Tony Romanello and the Black Jackets
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Tony Romanello and the Black Jackets

Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Return of the Rocker"

Oct. 11, 2006

Anybody who’s been plugged into Tulsa’s local music scene for very long knows our old friend Tony Romanello. He’s been out of the rader lately while attending grad school down in Waco, (ugh) Texas.

We did get a “hit and run” weekend of rock’n’roll in May when Romanello returned to play Mercury Lounge and Mayfest before disappearing again over the summer for some overseas studies.

Even if he’d just mined his back catalogue and played some old favorites the audiences would have been happy, but Tony’s never one rest on past accomplishments. Instead, he showed up with a new six-song EP, Rock ‘n Roll Fairytales, in hand.

Whereas Tony’s last record, the band-oriented TRB disc, was a slick, highly produced affair, Fairytales stripped away the gloss to rock with the reckless abandon of a garage band. It also marked a return to Tony’s solo voice and indie-rock aesthetic, making it a disc that fans of Mumbleodd or even the Shades of Grey EP should love.

After another extended quiet period, Tony returns for a show this Friday night, October 13, at [CHANGE OF VENUE: MERCURY LOUNGE]. Romanello’s old partner in crime, Andy Callis, will be there on guitar and Tony has also recruited drummer Mike Friedmann and bassist Mike Taylor for the weekend, so they can rumble through a selection of songs from throughout Romanello’s career.

When I caught up with Tony recently he admitted that he’d like to be able to get back to play more often; personal schedules and geography haven’t been cooperative. But Tony will actually be back again in a couple of weeks for Freaker’s Ball at the Cain’s Ballroom on Oct. 28. More information on the annual Halloween bash is forthcoming, but Romanello will be pulling double duty this year, performing with his solo band as well as being part of the annual Team Galaxy gathering with Davit Souders and his host of crazies…

And lest you think all Tony has been doing is studying, he’s also been busy compiling tracks for Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Volume 2, another disc of rarities from the Romanello vault. Volume 1 came out back in 2000 and contained previously unreleased songs, alternate takes and demos recorded between 1996 and 2000.

The new disc will feature recordings from 2000 through the present. As Tony explained it, “I’m always writing and recording in some form or another, and I end up with extra songs lying around. This gives me an avenue to get some of that material out that didn’t fit on another record…”

We might see Volume 2 arrive just in time for the Freaker’s Ball gig at the end of the month.

Adam Lopez, who was mentioned last week, will be on the bill as well, so it will be a full night of rock’n’roll and cover is only $5.

- Urban Tulsa Weekly

"Romanell is Back"

Romanello is back: Rocker returns with a new band, new disc and plenty of 'tude
Matt Gleason, The Tulsa World
May 19, 2006

Tony Romanello, all of 29, isn't ready to hang up his Les Paul for good, despite what some people may have thought after he disbanded his local group, the TRB, last year. Yes, Romanello, who's synonymous with thought-provoking, blow-your-hair-back rock ditties, has indeed kept a low-profile ever since. He even moved to Waco to get a master's degree at Baylor University. But the singer/guitarist is set to make a grand reemergence on the local scene this weekend. He'll play Mercury Lounge, Friday, and Mayfest, Saturday.

"It's going to be different from what people have experienced," Romanello said, "but I think it's going to be vibrant, rockin', raw and rock 'n roll." His new band features TRB alumnus Andy Callis on guitar; bassist Matt Vandaveer, who played with the singer in his defunct Norman-based group Murmur; Mike Friedemann on drums, and Philip Zoellner, a local star himself, on keys/wurlitzer. Romanello and company will perform older tunes from "The MumbleOdd" (2000), "Shades of Grey EP" (2001) and "Counting Stars" (2002), but Romanello hasn't returned to the scene empty-handed. His new, six-song "Rock 'n Roll Fairytales EP" finds Romanello unleashing propulsive, grandiose rock tunes that come complete with squealing, distorted guitar riffs, '80's-style keyboard accents, and Friedemann's huge drum solos that harken back to the bombastic heyday of John Bonham.

For his vocals, the singer who produced most of the EP in his home studio, had a distinct sound in mind. "We went for like an old Elvis sound but distorted," Romanello explained. "It's kind of got a modern sound but with that echo Sun Records did all the time. It's trying to make things teeter on the edge of being a little too abrasive but also being accessible, so if people hear it they're wondering, 'What is that? I need to hear that again. What's going on?' "

Romanello also had a vision for his guitar parts, which were recorded at Trent Bell's Bell Labs Studios in Norman. "I stayed completely away from fuzz and no clean (tone)," Romanello said. "I was having some challenges coming up with the right guitar tone I wanted for this record. I wanted something to sound kind of retro-ish but also have some bite to it."

The lyrical content contains a bit of Romanello's disillusionment with the music industry, as is evidenced in the aptly-titled lead track "Rock 'n Roll Is a Fairytale." "It's almost tongue and cheek that 'Where are the rock 'n roll stars these days? Where are the good rock and roll songs?' " Romanello said. "It seems like you can listen to the old stuff -- Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Kinks -- and you can hear rock 'n roll. These days, I don't know if that's really around or not. If it is, you're not hearing it on the radio or TV."

Romanello closes out the disc with the six-minute epic "The Last Bar Chord Ever Played," in which he laments rock isn't what it used to be. "It's obviously a turning point in the whole disc," Romanello said. "So you set up the disc with all these over-the-top rock songs and here's this kind of ballad, halfway, talking about playing the last bar chord, you know, after kind of questioning the whole time 'Is rock 'n roll even around?' "

Well, rock will definitely be around Tulsa this weekend.

Romanello's back.

- Tulsa World

"Lo-down on 'Lo-Fi'"

Lo-down on 'Lo-Fi': Tony Romanello goes solo to put the focus on making music
Matt Elliott, The Tulsa World
Feb 16, 2007

Singer/songwriter Tony Romanello dissolved his popular local band to go it alone again, to return to what he loves about music, and the Internet is helping him. The former-Tulsan's new album, "Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. 2," came out Tuesday but you won't catch him playing a release party or pushing a single to radio stations. It takes a huge amount of money and time to write, record, promote and distribute a new album recorded in a studio, he said. That's money that most indie artists such as Romanello, a 29-year-old Baylor University graduate student, don't have. Then, there's working out a distribution deal so your album can end up in stores.

Romanello, who lives in Waco, is free of that pressure now largely thanks to his decision in 2005 to quit his group, the Tony Romanello Band. The band released its first EP in 2001 and a few more releases followed, but he grew tired of the grind trying to get the band signed, he said.

"Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. 2" is Romanello's sequel to 2000's "Vol. 1," which he put out a few years back as his second solo CD. This one, comprised of newer material and older stuff, ranges from guitar-driven country sludge-rock to sweeping indie pop and acoustic songs "No Regrets" and "Everything." On one song, "Streets of Tulsa," he's wandering around with his friends a few years ago, wondering what he's doing in his hometown and what he'll do with his life. "Picturebook" has a looking-back quality to it, a newer song featuring a sparse beat, scratchy distant vocals and an isolated atmosphere. "

"It's not made with any type of goal or intention like a big album that you're going to service to college radio or you know like some of the TRB stuff when we were getting spins on the (104.5 FM, KMYZ) Edge ." So, you won't hear this one too much on local radio (you can hear it on Davit Souders' Local Flavors radio show at 7 p.m. Monday on KRSC, 91.3 FM), but you can buy it at Borders in Tulsa next Tuesday Feb 20. It's already available online through his Web sites,, and, as well as

He's relying on the Internet to push his album, including a music store and its network of information-superhighway peers. Further innovating Internet music, Myspace even has a music sale service that offers songs for 99 cents, Romanello said. "It destroys the whole concept of an album really, so guys like me that have home recording studios and that can write some songs ... I can go back today, write a song, get it up on the Internet that night, completely bypass you know the old framework," he said.

Nielsen SoundScan results for last year state that music lovers bought fewer digital and conventional albums and more single digital tracks. Some argue that the phenomenon is bad for artists, marking a shift from albums to single songs, he said. "I think that's the big debate right now," said Romanello, whose new album will be his eighth release. "(Pink Floyd's) 'Dark Side of the Moon' would not have been what it was if you just listened to the singles separately," he said.

No matter what happens with the Internet, for Romanello it's still about making music and getting it to his listeners. Vol. 2 is his latest installment, free of the frustrations of trying to sell himself to a record label. "It kind of flows in a neat way ... because they weren't written for any particular release," he said. "These are all kind of oddball songs, but in a weird way, they fit together."

- Tulsa World

"CD Review: Counting Stars"

CD Review: Counting Stars
By - Glen Sarvady
CMJ New Music Monthly (New York, NY) 2003

Its hard to rattle off the names of many bands from Tony Romanello's Tulsa stomping grounds but the Flaming Lips (from nearby Oklahoma City) inevitably spring to mind. Sure enough, Lips' drummer Steven Drozd plays throughout Romanello's 3rd solo disc, and Counting Stars shows a fondness for the orchestral flourishes that Wayne Coyne's crew has brought to its recent work. The similarities stop there, however - Romanello's symphonic grandeur is less synthetic and more front-and-center. For his most successful compositions, his ensemble swells to 12, including a full string quartet, and a four-piece horn section. The Beatles-esque "An Insomniac's Diary" sports an aching sweetness that recalls Rufus Wainright. Beneath the strings and horns, though, beats the heart of a power popper. (Here's some potential geographic significance: genre forefather Dwight Twilley hailed from Tulsa.) While Romanello's rock past in Murmur only makes itself known in his electric guitar on the edgier "Novocaine" and "Finally Found," it's easy to imagine most of these tunes delivered in a straightforward guitar/guitar/bass/drums setting. Unfortunately, Romanello's budget and inspiration wane before he runs out of disc, and on a few less-ardorned tracks he comes across as an overwrought coffeehouse folkie. Though too precious in spots, Counting Stars offers enough inventive twists and fresh energy to collar a pop fan's attention.

- CMJ New Music Monthly

"CD Review"

CD Review: Counting Stars
By - Jim Allen
UNCUT Magazine (London, U.K.)

"Paisly Meets Flannel in Tulsa, OK... Remember back in 1995 when Eric Matthew's mix of contemporary rock sonorities and Brian Wilson production values (It's Heavy in Here) was supposed to be the cat's pajamas?

Well, singer-songwriter Tony Romanello from Oklahoma has finally delivered on that promise. Post-Sergeant Pepper glockenspiel and horn section lead into Jeff Buckleyesque wailing. String quartets give way to distortion-laden guitars.

The presence of Flaming Lips skin-pounder and multi-tasking whiz Steve Drozd is further clue that Counting Stars is psych-pop successfully made modern."

- Uncut

"CD Review: Counting"

CD Review: Counting Stars
By Tom Maxwell
Modern Fix Magazine (Los Angeles, CA)

It seems the Frog Queen Jeremy Enigk has been dethroned. The former Murmur front man Tony Romanello has really outdone himself with this album, but don't let the name fool you because Tony gets plenty of help. Most of these songs have an orchestral feeling because of the strings and horns which come in the form of piano, cello, viola, sax, trumpet, and trombone. Tony's arrangements of the songs are immaculate and beautiful on so many different levels. On the surface is a pop wonderland of catchy interludes and amazing vocal ability, but if you are willing to fully download the whole album you will find extremely complete songs with deep and meaningful lyrical themes. "Counting Stars" frequently frequently changes gears from a purely pop stripped down acoustic song to a very grungy Murmur type of song, but definitely is careful not to steer too far off course. most notable are the tracks "An Insomniac's Diary", "Finally Found", and "Why Reminisce". The Slide guitar in "Why Reminisce" sends chills down my spine just like good music should. This guy really wants to identify with his listeners and his unabashed for of getting his point across makes him the new Frog Queen. My hat is off.

- Modern Fix


Chasing Airwaves (2016)
Pleased to Meet Us EP (2012)
The Redux: Selections from Counting Stars and the MumbleOdd (2011)
Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo Vol. II (2007)
Rock N' Roll Fairytales EP (2006)
TRB (2004)
Counting Stars (2003)
Where Are You Tonight? EP (2003)
Shades of Grey EP (2001)
The MumbleOdd (2000)
Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo Vol I (2000)



Chasing Airwaves is the latest album from Tulsa rock mainstays, Tony Romanello and the Black Jackets. In addition to the pounding drums, melodic bass, and three-guitar musings of past Black Jackets compositions, this album also features a fresh palette of keys, synths, and samples. But make no mistakes, this is rock. And 'rock' is what these guys do, and have been doing together in one form or fashion for a long while. Hints of the 80's, 90's, and 2000's are all present here in this eclectic wall of sound - - packaged together nicely pairing pop hooks with static riffs via this troupe of admitted (and proud of it!) fuzzed out rawkers.

Chasing Airwaves follows on the heels of the 2012 EP, Pleased To Meet Us, which saw Romanello reuniting with several past partners-in-crime to form the Black Jackets: 2006’s Rock and Roll Fairytales EP drummer, Mike Friedemann, returns with equal parts punch and finesse; Magnificently melodic and rock-steady bassist Matt Vandaveer teams up for the first time since Murmur’s 1999 EP; Former TRB staple, Andy Callis, and long-time friend, Mike Taylor, brilliantly provide the balance to the wall of sound by solidifying the oft-attempted, but rarely-effective, three-guitar assault. In a modern world dominated by hipster indie crooners and stud nickel backers, the Black Jackets offer no whiny excuses or overblown delusions - - only the promise of good things to come.


After playing in a number of bands between Tulsa and Norman, OK early in his musical career, Romanello crept onto the indie scene by working with members of Oklahoma alt icons Chainsaw Kittens and Flaming Lips. He dropped three solo CD's: Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. I (2000), The MumbleOdd (2000), and Counting Stars (2003) to consistent rave reviews throughout CMJ Radio (Counting Stars - no. 65 Spring '03) and international press (CMJ, Uncut, Pop Culture Press). Counting Stars even boasted the drumming of Lips' maestro Steven Drozd as well as a full horn and string ensemble. The comparisons in the media ranged from the abstract (Jeff Buckley, Jeremy Enigk, Catherine Wheel) to the concrete (Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Queens of the Stoneage).

After bowing to requests to hit the regional alternative rock circuit, Romanello diverged from his solo work to form TRB as a tangible rock and roll unit. The band released the Where Are You Tonight? EP (2003), and TRB s/t (2004). These releases garnered the band a taste of major commercial radio success ("Where Are You Tonight?" and "Better Days" added to KMYZ summer 2003 & Fall 2004) and attracted a significant amount of industry attention. The fans of his hometown of Tulsa, OK responded by voting him and the band multiple awards over this span, including Artist of the Year in 2002.

In 2005 he left TRB, relocated to Texas, and returned to his solo work. He released the Rock 'n Roll Fairytales EP in summer of 2006 featuring Mike Friedemann's bombastic drums, and his craftwork on everything else - ranging from the usual smooth vocal and crunchy guitar duties to whirling keyboards, fuzzed out bass, and retro keys. January 2007 saw the release of Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. 2. The album, a compilation of songs from 2001-2006, runs a spectrum from lo-fi anthems to hi-fi rockers.

In 2009, Romanello returned to his hometown of Tulsa, OK and formed The Black Jackets.