“Woo-woo-whoopidy doodles!” The mic cuts in on Romak, leader of electropop band Romak and the Space Pirates (RATSP), in the middle of an impersonation of a woman having a hot flash in a salon.
Sipping coffee in a vintage polyester dress, Romak radiates between Shirley Partridge and Rudolph Valentino, but with better eyebrows than either and a categorical knowledge of modern Southern California culture that is filtered through merciless pop parodies.
When Romak mentions that a friend of theirs recently pledged enough to KPFK to get Henry Rollins to record a personal greeting for his voicemail, I can’t help but ask…
Marianne Williams: Who, of all celebrities, would you choose to record the voicemail message on your mobile phone?
Romak: Maybe Winona Ryder, or the comedian that played Stiffler’s mom. . . anyone would be cool, I guess. My natural instinct is to go for worst yet best, the most “bgood” possible, so I’d probably choose Gilbert Gottfried, like, “HEEEEYYYYY YOU’VE REACHED ROMAK’S VOICEMAIL RRRRRRGGBHHAA”.
Marianne Williams: Maybe he could introduce the band next time you play live.
Romak: Perfect for Romak and the Space Pirates.
Marianne Williams: Besides Gottfried, what are some of the main influences on your sound?
Romak: D Bene, our keyboard player who does most of our programming, is huge into Gabber, 2step and other sub-genres of electronic music. That’s our underlying sound, but I like writing what could be considered pop songs. If it were possible to take an anarchic approach to writing pop songs, that’s what I would say that we do. But, you can’t really be anarchic and write a pop song. How anarchic can you be when you go back to the chorus?
Marianne Williams: How do you write your lyrics?
Romak: I try to write everything down as I think of it, then tie it all together later to music I get from the boys (Tlr, Rogie and D Bene). But sometimes it’s like connecting the dots, or finding pictures in constellations. You’re supposed to see a moose up there, but you have to make it appear yourself. I think the constellations are bullshit.
Marianne Williams: You’re from Southern California. Do you like Disneyland?
Romak: No, I haven’t been in years. I didn’t even go on my birthday.
Marianne Williams: You don’t like it?!
Romak: It’s not that. I was recently informed of this underground group of people via blogs on the internet. These people go on amusement park rides and poo off them for thrills. It’s crazy, they start small with rides that are easy to poo off of, like Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World, and you go up and up and up until you’re in the big leagues like Splash Mountain. The thrill pooers risk their lives, people have died doing this.
Marianne Williams: Lady Caca’s day at Disneyland?
Romak: I’m sure that people in the thrill pooing community listen to Lady Caca. One day she will play at Tomorrowland.
Marianne Williams: Like Bob Moog in the 60s? Well, I can’t wait for her show in July.
Romak: Yes, she’s doing her debut performance of her one song, the hit internet single “Just Poo” at Monkeybucket’s birthday show in July. I’m really excited for her to play. She’s really raunchy, there’s just no stopping her.
Marianne Williams: You’re quite busy, balancing RATSP and other music projects with beauty school.
Romak: Beauty school has been really dramatic. I’ve traded prescriptions with teachers, once we rode the carousel drunk when we were supposed to be doing an in store makeup gig. One lady strait up had a baby while she was getting her hair done at school. She was trying to conceal it, but I was rolling her perm and she kept grunting. When we stood up to wash her out, the baby just fell out. It was terrifying. I’ve never seen a woman who wanted a perm so bad in my entire life.
Marianne Williams: Drama follows you?
Romak: Our shows, videos, the way I dress… I want everything to be as fantastic as possible, but I also want it to be real. A lot of people still think you need to be grungy to be an artist, that leftover 90s shame about glamor, glitter, and visual persona. I understand both sides. Sometimes I want to collaborate with real, cool designers for show clothes. Sometimes, I want to play a show in an oversize, smelly night shirt.
Marianne Williams: Well, you’ve got to do what you want.
Romak: Then, part of me thinks… “Is this too much? Is it too showy if I wear tampons in my hair?” Maybe you have to become what you hate before you figure out what you like. You have to try to walk in all shoes possible. Flats, heels. Pretty much just flats or heels.
Marianne Williams: Did you watch a lot of TV growing up?
Romak: Since I was a kid, I’ve put celebrities and pop culture icons on the same levels as ghoulies, gremlins, Chupacabra. I believe they exist, and I like big, weird things. I like it when reality and fantasy become blurred. I like seeing the Chupacabra and never letting go of the childhood excitement. When Kathleen Hanna responded to my fan letter, it was so awesome. She’s a real person! Meeting someone like, you know, Weird Al or Emily Haines or something. . . being starstruck is not “cool” but I hope I never lose that excitement.
Marianne Williams: I’ve heard that every time you stop believing, a celebrity dies.
Romak: I believe in the Chupacabra. I believe in dreams coming true. I believe in wishing on a star, and crying when you meeting one.
Find Romak and the Space Pirates at http://www.myspace.com/romakandthespacepirates