The No Label Needed Contest & Series is a collaboration between Metal Insider and Scion to give one unsigned artist an entire DIY music industry education and launch a release without the help of a label. We’ll be posting features and updates on the contest & series periodically on Metal Insider. Find out more about No Label Needed here.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of the No Label Needed finalists. Today, we’re featuring We Are The Romans.
Formed in 2003 in New York City, the band is comprised of Mohamed “Mo” Kofuma on vocals, Mike Ranne on drums, Evan Cohen on bass and Steve Visone and Jerry DeLorenzo on guitar. Cohen took some time aside from campaigning for the lead in public votes to answer a few of our questions.
Why should people vote for you over the other finalists?
I know it’s clichéd as all hell, but we want it more. We’re hungrier. You don’t live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, rent your own apartment, pay your own bills and try to get a band off the ground, unless you want the latter more than anything in the world. There’s no trust funds here, no outside investors, just five crazy, working-class guys who are more passionate and more dedicated to their art and their craft than just about anyone you’ll meet. All we want is for the world to take notice of what we do. If we win, we’ll give the EP away digitally, we’ll tour constantly and play for the cost of gas and food just to get to you, all we want is that the world knows We Are the Romans.
What has been your most challenging moment as an unsigned metal band?
Is every day an acceptable response? It’s all about the hustle and bustle, just trying to get people to pay attention to your music, convince promoters to book you and fans to come out, and frankly, figuring out how to afford all the bills and costs that come with being in a band. We’ve faced a lot of adversity as a band, but every challenge is a learning experience and hopefully just another drop in the bucket towards pursuing music as a career.
What’s been your greatest highlight?
We got the opportunity to showcase about a year ago in Virgina Beach, while it didn’t pan out as we’d hoped, getting the opportunity to get outside of our local scene but still see kids into what we’re doing was really fulfilling. Also, we recently received an email from a terminally ill fan who said our music has helped him get through a lot of his treatments… that really reminded us why we do what we do and more specifically that we don’t just do this for ourselves.
What is the local scene like in your home town?
We’re primarily based in NYC, so the scene is a cross between signed acts playing Clear Channel A-market venues, and on the other side is a million underground bands all fighting for the same little slice of attention in a myriad of tiny clubs. It’s thriving and booming but its also ruthless and competitive… droves of rats all clawing for the same piece of cheese.
What metal trend would you like to see end?
The overall homogenization, commercialization and “blandification” of metal. Complex drum syncopations under open-note chugs over five minutes do not make a song. The need to seek out dumbed down oversimplified bands and then propel them to levels of idolatry is no different than the course taken for pop stars. Not to be an elitist, but I think metal deserves better than that. Our top artists should not just entertain you but challenge you as a listener. Whether or not our stuff does that is up to the fans to decide.
Public voting for the No Label Needed Contest & Series presented by Scion runs through March 8. Visit the No Label Needed microsite to listen to We Are The Romans and the 19 other finalists and cast your vote!