Isn’t it Romanteek?

Members of this Olympia five-piece want you to dance … but leave the nudity to them

FULLY CLOTHED<br>Ruby Valentine fresh off the set of a Sid and Marty Kroft production.

Ruby Valentine fresh off the set of a Sid and Marty Kroft production.

Courtesy Of Romanteek

Most people kick off the drowsy first morning of a work week with a cup of coffee and perhaps a glance at the local news. On this particular Monday morning, Ruby Valentine is too busy playing with a new toy and watching her friend strip to be concerned with such nonsense.

“We’ve got some houseguests right now and they’re out here practicing with a cool, sparkly orange hula hoop on my porch,” said Valentine, the easy-going vocalist of soulful hip-hop/rock band Romanteek. “Now one of them is getting naked.”

Not that any of this should necessarily be unexpected, at least to anyone familiar with the Olympia, Wash. band’s love for getting people dancing. A perusal of Romanteek’s MySpace page (complete with a moving icon of Valentine dancing moonwalk-style) reveals a set of influences including everything from Peggy Lee to Timbaland, along with some songs to illustrate how they all fit together. “Place to Go” is a mash-up of a spy-film score and club hip-hop, with a 1940s radio blaring jazz vocals in the background as Valentine croons, “Anybody got a home / Anybody got a place to go to / Anybody got a hand to hold / When the nights are cold and lonely.”

Beginning in 2001, Romanteek shows consisted of Valentine performing her songs solo—just her and a keyboard. Soon, after expressing his interest at a show, Matt Buscher took up duties on drums and guitar, and the two would play together with beats he’d created backing them on a CD player. Today, Romanteek is a full, fleshed-out band, complete with the addition of drummer Heather Dunn, bassist Ian Ackerman and Ira Coyne on keyboard.

In addition to the few albums released under the solo and two-piece formats, Romanteek has a vinyl-only EP titled Dancing Discoteque, and plans to get to work soon on a full-length.

Much happier with the new formation, Valentine uses this analogy to illustrate the lineup’s cohesiveness: “We’re like the five fingers of a hand. I’m the middle finger, Matt is the index finger, Ira Coyne is the ring finger, Ian Ackerman is the pinky, and Heather Dunn is the thumb.”

And even though having fewer members afforded Valentine opportunities such as cheaply and conveniently touring Europe, she is not at all deterred from reaching similar goals with the band.

“I know that Romanteek, the five fingers, will make it back to Europe in the future,” she said. “I think we get to put out more feeling with more people.”

Although Valentine’s listening tastes may be all over the map (her current obsessions include Brazil ‘66, Nina Simone and Gnarls Barkley), Romanteek’s approach to live shows is pretty straightforward in presenting an overwhelmingly positive and sometimes raucous party atmosphere.

“People need to dance to live and be happy,” Valentine said.

Believers in naked lifestyle in their personal lives, the members of Romanteek nevertheless don’t turn to getting nude on stage as a means of drawing bigger crowds.

“I usually just wear something under my clothes, like some hot pants or something, so I have something to take off,” Valentine said.

None of that, however, is to say that the band isn’t capable of getting caught up in the moment. According to Valentine, the last time Romanteek played in Chico, the show ended with both band members and onlookers stripped down to various stages of undress. And although you’ll have to come to the show to see if that mood strikes again, Valentine can at least guarantee one thing: “It’s gonna get hot and sweaty.”