The Burning of Rome mastermind Adam Traub is a Southern California native who grew up in the sun-bleached city of San Diego. Those formative years were also spent glued to a piano, with a guitar close by.
At age 11 he started playing in a punk band, and by 15 they had struck a deal with Arista Records. During that time, Traub was diagnosed with a rare muscular disorder in both of his legs that would eventually require seven serious surgeries and six titanium bolts to correct.
Bed-ridden and feeling slighted by the universe for missing out on standard teendom, Traub dedicated his time (and angst) to cultivating an intimate relationship with his parents’ upright piano. Countless hours, days, and months of recovery were spent on that piano bench, mastering the life works of his now closest friends—the Beatles, Chopin, and Thelonius Monk, among others.
A sonic blessing in disguise, the energy that otherwise might have been divvied up between sports and generic teenage bullshit was now a concentrated laser beam connecting his mind to his music.
“Music is still a therapeutic way for me to cope with the world around me,” Traub says. “Ever since I was a child I felt like an alien visiting Earth and had (and still have) difficulty understanding what makes people normal. I opted to rebel against the norm through music. It was the only thing that made sense to me.”
As Traub outgrew the need to be confined to beds and braces, he had also long outgrown his prepubescent punk band and bid adieu to Arista to embark on the new leg (pun intended) of his musical journey—now strongly rooted in an overwhelming clarity of the songs he needed to share. This journey is what we now, seven years later, know as The Burning of Rome.
It began as a recording project—a way to flush out the songs that were incubating in his head and clogging his bones. A few friends offered to help him play it live, just to see if there was anything there. The result was unearthly. The Burning of Rome’s manic live show was (and remains) an imposing, gigantic, theatrical spectacle of unspeakable proportions. With Traub’s lively and untamable friends Joe Aguilar, Aimee Jacobs, and Lee Williams involved, the Burning of Rome became an inexorable beast that consistently vaporizes the minds of brave spectators and casual listeners alike. Their unique, genre-bending sound has allowed them to open for a wide range acts like The Black Keys, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Devo, MGMT, Skrillex, Suicidal Tendencies and Jimmy Eat World.
The Burning of Rome’s sprawling new album (and debut with record label Surfdog Records), “With Us,” follows no suit or trend. It is the sonic equivalent of tethering a rope to the best of earthen punk, rock and pop, and diving into an as yet unexplored black hole of avant-garde composition.
“With Us” was recorded in Los Angeles at EastWest studios, “in the same room that the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’ was tracked in 40 years prior,” Traub says. “There was an intense, historical energy throughout the recording process. Periodically Flea or Anthony Kiedis, who were recording with Red Hot Chili Peppers in the other half of the studio, would check in for small talk. We even got a nod from Rick Rubin by the coffee machine. It inspired us in a surreal, almost competitive, way.”
“With Us” was produced by Adam Traub and Grammy Award winning producer Tom Biller, mixed by Dave Darling (Tom Waits, Jack Johnson, Brian Setzer) with additional remixes by Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, Sublime, U2, Meat Puppets, Pepper).
“The ultimate goal of The Burning of Rome,” Traub says, “Is to reach as many people as possible with our sound, and offer musical asylum to those needing it. Bands used to carry the banner for their followers in a way that seems fleeting. There aren’t any Joe Strummer’s of this generation acting as a voice for those that can’t be heard. I want the Burning of Rome to carry a banner for its followers, and give them refuge from monotony. I want to rally the masses and call out the corrupt. I want a revolution to spark from this band.”