Ruben Romano Premieres “Not Any More”; The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile Out Aug. 9

ruben romano twenty graves per mile

Ruben Romano will release The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile (review here) — which, rest assured, actually exists despite all the imagination — through Desert Records on Aug. 9. It is the first solo outing for Romano, also known for fronting The Freeks on vocals and guitar and whose pedigree includes having drummed in the initial incarnations of both Fu Manchu and Nebula, and might at first seem like a striking stylistic turn as Romano taps into Western atmospheres and ramble, wagons loaded and headed out Californey way across 10 homecooked tracks of unfolding landscapes.

Romano tells the story of the record himself below, and I don’t want to keep you from that, but as you dig into the premiere of “Not Any More” below — and the album was self-released in February, so it was out there, though it’s been taken down from Bandcamp now; I have no idea about Spotify and the rest, it could be streaming all over the place and honestly, if it is, fine — don’t go into it thinking “rock record,” because that’s not what’s happening here. Nuanced percussion around subdued acoustic guitar arrangements, some slide here and there; the priority isn’t necessarily all-volume-all-the-time, and it wouldn’t really work as a ‘soundtrack,’ imaginary or otherwise, if it were. You can hear the casual roots in the strum of “Controversy Follows” or “Chuck Wagon Sorrow,” but the songs are fleshed out well in terms of arrangement, and though it’s positioned as instrumental, you’ll hear some watery whispers in amid the Morricone stretches and snippets of country-tinged meander, given just an edge of weirdo-psych through effects and an exploratory sense in the making as much as the material.

That is, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile — you might be forgiven for just calling it Twenty Graves Per Mile — is Romano‘s first public foray into the style, and comes through as somewhat experimental as a result, but there’s nothing tentative about it as the rhythm of “The Trail is Long” evokes the hooves walking that same trail or the penultimate “Jump Off Town (From Everywhere)” hints at an almost post-rock float brought to the proceedings that, if there’s a next time, might be something to listen for in terms of the project’s development. I won’t speculate on that, but one way or the other, Romano‘s dive is headfirst throughout what’s still only a 27-minute LP, utterly manageable even for the most modern of attention spans and at no risk of overstaying its welcome.

You’ll find “Not Any More” on the player below, followed by some background on putting it all together from Romano himself, the preorder link, and so on.

Please enjoy:

Ruben Romano on Twenty Graves Per Mile:

I actually never set out to do this project, by that I mean, it was not preconceived, not yet anyway. What happened first was that I came to realize that I had acquired enough musical gear to satisfy all points needed to complete an ensemble. The urge is great, I know, but why did I need to buy another guitar or amplifier when I have several of every variety already. So I switched my collecting tendencies towards recording gear. I’m a…“Let’s see what happens..” kind of person.

I enjoy sitting on my porch with an acoustic guitar, noodling, jumping from this major chord to that minor chord, adding a 7th and a 9th, or maybe sus it. I have always enjoyed playing with sounds, if something makes a sound I’m in, I’ll tinker until I figure something out. This leaves me wide open to whatever. I may be lumped into a certain genre that creates expectations but I can’t really be so loyal to just one type of music when it’s just too vast to not enjoy everything that’s out there. So, it’s to figure out some sounds, put some chords together and let’s see what happens…. I love doing things like this and it’s the same approach I used for “Twenty Graves Per Mile” as I do for my main rock band The Freeks. All of this leads me to enjoy late nights in the garage, now with the ability to record the idea, and further expand it. I sacrifice sleep as I can’t really stop once I get started, and I’m ok with that. A lot, if not all, of these songs were constructed this way but really it’s thanks to Les Paul for inventing multitrack recording.

I live in a Condominium with my wife and daughter and also two cats. I’m smack dab in the middle of the building with neighbors on both sides and also above, so volume is an issue. Acoustic guitar and a really sensitive condenser mic are my main tools. I also did a lot of direct line-in recording when it came to adding electric instruments here at my home. I’m ok with this because at the same time I’m still learning my recording process, instrument modeling is a part of that. When I have something going and it’s ready for even more, I also have a full mobile recording unit that The Freeks use at our rehearsal room. So I am able to record acoustic drums as well as loud guitar amplifiers, my latest gem is a new Fender Vibro Champ Reverb amp.

Reverb and Vibrato have always been my favorite tones, Chorus is my least favorite. So I bounce from one studio to the other, transferring and importing tracks as I go along. I have already been tracking these songs with no intentions for them, just doing what I like to do, it’s a hobby. So when Covid hit me, an opportunity kind of fell into place. As I quarantined at home, I fell into a TV binge, watching different series about our Great Frontiers Men, Westward Expansion and The Oregon Trail. It all just blended in my head. They expanded west, I expanded my ideas and I got reverb to prove it. I just kept recording little tunes more and more, and my computer filled up very quickly. I began transferring them to external drives to create space for even more to come.

So I started to sift through them and I started finding songs that I totally forgot about. Late nights in that garage produced some fun and even silly things as well as some rather deep things. For example, the song “The Trail Is Long ” must have happened really late with a fine smoke, some good bourbon and a sad memory. I totally forgot about it and now it’s probably my favorite song on the record. However, all the songs have a place in my heart, of course, there is a joy in taking a little acoustic guitar lick conceived on the porch that eventually becomes a completed song like “Sweet Dreams Cowboy”. There is a great sense of pride in that.

The Imaginary Soundtrack To The Imaginary Western “Twenty Graves Per Mile”
Releases on August 9th, 2024
Desert Records
CD, Cassette Tape, Digital Download


1. Load the Wagon
2. About to Bloom
3. Sweet Dreams Cowboy
4. Chuck Wagon Sorrow
5. Not Any More
6. Ode to Fallen Oxen
7. The Trail is Long
8. Controversy Follows
9. Jump Off Town (from everywhere)
10. Load the Wagon (reprise)

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