IT ALL STARTED WITH A PREACHER
by Andy Roman
Bobby and I are big fans of “origin stories” and “back stories.”
And I figured that since we’ve gotten a bunch of emails and messages asking us how Elm Treason got together, I’d quickly share ours.
As a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, I appreciate the irony of having met my musical soulmate in, of all places, a church. As they say, “Every good rock ‘n’ roll story starts with a preacher.”
I was (and still am) married to Amy (not Jewish). We met in Florida, lived in Ohio, then moved to New York. (Domestic nomads). For me, it was a long-awaited return home. I was thrilled – and ready.
In my formative years, I did my time busking in the East Village, playing clubs, the whole bit. Being back home, I felt my musical juices flowing again. I had a new spring in my step… even if I had to occasionally accompany my wife to church.
When she wasn’t busy poking me in the ribs every time I was nodding off asleep (not nearly as many times as she’d make you think), she was pointing out how good the piano player was. “Just listen to what he’s playing!” she would say, “He’s real good isn’t he?” This became a weekly thing, this outpouring of love for the keyboard player. “You know, I bet he was classically trained….”
“Yes, love. I’m sure he was….”
While her constant gushing was becoming tedious, I had to admit he was damn good.
One day after services, I was chatting with the preacher’s husband about the Beatles’ “LET IT BE” album. This wasn’t out of the ordinary, as I’m a certified Beatlemaniac. We were specifically discussing the George Harrison tune “I Me Mine”, when all of a sudden I hear a voice come busting in from behind me in what I would call the quintessential Staten Island accent, “Ya know, it was the last song they ever recorded!” I turned around, and lo and behold, it was Mister Piano Player himself!
At that exact moment, up walks the preacher.
“Andy, have you met our church accompanist?” she asked.
(Every good rock ‘n’ roll story starts with a preacher,” right?)
“Andy Roman. Bobby Steel.”
We became fast friends.
Anyway, my wife’s birthday was quickly approaching, and I had long toyed with the idea of recording a few of the songs I had written for her over the years and giving them to her as a gift. In the past I’d always stalled out. I knew I needed a collaborator who could hold me accountable, push me. I needed someone who could really play and bring something unique to the table.
I told him I had these “love songs” that I wanted to cut properly and that I’d love for him to play on them. He just about rolled his eyes at the phrase “love songs” (as I probably would have), but he agreed to give them a listen. (For the record, I’m not a “love songs” kind of guy either).
No doubt he was expecting something “sappy,” but when I started playing, his ears perked up. I remember the expression on his face – that look of, “This is not what I was expecting.” He was impressed with my writing. He said so.
I even sweetened the pot for him, “Treat these tunes like your own,” I said, “Do whatever you want to make ‘em better. No limitations. Have at it!” Later, he said that the “creative carte blanche” I gave him sealed the deal.
We got to work and it flowed. Really flowed. It just felt right – so much so that Bobby and I mutually felt that maybe this “birthday” collaboration could become an actual thing – not just a one-off. We decided to officially become a band.
The legend of Elm Treason was born.
there you go. Missive over.