EMURG’s Interview with KT Paige of Romantic Rebel

” I don’t just talk to the crowd. I command the crowd”, claims front woman KT Page. The energetic lead singer has a lot to be proud of when it comes to fronting her band Romantic Rebel as the band is set to release their self-titled album on April 29th, 2014. Being no stranger to the highly competitive music scene, KT & company have done their time and are ready to take their game to the next level, but who exactly is Romantic Rebel? In this exclusive interview, EMURG finds out how this emerging band is not only commanding audiences, but how they are bringing a new type of energy to the face of rock…

EMURG: Who is Romantic Rebel? Can you give us a little history about the band?

KT: Romantic Rebel, in a nutshell, is pure, raw, female-fronted hard rock. My brother, Alex (guitarist of RR) and I were pretty much raised on rock ‘n’ roll. Our parents would always play Aerosmith, Scorpions, GNR, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, etc., around the house. So we were pretty immune to all of the rap, pop, techno and Kenny G nonsense that our friends would try to push upon us in middle school (I’m not kidding about that last one. In 6th grade, there was seriously an 11 year old that was trying to make me listen to Kenny G. Yes. That is the kind of world we live in). Thank goodness we didn’t give into peer pressure, otherwise we may have never been inspired to start Romantic Rebel.

Back in the day, Alex and I would jam all the time in our basement, but as most people will probably agree, a jam session can only get so exciting with simply a guitar and vocals. So. Alex decided to ask his best friend, Danny if he would be interested in playing bass for us. Now, in all of Danny’s previous bands, he was a guitarist. So making a guitarist become a bassist is kind of like taking a small child to Disney World, then telling him he will never see Mickey again because he is condemned to go furniture shopping with his grandma (the one he’s never met) for always and eternity. Yeah. That bad. So needless to say, we were quite hesitant to ask Danny the forbidden question. However, much to our surprise, he actually agreed to say goodbye to Mickey and play bass for us!

Finding the thunder god Marcus Lee was quite a different story. Once upon a time, I was the girlfriend of a guy in a band (Don’t get excited, the guy wasn’t Marcus). I absolutely despised it. Night after night I would go to the shows and be Official Jacket Holder and Professional Water Fetcher, and watch the band on stage thinking about how much I wanted to be up there. Marcus happened to be in this band. When Alex, Danny and I were looking for a drummer, I remembered how awesome Marcus was. I knew I couldn’t get him in RR because I was pretty sure he was still currently in a band.  So I thought I’d ask him if he could suggest any drummers to us Shockingly, he responded, ‘how about me?’ So we got him in for an audition, which he nailed and boom. Romantic Rebel was born.

EMURG: Romantic Rebel has a new album that is dropping on 4/29/14. Can you describe what the album is about?

KT: Our self-titled album is really all about past experiences. Many of our songs are about standing up for yourself, being yourself and not following what everyone thinks is right or ‘cool’. If you go along with what everyone says for your entire life, all you’ll end up with is a tangled mess of opinions and beliefs that aren’t your own and a lot of wasted time and energy.

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EMURG: What was the process like recording this album?

KT: Alex and I wrote about 30 songs to bring to producer, Ulrich Wild. We then stripped it down to the best 11 that were worthy of making it onto the album. Ulrich pushed us to make this record more amazing than we thought it could ever be. Our song ‘Sorry’ would have never even been written if it wasn’t for Ulrich. We came in the studio with a bunch of finished songs, but a few half-baked ones, as well. Initially, ‘Sorry’ had no vocals and Alex never gave it to me to add them because he wasn’t digging the song enough in the first place. Alex loves almost everything he writes. SoI thought that if he wasn’t thrilled with it, there wasn’t any point in adding lyrics. He believed at best, it could be a decent instrumental. When Ulrich heard the song and told us to add lyrics, we weren’t exactly excited about it. Especially because of the fact that it was a ballad. Alex and I have never written a ballad in our lives and nor did we ever plan to do so. We were absolutely dreading writing lyrics to ‘The Ballad’ (as it was known as for quite some time). Finally, I agreed to attempt to write lyrics. After about an hour of sitting outside with my notebook and my mint tea, I came back and laid down a demo track. Everyone in the studio was completely taken aback by what I came up with, including myself.  Stepping outside of my comfort zone had made a song we wished would just leave us alone become one of our favorites on the album.”

EMURG: How does the new album compare/differ to previous work that you and the band have done in the past?

KT: It’s much more aggressive. Our 4 song EP had more of a classic rock vibe to it. It was fun, but we needed to go heavier. The sound of our album is everything we wanted to be in the first place, but didn’t know we were capable of.

EMURG: How does the intensity of your songs transition to your live shows? Do you feel as if fans get more of experience seeing and hearing you live?

KT: Our live show is one of the highest energy rock shows you will ever experience. We make everyone in the crowd feel like they are a part of the show.  Nobody gets left out. Everybody counts. We’re always one big Rebel Family. I don’t just talk to the crowd. I command the crowd. I may be 5 foot nothing but when I get on stage, I own it. I get the entire room head banging and throwing up their horns as soon as the first song kicks in.

Alex and Danny use wireless systems, which allow them to run around the entire stage and interact with everyone in the crowd.  Marcus isn’t just the guy in the back keeping the beat; He is always one to watch.  Standing on his thrown, flipping sticks and spitting water are just a few of his tricks to get the crowd wanting more.

After the show, we take time to talk to each and every fan. We take photos, sign their stuff, and chat about music and whatever else. Some bands let their heads get a little too big and run straight to the green room after their set. The worst is when the band won’t sign anything or take a photo with you unless you buy some of their merch. The way I see it, is that if you’re still at the point where you’re able to stand at your own merch table without getting mobbed, you should probably hold off on selling those Meet & Greet packages for a bit. Bands need to remember where they came from and who helped them get where they are.

The physical aspect of our show is always secondary to the musical part. We’ve noticed a lot of bands tend to do all of this choreographed jumping and dancing on stage. One thing we stay away from is any ‘planned movements.’ Every move we do on stage is absolutely spontaneous. When water is flying from the thunder god behind you, you never know when you’re going to get hit.

Another thing about our shows is that they are truly, genuine rock shows. Too many bands nowadays rely on tracks for 95% of their sound. There’s nothing wrong with having some synth or strings to add substance to your set, but when you start to hear some invisible guitars and vocalists on stage, you’ve gone a bit too far. When fans go to a show, they don’t expect to hear an exact replica of an album (That’s what pop music is for). It’s all part of the raw, awesomeness that is a rock show. If people wanted planned out dancing and perfectly auto-tuned tracks, they could just go see Justin Bieber on Ice or whatever the kids are into these days…

EMURG: What sets your band apart from other bands in your genre?

KT: I’d say the fact that we’re pretty much the entire package. We look good, we sound good and we put on a kickass live show. But, above all I’d say our dedication and passion for what we do sets us apart. We live and breathe rock ‘n’ roll. Nothing beats the feeling of writing a song straight from your heart and playing it with everything you’ve got on stage in front of people that feel same thing you do. It’s those kind of things that make all of the hard work pay off ten fold.

EMURG: It seems that the industry is producing a lot more female fronted acts than in recent years. What is your opinion concerning women’s ever-growing role in the music industry?

KT: Proving yourself as a woman in the rock/metal scene can be a challenge. No matter what instrument or what kind of music you play, confidence is critical. You can have all the talent in the world, but if your stage presence only reaches 7th grade Variety Show level, that’s all anyone will ever notice. When you’re performing, you need to show the world you love what you do and are damn good at it. Just remember that being confident is about being yourself too. Don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. Fans and other musicians will see right through it.

That’s one of the problems with women in the rock/metal scene. A lot of them really don’t seem to know what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. And they end up going for this cheap, cookie cutter version of what they think will get them noticed in the industry. All they think they need to do is throw up the horns, wear a Slayer shirt that they somehow fashioned into underwear, and swear every two seconds on stage; All because they think it’s ‘metal.’ More times than not, the more skin you show, the less respect you’ll get. If you want to go down that road, that’s perfectly fine, but you better have a whole lot of talent to back it up.

EMURG: Who inspired you to become the lead woman that you are on stage today?

KT: Definitely Joan Jett. When I was little, I would hear her music and see photos of her and think how cool it would be do what she does. I loved her raw attitude, energy and individuality. Also rockers like James Hetfield, Axl Rose and Danny Worsnop. I love watching live videos of them and seeing how they command the crowd; they inspire me every day to put on the greatest show possible.

EMURG: Are there any interesting stories that you would like to share that you’ve experienced while being in the band? Is there anything particular that you would like fans to know about you?

KT: Being the only female fronted band at Wisconsin Metal Fest 2013 with Asking Alexandria, Sevendust, and All That Remains was a darn cool feeling and was one of the most amazing experiences we’ve had as a band to date. Not only did we get to play with some of our favorite bands, we got to meet and hang out with the members of them after the show. It was totally surreal seeing them on stage rocking out in front of thousands of people one minute, then chatting with them backstage the next.

Anything in particular that I would like fans to know about me? Yes. Contrary to popular belief, my name is pronounced like ‘Katie.’ I always laugh when people put the accent on the ‘T’ or when they ask me what the K and T stand for. Alas, they stand for nothing. Sorry to disappoint.

EMURG: What are your current views concerning the environment in the music industry for up and coming musicians? What do you consider to be negative and positive about being a musician?

KT: I think the industry is full of a lot of good people, but also some dishonest ones who are only trying to make money. To all young bands out there: If something sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is. That’s really one of the only negative aspects that jumps out at me. Do your research and always have your guard up before handing over a bunch of cash. There are a lot of scammers out there that try to take advantage of up and coming bands that are trying to break into the industry. You just have to be cautious and learn who to trust.

As far as positive things about being a musician, I could go on forever. It builds confidence, you meet so many amazing musicians and fans and you get to live what you love.

EMURG: What is the best piece of advice that you can give to any up and coming artist or band? What is the one thing that you wish that someone would have told you before entering the music business?

KT: The upmost important thing about breaking into the music industry is networking. Get on Facebook and start connecting with as many local musicians as you can. The more people you know, the farther you’ll go (no rhyme intended). It’s important to remember that is takes a long, long time to make even a dent in the music industry. Even if you’re ready to play in front of 5,000 people, that will never happen if you only have a few local shows under your belt. You have to climb the rock ‘n’ ladder. And the first 100 rungs are going to mean playing Mondaynights in tiny dives where your only audience is the bartenders, and that drunk guy in the back with no shoes. But hey, you never know. Drunken No-Shoes’s more successful brother could be the A&R guy for Sumerian Records.

That’s why you can never put on a half-baked show. You have to play like there are 10,000 screaming fans watching you, every single time you get on stage. No excuses. Even if all you get at the end of the night is one bartender telling you they liked your set, you should take that to heart. The bartenders at clubs see bands every single night. They don’t have to like your band. They’re not getting paid to clap and cheer for you. When a band grabs their attention enough for them to acknowledge it, take that as a sincere compliment.

Also, remember to stay humble. No one likes a rock star attitude. Be respectful to everyone you meet, show up on time, and always watch the other bands on the bill perform, Even if you don’t dig their sound, stand in the front and throw up the horns. They’ll appreciate it more than you know.

The one thing I wish I would’ve been told before entering the music business is don’t bug the bookers too much. There is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. If they like you, they’ll book you.

EMURG:  In your opinion, what is the one thing that is missing in music today? What do you think the industry should do to correct this problem?

KT: One thing that’s missing in music today is bands that deserve to be in the spotlight. There are so many amazing local bands out there that play in front of 5 people for years because they are never given the chance to move up on the ladder. Hard work is key and you’ll never get anywhere without it. However, eventually you’ll hit a standstill.

Someone needs to give those bands a chance to prove themselves. I can understand that talent buyers are always skeptical to book an unknown band on a decent show, but if they never give them a chance, they won’t be able to move forward to the next level and will be stuck playing for Drunken No-Shoes for the rest of their lives.

Many times, bands are judged by the amount of Facebook likes they have in order to get on bigger shows. The way some bookers see it, is that a band that has 30,000 likes will be able to draw a lot of people to a show. The problem with that is, the number of Facebook fans doesn’t always equal the number of actual fans that will come see a band play. When a band asks to get on a bill, talent buyers should ignore Facebook likes and check out a video of a live performance of the band. Just because a band has 1,500 likes doesn’t mean that they aren’t 1,500 times better than a band with 10,000 likes.

EMURG: What is on the horizon for you and the band in 2014?

KT: Touring! We’re so excited to branch out into other regions of the country and play for all of our Rebels out there. We’re also going to be a part of some amazing fests this Summer. Including Rock Fest! We’re pretty stoked out of our minds to play with Aerosmith. Five Finger Death Punch, Pop Evil, Stone Sour and so many more. It’s going to be on awesome show!