RoShamBo on the Dance Floor
By: James Thomas, April 10, 2012
RoShamBo - Band members Matt Loomis, Jake Frye, Kristin Fehlau, and Nick Fromm.
“There’s not a big tale to tell,” RoShamBo bassist and co-founder Matt Loomis says of the Hyannis cover band’s origins.
“Guitarist Jay Frye and I decided that we wanted to play together a little over two years ago. We’d known each other for years, kinda competing and promoting different projects at the same clubs. We felt like it was time to combine forces,” Loomis says.
Coming up with the band name was pretty simple, Loomis says. He and Frye were watching an episode of Survivor, starring a contestant named Shambo.
“That led us to think of the word ‘roshambo,’ which has many urban definitions. If an old lady asks what it means, we say it's rocks, paper, scissors—and if a friend asks, we say it's a game invented by the Chinese where two guys kick each other in the balls willingly,” Loomis reveals.
“Really it's just an easily memorable, controversial word that seemed likely to stay in people’s minds.”
But it wasn’t that simple. Turns out, there is a tale to tell.
From the outset, Loomis and Frye wanted a girl singer to front. Hoping to host a slate of by-invitation auditions, they were cruising online profiles. One stood almost immediately: Kristin Fehlau.
Fehlau’s profile was outdated: she hadn’t been actively pursuing singing for a long time. The contact information was all wrong when they tried to reach her.
Just when they were about to audition other singers, Frye recognized Fehlau at the BBC in Hyannis from her profile picture.
“This is gonna sound crazy,” Frye told her, “but I’ve been messaging you.”
They agreed on a few tunes to try out. After only one practice, both Loomis and Frye were sold.
Loomis recalls the soundboard in their practice space was missing a delay effect, but Fehlau spotlessly emulated it with her natural voice. For Frye, the knockout punch was the running power slide she executed at the end of the last tune.
Fehlau was fearless, and they knew it.
But they never got the chance to offer her the gig. “I’m hired,” she said, offering it to herself.
“I got overly excited,” she laughs. “It was the most fun and the best time I’d had in a long time. I was at a point in my life where I really needed this.”
Catering to the crowds
RoShamBo isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. They’re an awesome bar band and that’s exactly what they intend to be.
“We just wanted to get busy, same as anyone else,” Loomis says. “As much as you want everyone to be happy, you also want to feel loved.”
“We can tailor to the crowd,” Frye explains. “Older crowd: hit the classic vinyl hard. Younger crowd: play the stuff on the radio. Get the young girls dancing, that gets the dudes up dancing, that gets the booze movin.’”
“We’re going for mainstream, not cliché,” Fehlau says. “We try to surprise people. My favorite thing is when someone says, ‘Your version of that song made me like it.’”
Frye reserves a little corner of the music just for himself. All of his guitar solos are improvised and that’s where he interjects his own spirit and creativity into the band.
As for the new—and finally permanent—drummer, Nick Fromm, his take on the whole thing is pretty simple: “I’m in. Hell yeah.”
RoShamBo is gearing up for a summer booked a steady four to five nights a week.
“We’re not trying to murder anybody,” Loomis says. “No one wants to jump off the cliff right now, but we’re definitely in the ‘creep up to the edge and look down’ stage.”
For Fehlau, the details will work themselves out. “It makes people happy; it makes people have a good time. That’s all that matters.”