Romulus Rex
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Romulus Rex

Band Rock Alternative


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"Romulus Rex Takes 'The Forest' Live"

Yes, Romulus Rex is still around, in case you were wondering.

Their self-created and recorded rock opera, “The Forest” will make its first appearance off Mount Desert Island at The Grand in Ellsworth this Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 p.m. Romulus Rex says this performance will be bigger and better than ever.

“We don’t have a new album,” said keyboard player Chris Doyle, “but we have a lot of new material.”

Under new direction, the four Mount Desert Island High School juniors have honed their skills and taken a year to develop their program that premiered last spring. Weslea Sidon, a special education teacher, as well as a guitarist and a poet, has been working with Romulus Rex, pushing them to a new height.

“She’s very honest with us,” said bass player Fox Schwach, “ and I think that helped us out a lot.”

The original rock opera was made up of 11 songs influenced by reggae, alternative rock and jazz. It is a rock opera in the same vein as Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and tells a story through the music.

“We’ve added more interactive things into the music,” said guitarist Welly Bacon.

“The Forest” is the tale of a man named Geoff who leaves his corporate job and the chaos of the city and finds his way to a fantastic fungus forest. His corporate ideas eventually catch up to him in the forest and lead to its destruction, at great cost. Listeners will notice the influence of Dr. Seuss and J.R.R. Tolkien in the anti-corporation tale.

Each of the band members, Fox, Chris, Welly, and David Palazola, contributed to the creation of the story and music, wrote the songs, played the instruments, and recorded the CD with the help of Zach Soares. The multitalented musicians often play more than one instrument as well as sing on the CD.

“Their work has an integrity that people this young don’t have,” said Ms. Sidon. “It’s a question of holding up a slightly higher standard.”

The group is pulling out all the stops for their one-night-only performance in Ellsworth. A jazz combo made up of musician all-stars from MDI High and George Stevens Academy will open the show. Theater alumnus Jarred Pasha will narrate “The Forest.” The stage will be enlivened with dancers, singers, artists painting on canvas and forest-size mushrooms.

A few new tunes will be added to “The Forest,” but mostly, fans will be treated to an improvement on the original piece. Will it be different?

“Different enough that people have to hear it,” said Welly, encouraging folks to attend. - Mount Desert Islander, 6/1/06

"Young MDI Band To Perform Album"

The practice room at Mount Desert Island High School exploded with sound Thursday as the four sophomores in the band Romulus Rex rehearsed their new rock opera, "The Forest."

Welly Bacon, Chris Doyle, David Palazola, and Fox Schwach, all 16, launched into a climactic song from the album as singers from the school chorus chimed in. The group was practicing for their benefit concert tonight, and the excitement was as thick in the air as the reverberations from the electric guitars.

"It should be a cool show," Chris Doyle said. "The album's good, and the show should be fun."

"The Forest" tells the story of a city man named Geoff who finds his way into an enchanted forest. His adventures are related through the band's music, described by Schwach as "mellow rock with classic rock overtones," and by Doyle as "chill." The teens are wholly responsible for the album's concept, music and lyrics, and its semester-long creation could be the subject of another rock opera. "We came up with the idea in the middle of the night," Bacon said of "The Forest." "We'd had a lot of coffee and it was probably 4 in the morning."

The road from caffeine-fueled conception to recording the album was not easy. The teens were able to take an independent study class at the high school that allowed them to focus on "The Forest." Local musician Miriama Broady mentored the students through the ups and downs of creating the album, which was recorded by Sach Soares of Bar Harbor. Studio time and recording fees added up quickly, to about $7000. The project was funded entirely by the students of Romulus Rex and their families. "It was quite a bit of cash," Bacon said. "We're kind of in debt to our parents at this point."

By Thursday's rehearsal, the intensive three months the teens spent working on the project seemed to have payed off in dividends. Backup singers smiled and danced to the music as they lent their voices to the waves of sound that poured from the band's instruments. Broady looked gleeful as she directed the singers and listened to Romulus Rex.

"I'm really proud of them," she said. "They're just really talented. I was amazed with the depth of what they came up with, and the music and the lyrics. They're great." - Bangor Daily News, 6/3/05

"Romulus Rex Rocks Out"

One expects to hear of high school students writing essays, book reports, term papers and even, from time to time, songs and poetry. But an opera? I don't think so.

Well, perhaps if one puts the qualifier, "rock" in front of the "O" word it makes a bit more sense. But it's still hard to imagine a group of teenagers putting together the lyrics, tunes and story for a fully realized opera, rock or otherwise.

But that is just what a talented crew of Mount Desert Island High School sophomores have done. After several months of collaboration, Chris Doyle, Welly Bacon, Fox Schwach and David Palazola, who collectively call themselves Romulus Rex, are about to release their first CD, the rock opera style, "The Forest." To celebrate the event and to raise money for future projects of this sort, they will be performing a concert version Friday June 3, 7 pm at the Higgins-Demas Auditorium of MDI High School.

"The Forest" might be described as a tragic fantasy involving gnomes, greed and giant mushrooms in a Frodo-Baggins-meets-Franz-Kafka-the-forest-of -teenage-angst sort of tale.

While the story and some of the lyrics take a rather bleak look at life, i.e., "The man in charge is wearing black/he speaks to me, says to me/ You think therefore you will fall," the music behind it is pretty smooth and melodic--no shrieking and head banging, and some of the musical themes repeat themselves throughout, tying the whole thing together in a manner that is quite sophisticated for such young composers.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the accomplishment is how these four young men accomplished it. Anyone who has a memory of their high school days knows how many demands are made on a student's time. And if they happen to be talented artists or athletes, those demands double and triple. So just thinking about writing, composing, editing and recording a full-length album in addition to everything else--band and theater rehearsals, jazz festivals, sports practice, concerts, talent shows, and, oh yeah, academics--is pretty mind boggling.

It all started about a year or so ago, when Mr. Bacon and Mr. Doyle were taking provate guitar lessons from Miriama Broady. Ms. Broady, a well-known local performer and former member of the Beatroots, was impressed by her students' musical potential.

"I kept encouraging them to write more music, more songs of their own," she says.

The boys took her advice to heart, and wish their friends and frequent jam partners, bass player Mr. Schwach and drummer Mr. Palazola, they conceived the idea of a rock opera. Not only that, they decided to submit it to their high school music department head, Dan Granholm, as an independent study project which would allow them to work on the opera during school hours and get credit for it. "It was tons of paperwork, but we got it done," says Mr. Bacon. "And then just when it was about to get approved, the paperwork got lost somewhere, and we had to do it all over again." "And the second time around they didn't seems as receptive to the idea," adds Mr. Schwach, "we really had to fight for it."

So if the subject of their CD, "The Forest," seems a trifle, well no, very pessimistic, the thing itself is a tribute to what creative thinking, talent, hard work and perserverance can achieve and perhaps even pave the way for similar achievements down the road. - Bar Harbor Times, 6/2/05

"Opera Rocks"

the beauty of a rock opera, or at least the essential theatrical element, comes not from listening to the music by itself, but rather from the performance as a whole. The music then becomes a story-telling vehicle aiding in the overall work, rather than the extent of the work itself. When viewed in this way, Romulus Rex's debut of their rock opera, "The Forest," performed last Friday at Mount Desert Island High School was an absolute success.

The boys in this band, Welly Bacon, Fox Schwach, David Palazola, and Chris Doyle really pulled it off with the help of some dancers, back-up vocalists, impromtu on-the-spot painting, an on-stage narrator, a chorus of singers, and mood enhancing staging and lighting.

"The Forest," which combines elements of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" with the more mystical elements of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy or Jethro Tull's "Songs From the Wood," came off as a fully realized performance creating a tableau of cohesive artistry.

There was even an opening act. Another MDIHS student, Josh Duym, with Phil Kell on guitar and piano, brought his bluesy baritone and impressive guitar skills to the stage. The duo was most impressive when they performed two guitar duets as closing pieces.

After a brief intermission, Romulus Rex took the stage. A large, blank canvas stood to one side, and a suited narrator with a large book in hand (Jarrod Pasha) sat in an armchair located nearby. The performance opened with the instrumental "Strawberry Jam" followed by the narrator introducing us to our protagonist, Geoff, and his misadventures in traveling from the Big City to The Forest, with magical gnomes, a mysterious Uncle Rufus, the ShroomEnts (large, living mushrooms which Geoff sees as a source of financial gain), and finally a return to the City in true antihero fashion, and a rather depressing ending.

While the music itself was impressively written and played, the performance itself was hightened by two live artists (Katherine Perkins and Cody Spruce) creating a painting during the actual performance (dim stage light and all), a dance interpretation of the song, "Gnomes," a fabulous and moving back up choir, two back up vocalists (Amy Boudreau and Anna Savage) and a talented tenor saxophonist (Aaron Rourk). The performance went off without a hitch--an impressively complete and thoroughly entertaining rock opera.

Romulus Rex has also started the Romulus Rex independent Special Project Fund, which the proceeds of ticket and CD sales (and the painting, which was auctioned off immediately after the performance) will support. The fund has been created to nurture other MDIHS students who might be interested in creating some artistic project in the context of an independent study. These musicians, only sophomores at MDIHS, have not only completed a masterful performance, but have also helped secure the opportunity for fellow students to do so in the future. - Bar Harbor Times, 6/9/05

"This album made me a good way"

This is probably THE best album I have ever allowed my ears to hear. Composed by teenagers from the state of Maine, this album is not only one of music, but of amazingly brilliant literature. The record tells the story of a city man who stumbles upon an enchanted forest of fungi and while he earns the respect of the inhabiting gnomes, he betrays them and destroys a part of their forest. The music contained on the shiny circular object you folks call CDs is simply astonishing. There is a splendid variety of styles of music on this album, ranging from mellow Pink Floyd-style songs(the beginning to "Life in the Big City," "The Forest Part I"), to Clapton-esque blues-rock tunes ("Mirimas"), to even white-boy reggae-rock ("The Forest Part II"). Whatever your taste, this album has it all, and is sure to please. Purchasing this album was the best thing I have ever done. -, Reviewer: Vogelman Von Alkatraz

"Rock fans will love"

As a person who knows the guys in this band, I have to tell you, I don't just like this stuff because I like the members. I truly enjoy listening to this album. The Rock Opera style of The Forest is amazing. They have so many different influences in their music. This is a must have for Rock fans everywhere. -, Reviewer: Country Girl56

"Off the Heazy"

This album is crazy good and the thing about it thats crazy is that these kids are just in high school! When I was in high school I was shooting heroin and getting girls pregnant, while these kids are actually getting something serious accomplished. Seriously, though, this album is awesome. These guys sew together many different musical styles and genres, making them comparable to no one in particular and everyone at the same time. Some bands I have heard them comparable to in the part include Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Frank Black, David Bowie, and any other bands you can think of that rock peoples' socks. - Itunes - The Forest


New album coming out soon! Also, we have a rock opera entitled "The Forest", and several other bootlegs and LPs. Tracks from "The Forest" have been played on our local community radio station, WERU.


Feeling a bit camera shy


We are Romulus Rex. Romulus Rex emerged from the ocean in the year 2005 AD. Upon crawling ashore, awesome music was made. Walking in the forest one balmy afternoon, a bear arrived and threatened the existence of Romulus Rex. As it lunged for Welly, the other three attacked with their guitars and drumsticks and the beast was slain. As it turned out, the bear was feared by all on Mount Desert Island and the surrounding areas and all came to love them and their celebratory music.