With their most recent single, “Vanity Fair,” Los Angeles pop band Romance & Rebellion have crafted a soaring depiction of youthful infatuation, one complete with lush vocals layered atop addictive power pop beats reminiscent of 1960s rock. “Vanity Fair” was featured on the Romance & Rebellion’s debut EP, released in June of 2016, on which the group teamed with veteran pop producer Stefan Litrownik (Andy Grammer, One Direction) to hone their infectious sound into six glistening songs that are making waves in the music industry.
Featuring David LaViola (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Aaron Medina (lead guitar, harmony vocals), Brandon Davis (bass, harmony vocals), Aleksandr Landsberger (harmony guitar, harmony vocals), and Kyle Jordan Mueller (drums), Romance & Rebellion is the byproduct of four individuals who came to Los Angeles looking for something, but what they found was each other. And through their common belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, they discovered musical harmony.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
Aleksandr: I was raised mostly in a very small town and spent the majority of my time hiking and camping. We didn’t have the tightest home life, so I grew up extremely quiet. I think by the time I was 16, my room was filled with over 20 various instruments. Keyboards, drum sets, three violins, guitars, flutes and many more. I definitely spent way too much time in my head and I think it taught me a more reserved, patient approach than most kids. Between being outdoors so often and being surrounded by music when indoors, I learned how to teach myself and I learned endless amounts about the power of observation and how to listen. Like really listen.
Over time, that subconsciously grew into an ability to work through pressure and outside distractions in a focused, resolved manner. Everything I do musically, from practice to songwriting, I approach with fervor but have learned to balance it out with temperance. That’s something you need as a musician in Los Angeles. This is a place where the top dogs and the hungry dogs all come to get some. You have to know how to keep up with them and not lose yourself.
Growing up, who were your biggest musical influences?
Brandon: My biggest influence growing up was the pop punk scene and ska. Both of those styles of music showed me that you could be any color and gender and still make good and catchy music.
How did the members of Romance & Rebellion initially meet one another?
Aaron: I initially met David at a small acoustic singer/songwriter show. He had an impressive voice. Months later we connected and he said he wanted to put a band together. Once I heard his demos, and heard the quality of songwriting, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Around that time David was in touch with Kyle Jordan Mueller about playing drums in the band. Since bass players are always hard to come by, David had to convince an old friend to move to LA from New York to play bass in Romance & Rebellion. After recording the EP, David wanted a fuller sound that you get on the album and we brought in guitarist Aleks who used to play with me in another band, a hard rock project called Pretty Little Bullet. Everyone brings something unique to the table, and it’s fortunate that our paths all crossed.
What inspired the name of your group? Were there any other interesting options that were left on the cutting room floor?
David: When conceiving the band name, there wasn’t much of a back and forth between myself and the rest of the band. I had wanted something that sounded like a cool clothing brand… ya know, like Forever 21, Crooks & Castles, All Saints. Romance & Rebellion sounds like it could be a cool clothing brand. It also had this implied duality… like multi-layering.
The only terrible name that was on the cutting room floor that never saw the light of day was David LaViola & The Motherfuckers. Yikes, right?!?!?
What is your songwriting process?
David: Stressful HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! No, but seriously! There are a myriad of different ways a song can being to be written, most commonly is with a chord pattern. I’ve also started a song with much less… like, a song name, four bars of melody, a title, or even just an attitude. Chords are more often the beginning step on the songwriting procedure. After I lay down the chord pattern I usually create melody and lyric at the same time, as they both have a unique way of effecting one another. Chords, lyrics, and melody are really “The Song”… everything else is just a treatment or an aesthetic. Usually after those are written I will start sketching out some light arrangement ideas, and then I hit the home studio or a local studio I use to demo ideas. The demo is like the first edit, and typically song will have three or four edits before it gets to it’s final form. Even when you record a song for an album you typically make modifications to the live version so really, a song never stops being written.
What were your goals when you went into the studio to record Romance & Rebellion’s debut EP?
Brandon: My goal was to bring back the classy side of rock but with an edge. To see how we could reinvent the past with a new twist and bring back rock and roll in a new light.
How important is social media when it comes to generating buzz for a new band?
Aaron: Social media serves two purposes in my opinion: it allows artists to let fans into their world on a very personal level, and show their personality on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, showing the day to day process, and a more human element to an artist. The second purpose is to advertise, brand, and engage with fans as well as attract new fans in a way that couldn’t be done 15-20 years ago. Everyone is surfing FB, IG, Snapchat constantly on the personal computers we now all have in our pockets. If an artist is clever and engaging with their content, they will have a more substantial reach than any other method, for little to no cost.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
Kyle: I just went to the movies for the first time in a hot minute last week and saw the new Blair Witch. I’m an avid horror movie buff and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It definitely helped seeing it in the theater with that Dolby Digital.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Kyle: Emma Roberts. Done and done. Have you SEEN American Horror Story or especially Scream Queens?! Dear lord have mercy…
What are you working on next?
Aleksandr: Next? Oh man that’s quite the list. I’m obviously working and growing with Romance & Rebellion. Getting my ear to better places with vocal harmonies and supportive guitar parts. I’m also putting a lot of heart and soul into a solo project which is singer songwriter oriented with an R&B twist. When I have time, I also play in a hard rock group with some fellow Berklee cats and work on electronic music at home. I’m big on trip hop and chill step so I have fun with those too. Not to mention all the guitars I want to go buy…