Twisted Roots

MaineList Article: Twisted Roots

Twisted Roots

I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Pete Giordano, front-man of “Twisted Roots”, during a gig at “Warden’s Bar & Grill” in Lewiston. As the band carried their equipment from the cold van towards the side of the stage, I was able to collect a bit more information from the other members too.

Wardens Bar & Grill“This is our 3rd time playing here at Warden’s, and we really love it here. Good people, good food… It’s a classy place.” Pete seemed to reflect back on countless other gigs, apparently verifying within his own thoughts whether his statement might actually be true. “Yeah, This is the way a bar should be!” While listening to Pete’s words, my eyes gazed around the room agreeing it does seem like a great place to perform.

Twisted Roots is a Portland based original rock band who has gained much popularity over the past two decades. Members, Pete Giordano (Vocals/Guitar), Adam Powers (Guitar), Sonny Robinson (Drums) and Mark Lennon (Bass, backup vocals) developed their own musical sound, and have captivated audiences across New England for at least two generations of listeners.

I’ve heard many bands use “Twisted Roots” as a basis for comparison while weighing out the strengths of other bands in the area, which goes to show that they have really made an impact on the local community throughout the years.

Twisted Roots has been known to be one of Maine’s more successful original rock bands. Their reign over the 90’s certainly left a mark on whoever was there during those earlier performances. Yet now, over a decade later, Twisted Roots has gathered a new army of fans and is back in the scene with stronger roots and the same passionate twist that we all knew and loved.

Adam PowersUnforgettable past performances in clubs like Zoots and Geno’s helped launch this Portland band, and who would have ever thought they would one day open up for Ozzy Osbourne at the Cumberland County Civic Center, just a short walk away from some of the band’s own homes in Portland.

“There’s a lot more bands out there today!” The times have changed for Adam Powers, the band’s guitarist and one of the original members of Twisted Roots alongside Pete Giordano. “A lot has changed over the years, we drank a lot more back in those days too.”

I remembered seeing one particular show that stood out in my memory over a decade ago at Zootz where the band posed as a cover band named “S.N.A.P.” which stood for Sonny, Neil, Adam, and Pete. During that show, some of the band members wore wigs over their already long hair, and dressed in radical 80’s style clothes. The gig was meant to be a gag. I still remember hearing a couple of cover songs, like; “I Love Rock n Roll” by Joan Jett, and “Symptom of The Universe” an old Black Sabbath song.

Sonny Robinson“Oh I remember that!” chuckled Adam, obviously amused by the stunt back during the uprising of their past success. “We did some REM song too, and also “We’re Not Going To Take It!” if I recall” explained Adam with a sense of amusement.

“I was in a blackout, I really barely even remember it.” Admitted Sonny, who has been with Twisted Roots since nearly the beginning, after replacing Pete’s brother Phil who originally played drums for the band back in the late 80’s. “That show was definitely a rare thing, and probably a one-time event. We’ve never done anything like that since.”

Mark LennonThe band shared the stage back then with Neil Collins on bass guitar, who was later replaced by Mark Lennon. Neil stayed with the band for a good number of years throughout the 90’s, but eventually moved on to other things allowing Lennon to take his place.

Before Twisted Roots, Lennon held a position in a band called; “Infamy” where he jammed with Greg Burn-Jackson, his brother Damian, Ceasar Violla and for a few gigs Jimmy St.Lennard who now plays guitar for Thrust 13 who happens to be the band opening for Twisted Roots during this interview.

“I’m currently also recording upright bass for Mark Belanger on the next “Pig Boat” album.” Lennon seemed pleased to help this long term friend of Twisted Roots who has been a great help to the band, and proven to be a decent friend over the years. Pig Boat is one of the many bands that Twisted Roots has been known to share gigs with. Some may remember Mark Belanger from an earlier band named “Broken Clown” too.

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Opening for Ozzy“We’re really excited about the Ozzy show. Who wouldn’t be?” The band seemed especially grateful for their upcoming performance opening for who some might consider the Elvis of metal music. “It’s really an honor to be opening for Ozzy, The Prince of Darkness, himself!”

I have spoken with many dozens of people about their upcoming show and have heard many people say that they were more excited to have Roots on the bill than Rob Zombie. Statements like; “I just wish their name was on my ticket stub” or “It’s about time Twisted Roots got a cool break like this!” are evident that the band still has room to expand in their careers as performing artists.

Back On The Scene

The music scene for Twisted Roots has really had it’s share of ups and downs, as to be expected from any band together for nearly two decades. Root’s experiences could easily be divided into two completely different eras, the first being their success with the 90’s local music scene, and then a second success with today’s scene. I have been a part of both of those eras, and would be quick to say that their first success was far superior to what we’ve seen this time around, but with opportunities like the Ozzy concert still arising for the band, there’s no telling what’s still in store for this legendary band out of Portland.

“We came back on the scene about four years ago focusing on writing new material after about a two or three year absence.” Explained Pete, “We would write a batch of songs and listen to them dividing them into two lists. List A would be songs we wanted to do live, while List B needed more work. At first when we came back we merely hoped to re-establish ourselves back into the local music circuit.”

Regardless of the band’s previous experiences and powerful influence on local musicians and fans of the 90’s, getting back into the scene was a lot like starting over again. “We had to do it just like every other band, by hitting radio and newspaper, creating a new product, and really pushing our way back into the scene.” After a second wave of hard work, writing and recording a new album, and booking a lot of gigs in front of smaller rooms of many new faces, the band has finally started to regain themselves once again.

A New Path“12 Skies, Fire, and the Black” gave us our foot back into the scene again.” Pete seemed to recognize that the scene has changed quite a bit since they departed. “Our old friends either disbanded like we did or formed new bands. It made it hard to reconnect with familiar faces, or hook back into our friends networks.”

Pete spent a few minutes going over how the band got back into the scene, explaining the path that they took. “First, we tried hitting National Radio with our new album. We did get some air play with a bunch of Internet Radio Stations which helped us reach out to a wider fan base. Myspace also made a really big difference for us” These kinds of resources were never available when they were last on the scene back in the 90’s. With myspace, Roots fans can find the band much easier than ever before, leave comments, drop off photos or videos, see the band’s schedule, or otherwise interact with the band through the Internet. “Bands we once worked with long ago often find us on myspace and re-establish relations with us for booking gigs. We like to trade shows with other bands who have a reputation somewhere else, and who would like to get their foot in the door in places where we have already built a reputation for ourselves.”

Support Local MusicTwisted Roots was often remembered for their support towards other local performing artists. The band is always quick to shout out a thoughtful “thank you” for the opening band for their own shows, and often encourages the audience to appreciate the opening entertainment as much as the headliners themselves. This sort of demonstrates the passion for original local music that the band upholds for both themselves, as well as their fellow musician friends.

The focus of their song’s lyrical content is on varying subjects. “My lyrics sometimes have meaning, and other times it’s just a collection of fragments pieced together.” Pete confessed, while breaking down how he likes to write his lyrics. “Sometimes the meaning of a song is revealed to me after putting those fragments together.” The pieces of a puzzle by themselves are hard to interpret, but when placed together, can easily portray the meaning hidden that they make up as a whole.

Pete’s charm and energetic expressions come to life on stage, but during a one-on-one conversation I sense an inner peace and patience while dealing with life’s challenges. It seems that Pete’s expressive stage personality can be a release of emotional build-up brought upon by a World not completely in order. “Sometimes, my words are shouting back at people who try to ruin things for other people. People who add unnecessary chaos to the World.” Explained Pete.

Local Radio SupportThe band collectively writes the songs. Twisted Roots currently has 5 Full Length CDs, and 6 EPs which they have recorded throughout their career. WCYY frequently plays a track called “New Monday” which almost didn’t even make their latest CD. “It was one of those things, we had recorded it, and were deciding which songs would be on the CD and which would be cut. “New Monday” was almost removed from the disk, but through encouragement and support, the song found its way onto the disk after all.” Now the song is mixed in with WCYY’s regular programming.

Twisted Roots has had many of their songs played on local radio in the past, and could be considered one of the few bands who actually helped inspire Maine radio stations to support local music. “Sonny was able to talk Brian James from WBLM into just listening to the music and then helped Brian believe in our music enough to give us a chance on the radio.” Stated Adam.

Sonny was friends with Brian James and pretty much made it possible for the band’s songs to be played on WBLM back in the early 90’s. Now, nearly 20 years later, it’s become fairly common for a local band’s songs to be played on WCYY, which is owned by “Citadel Broadcasting”, the same company that produces WBLM and other popular radio stations in Southern Maine today. It seems that if Sonny hadn’t used his friendship with Brian to motivate the DJ to promote local music, that things might have turned out differently with Maine’s Music Scene.

The Legacy Continues

Today, guys like Mark Curdo (Mark with a K) from WCYY have been extremely helpful in promoting local music too, carrying on the legacy and continuing to make sacrifices and risks as Maine continues to prove it’s ability to make music!

“I don’t think original rock bands are ever really going to die out. It’s all about doing things yourself and using your imagination.” Pete explains with elevated enthusiasm, “People aren’t going to stop doing that, and rock music really helps make that possible.”

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