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Get Romantics on Congress

photo courtesy of THE ROMANTICS
The Romantics aren't dead. But they are back after an 18 year hiatus with their new album 61/49.
By Djamila Noelle Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 28, 2004
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Even though the Romantics have buckets full of experience in the music business under their belt, many people might not remember them.

After releasing two very successful albums in the early and mid-80s, the Detroit rock band vanished for almost a decade, busy in court suing their managers.

Struggling to make ends meet, they never stopped touring, but got downgraded to an '80s nostalgia act. Now the quartet is back with the first new album in 18 years: 61/49.

"I think we are all connected to our past. Anyway, we don't need to discount it. We have some of the same attitudes we had when we started," said Mike Skill, bassist and singer. "We refined the music. Dig deep, do things a little differently, get a little better. But we try to keep it very simple. The energy is still pretty much intact."

In the '80s, the Romantics toured the United States and Europe at enormous expense. They played to packed arenas with two singles rotating on MTV and Top 40 radio for weeks. Their fourth album, In Heat, went platinum.

"For a while we did bigger shows. We did more arena shows, everything was bigger. I wasn't too happy with that era of us. We may have gotten a little overconfident," Skill said. "In the early days we played straight from our heart, and now it's back to the same thing."

The Romantics found out that they were being deceived by their managers soon after this success. Years in court followed, when the band fought for the copyrights of their own songs. However, it was also a time for the guys to redefine themselves and their music.

"Simplicity was the way to go for this band, and that's what we went in. With searching our roots, our rhythm and blues roots, our pop roots, our psychedelic roots of Britain and the U.S. in the '60s, then we just started to pinpoint the things we liked. Not worrying too much about managers, producers and labels. We just didn't care. It really stabilized our foundation," Skill said.

At 12 a.m. this Saturday, the Romantics will hit the stage in Tucson at the Nightmare on Congress Street. They are going to play a mix of the really old and the really new.

The band is not really sure how they'll celebrate the holiday; definitely no red leather suits, which contributed to their fame in the early days, though.

"We don't put as much emphasis on (style) as we used to, but we're trying to look good," Skill said and laughs. "I don't know, maybe we'll just wear a skeleton or something. Or a cactus. "

Curtis McCrary, entertainment director of the Rialto who organized the Halloween event among others, is not really sure either which costume he will dig out of his closet:

"I'll probably dress up as a Republican but haven't settled on that," McCrary said.

Seven stages will be supporting Nightmare on Congress Street, including ones at Seven Black Cats, Vaudeville Cabaret and an outdoor stage. Twenty live bands will play, including The Romantics, The Zsa Zsas, The Iguanas, Harry Hernandez, Chango Malo and Hipster Daddy-O. The Tucson Puppet works are going to perform from the balcony of the Rialto. Don't forget to dress up, since there is going to be a big costume contest.

"It's gonna be an adults' Halloween with an emphasis on having a good time," McCrary said.

Doors open at 8 p.m., tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the day of the show. This event is for ages 21 and older.

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