New name, new wave, ROA sound
The Roa Brothers Band as you know it—by name, at least—is dead. It’s just ROA now.
The band dropped an article and two modifiers, but kept its members: four Roas, one by marriage. Since the band started playing shows a couple of years ago, its lineup has been Eddie Roa on vocals and guitar, Ramon Roa on bass, Michael Roa on drums and Rita Roa, the only non-brother, on vocals and keyboards.
Why the name change, though?
“That was another thing that made us stick out like a sore thumb,” Eddie said, the other being the band’s unique sound. “When we first conceived of it, we were thinking about The Allman Brothers Band, the Isley Brothers, things like that. There’s a tradition of bands with brothers in the name, but then I think people were starting to get the idea that we were a country band or something.”
They’re not country—they’re solidly rock, with some new wave and popular influences that place their sound in a bygone era. The country misunderstanding, coupled with persistent audience questions about Rita’s non-brother status, ushered in the ROA era. The band had a debut EP release late last year—The Roa Brothers and Rita EP—and has been gigging around Sacramento, putting in the rounds and making music that sometimes feels like it’s caught between niches.
“It’s not that there isn’t a scene—there’s definitely a scene,” Eddie said. “Sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle.”
There’s more playing for other local musicians—Mondo Deco, Jesus and the Dinosaurs, anyone oriented toward rock ‘n’ roll, he said.
“There’s a lot of punk music, the Gilman Street sound, that’s still pretty alive and kicking,” Eddie said. “I get the sense that we wouldn’t fit in with those bands.”
ROA has the new wave flavor, mixed into old rock sensibilities—a Crock-Pot of sonic ingredients.
“We’ve just always listened to a wide variety of music,” Rita said. “I think when we make music, we’re drawing from everything that we’ve listened to for a long time. … We absorb a lot through listening.”
David Bowie, Velvet Underground, Patti Smith are among ROA’s influences, and while they take lessons on style, Eddie said the band’s journey has been unconventional.
“I feel like the modus operandi is to record something, and then have a pretty good idea of what your sound is before you go out and gig,” Eddie said, but that’s not the path ROA has taken. “We’re in the process of inventing our sound, refining our sound, while we’re playing shows.”
Music has been a part of their lives since Eddie and Rita were in high school and when Mchael was probably 10 years old, Eddie said. As far as what it’s like being in a band with his brothers, Eddie turns the question around.
“Do you have any brothers?” Eddie asked. “Can you imagine doing something like that with them? … We’re just like any other brothers, we have our own conflicts. … In a way, it makes it easier, because you’re used to yelling at each other.”
Between the familial yelling, the Roas are constantly writing new songs. They’ve been approaching their new album non-traditionally as well, recording outside the studio and feeling more comfortable in their sound—and more confident about their future.
“I’m excited just that now that we do have a professional, recorded EP, we can start to branch out a bit further,” Rita said. “We can try to widen our circle and see what else is out there.”