It was a time when I had the perfect combination of great freedom and little responsibility. I was twenty-one, about to obtain my Bachelors Degree and playing for one of the biggest unsigned rock bands in the county. I can't imagine that life gets much better than that.
Regarding the guys in Trip Romeo, Hercules soon went on to join another big band in Colorado Springs. Kevin ended up getting married and moving to Arizona. Unfortunately, I have lost track of him but hope he is doing well. He was one of the few people that got where I was coming from. As for Tom, we said goodbye. Unbeknownst to us, we would meet up again a few years later.
I was now the bass player for Valor and things were about to get crazy.