Get to Know - Roman Anton

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Getting to Know: Roman Anton

We could all be described as the sum of a complex equation. Influences and impressions from our childhood stay with us and shape who we be-come. The same can be said for the environment, our personal world, the surroundings we are engulfed in during our formative years. A mod-ern metropolis, a war-torn wasteland, a remote mountain, or, in Roman Anton’s case, a river and a giant lake.

Racine, Wisconsin, is a special place on Earth for Roman Anton, located at the mouth of the Root River and on the shore of the great Lake Michigan. 

 “The Lake, the Root River and music shaped my life from a very early age. I was the youngest of five and we were also a very active family. Sports, activities, local trips, moving around all the time. 

”Piece one of the Roman Anton jigsaw. As the youngest of five, Roman developed a competitive streak as his older brothers and sister naturally held an advantage over him, and of course, he sought to emulate them. 
“Sports were a huge part of the equation, too. Trying to beat my brothers and sister at anything was a big deal. Basketball, tennis, football, a random series of high impact collisions in “kill the guy with the ball” games.Life presents a series of crossroad moments during our youth. Some paths lead to conflict and self-destruction, others lead to peace and personal growth. Roman was on the former path, recalling a “significant number of fights” and behavior that went beyond juvenile delinquency during his grade school era, until art and music arrived to teach him.
Roman recounts a formative phone call from his father: 
 “I recall getting in a fight that morning in gym class but I didn’t recall it get-ting reported. So I walked to the principal’s office and, on the way there, the secretary says I have a phone call waiting for me. My dad is on the line.” 

“This isn’t normal so now I am thinking it’s a family problem, whichmakes me more than nervous. When I pick up the phone, my dad straight out asks me if I want tickets to see Chuck Mangione that night, in Milwaukee. The calls, interventions and attention like this – from both parents –were the primary reason I was able to stay in line and on the right path. Much later, memories of those interventions and of that guidance provided some of the true emotion and meaning for my song writing.”

Art inspires peace within us and Roman’s focus was successfully guided from a wayward lifestyle toward soulful activities, such as guitar and piano lessons, and attending live music concerts. Music had become embedded in Roman’s existence.

“My sister introduced me to her turntable and the Beatles at a very young age. I was immediately drawn to Paul, who tapped into the overall positive-ness of my childhood. Paul hit and still hits the right chords for me.”


Roman’s ears steadily succumbed to the classical and jazz music his parents played in the house and his influences became musical; his piano and guitar teachers, the music itself. One of his piano teachers, Sister Yvonne, gave him some telling advice, which, at the time of writing, seems quite prophetic.

“I studied piano lessons at the Dominican Sisters’ Aquin Hall. It was a gray stone, old gothic place, with wide dark halls, not conducive to creativity at all. I recall Sister Yvonne saying I would never make it unless I practiced more.”
Roman practiced more but at the same time changed teachers to Betty Hansen, who lived in a bright and cheery yellow painted house on a hill, where the practices turned from theory to jamming and pop. At about this same time, Roman embarked upon a musical journey, which would see him absorb the sounds of The Beatles, David Bowie, Hall and Oats, and Stevie Wonder for thousands of hours. Much later in life, as he traveled the world for work and pleasure he would try to have music with him and a guitar in hand. Everywhere he went, Roman absorbed the local, musical culture, and tried playing along. On these travels, he experienced some shape-shifting moments which would further propel him towards his current destiny. 

“I wrote one of my most emotional songs in Meru, Tanzania, at the Elsa Kopje, a lodge where Joy Adamson raised her loin cub Elsa and out of which came the book and movie “Born Free”. It was a very moving experience for me, because I was on the top of this mesa, literally looking out at the nature reserve, at elephants, and giraffes, and all I could do was internalize it. I wrote a song about my father, questioning if he was still out there and if he could still hear me.”

Roman has never lost touch with his emotions, and the lake, where it all began. His first writing spurt arrived in the year 2000, which led him on an unstoppable surge of momentum. During this time he was prolific in his original song writing and developed his skills as a front man, learning the art of performance in an unlikely place. 

“I really started to work on my live playing when I was in Lagos, Nigeria. I had a prolonged three-year period of practicing with some really talented musicians.” 

As his front man skills were developing, he honed in on his goals and entered the practice era. Characterized by a popular phrase with Roman, “logging hours”, endless hours behind the scenes perfecting one’s craft. Grueling, painstaking, practice, Roman believed, could usurp that old chestnut, “natural talent”, which escaped him and has escaped so many others. 

“I don’t think I have natural talent at anything. Anything I have excelled at, or at least improved at, I seem to have logged many hours. These past eight years I have really practiced my music writing, singing and playing, much more than ever. More than most folks would.”
This era has led Roman, for the first time in his life, hot in pursuit of a childhood vision. The Roman Anton band was born five years ago, but the vision was always beyond playing music. He has an assortment of creations made by him and his team: songs, music sheets, paintings, novels, hand-crafted bracelets and custom made Phins (a traditional Thai stringed instrument). What will become of all these unique, original works of art?

“I have spent a ton of time working on developing the Roman Anton Launch 1 – Tierra del Fuego Box Set. I think it’s fair to say, creating a box set has been a life-long dream of mine. To have all my related items in abox, like a treasure chest, like the one my grandfather made for me so many years ago.”
Roman practiced more but at the same time changed teachers to Betty Hansen, who lived in a bright and cheery yellow painted house on a hill, where the practices turned from theory to jamming and pop. At about this same time, Roman embarked upon a musical journey, which would see him absorb the sounds of The Beatles, David Bowie, Hall and Oats, and Stevie Wonder for thousands of hours. Much later in life, as he traveled the world for work and pleasure he would try to have music with him and a guitar in hand. Everywhere he went, Roman absorbed the local, musical culture, and tried playing along. On these travels, he experienced some shape-shifting moments which would further propel him towards his current destiny. 

“I wrote one of my most emotional songs in Meru, Tanzania, at the Elsa Kopje, a lodge where Joy Adamson raised her loin cub Elsa and out of which came the book and movie “Born Free”. It was a very moving experience for me, because I was on the top of this mesa, literally looking out at the nature reserve, at elephants, and giraffes, and all I could do was internalize it. I wrote a song about my father, questioning if he was still out there and if he could still hear me.”

Roman has never lost touch with his emotions, and the lake, where it all began. His first writing spurt arrived in the year 2000, which led him on an unstoppable surge of momentum. During this time he was prolific in his original song writing and developed his skills as a front man, learning the art of performance in an unlikely place. 

“I really started to work on my live playing when I was in Lagos, Nigeria. I had a prolonged three-year period of practicing with some really talented musicians.” 

As his front man skills were developing, he honed in on his goals and entered the practice era. Characterized by a popular phrase with Roman, “logging hours”, endless hours behind the scenes perfecting one’s craft. Grueling, painstaking, practice, Roman believed, could usurp that old chestnut, “natural talent”, which escaped him and has escaped so many others. 

“I don’t think I have natural talent at anything. Anything I have excelled at, or at least improved at, I seem to have logged many hours. These past eight years I have really practiced my music writing, singing and playing, much more than ever. More than most folks would.”
A treasure chest (box set), given to him by his grandfather, planted the seed, which has been rumbling beneath the soil for years. Thailand was the fertile ground where the seed decided to sprout. What is it about Thailand?

“The Roman Anton creations that we work on require a variety of skill sets to help pull them off but also require of degree of imbalance. I find all of that here in Thailand.”

“Our music producer has opened his home to us and is a regular influence on the music and other Roman Anton productions. We have a great craftsman in Sri Racha. We have a metal and printing wizard and his team here in Bangkok. I have found a musical score composer also in the Chonburi, Sri Racha area. We have our custom Phin guitar maker up in the Northeast in Kon Khaen, Isaan. I found our bracelet connection in Lhasa, Tibet, which isn’t that far away.” 

Bangkok has become home away from Racine, Wisconsin, for Roman Anton. He has formed his music and production company here in Thai-land, but I have learned that what he’s doing is much bigger than music. Roman Anton is an integrated set of ideas and creations which have required real friendships and cross-cultural collaborations to be realized. Many, many hours of dedication, logged. One can’t help but admire what he’s doing.

Roman Anton is a truly uplifting story of collaboration, west meets east. It’s a narrative filled with hope and possibility. This story is underpinned by the power of family ties and the power of music, the latter of which is able to transcend cultural boundaries, and has done for Roman. Always moving forward. Music stops in Manilla and Yangon are possible in the very near future, on this journey of a lifetime.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:

What’s your favorite song at the moment?
I am on about my millionth listen to Reed Turner’s title track on Acrobats and Soldiers and I seem to be stuck on Greta Van Fleet’s Highway Tune. “So sweet, so fine, so nice, all mine.”
What was the last book you read?
I was reading during the same month, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein, The Accusation by Bondi, and The Underground Rail-road, by Colson Whitehead.
What was your most recent purchase?
My most recent purchase was a padded microphone windscreen/cover. Frank and I kept getting shocked at this one venue and I had the brilliant idea to cover the mics. Not sure I addressed the ungrounded wire issue but we stopped getting shocked.
Do you have a funny band story?
I think so. All three of us have song we play between the time when we’re playing the next song. I am not sure why we all do it. Frank plays the opening bass line for Little River Band’s Help is On Its Way. Roger goes straight into Green Day’s Longview. Full volume, of course. And I have two, I play the Yes Roundabout guitar intro, which influenced my Tierra del Fuego intro, and Billy Squire’s Lonely is the Night intro. It’s almost an addiction. It’s like a smoke or drink between songs. We do it without knowing it at this point.
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