Rom Gov of Seek Irony
Hard rock has always been a musical genre based on taking risks, defying the status quo, and pushing beyond comfort zones, armed with an arsenal of distorted guitars and thrashing drums. From the Who and Led Zeppelin all the way to Metallica and Slipknot, the raw power of hard rock’s fiercely independent and self-deterministic attitude has produced groundbreaking music that has compelled generations of fans to find their own voices.
Conversely, however, the annals of rock stardom have also become littered with tragic examples of bands whose lifestyles embodied rock and roll attitudes to the point of personal demise. “Rockumentary”-style falls from grace have become absorbed into rock culture as much as tattoos, leather pants, and swaggering sex appeal. Perhaps in the 21st century, the most rebelliously hardcore thing a rocker could do would be to embody all of those latter things while managing to avoid the baggage of the former. And if that combined with pushing boundaries, taking huge chances, and achieving one’s vision of success by sheer hard work and determination are the keys to modern rock and roll glory, then Dixon artist Rom Gov is a rock star in the making.
Rom is the drummer and founding member of Seek Irony, a band that blends hard rock with elements of electronic dance music, such as techno and trance. For the past four years, the band has been based in Austin, TX, a renowned fertile crescent of original music and home of the behemoth music and media festival South By Southwest. But the full story of Rom and Seek Irony actually goes way back to his birthplace in Tel Aviv, Israel, by way of musical infusions acquired during years spent living in Paris, France.
From France to Israel to the United States, Seek Irony’s music and Rom’s drumming tell an inspiring story of hard work, determination, and the never-ending need to rock! We asked Rom to share his insight on the band’s new album Tech and Roll, his drumming background, what it was like to pick up and move into a huge music scene halfway around the world, and of course, his Dixon drums.
Take it away, Rom.
First, I want to say thank you. I’m really honored to be part of this company, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share my story with your readers.
I’ve been playing the drums close to 23 years, and I’ve been working as a professional drummer for over 10 years. I teach drums, and I’ve been working as a session drummer for projects all around the world for bands of all genres. I’m originally from Israel. I moved to America four years ago.
I started playing when I was really young. Back then my family lived in Paris, France, and it all started because of my brother, Kfir Gov (lead singer and co-founder of Seek Irony). He started playing the guitar and six months after he started, I envied him and wanted to play something as well. At first, I wanted to play the guitar like him, but then I thought maybe I should play the drums so that we could play together.
My parents were very against it. It took them a year until they caved. I pounded on everything in the house, and eventually they decided that for my eighth birthday they would rent a drum kit for a month and see if I was serious. It was very easy to commit to it because, since we were children of diplomats, our lives were very much spent at home all the time. My brother and I spent a lot of time playing together. We were very into music, even though my family wasn’t.
In France, I found a teacher who was a really cool jazz player. He taught me the basics. But I was a rocker. I loved Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. That’s what I wanted to play. I remember as a kid watching Headbangers Ball on MTV, just looking at the drummers, trying to do the same faces and all that stuff. As for influences, early on Lars was my idol, and Vinnie Paul, and Nick Menza, and all the rockers. After that, I was more into progressive music and so, of course, Mike Portnoy is one of the biggest influences on my drumming. Then it was Josh Freese and Morgan Rose from Sevendust.
At that time in the 90s, the gap between Israel and the Western world was very big, culturally. The music scenes in Israel were very small, and it was weird to see people who were into rock ‘n’ roll and music in English and stuff that, now, you just take for granted; it’s part of Israel now. Back then, as a kid moving back from France, it was a huge shock because I was a very liberal person. I had blue hair in sixth grade! (My parents were really cool…) I had metal T-shirts and I was a huge fan of metal culture. I also listened to classic rock, grunge music, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, etc., and in Israel, those bands were unknown.
So, I think me spending three years in Paris made me who I am today, in a sense, because that’s when I kind of discovered everything about music and about myself. This is who I am, this is what I love. And it’s really rare that it happens in the third-grade. It really helped that I had an older brother who was very much into it, as well, and we kind of did it together. Later on, when I moved back to Israel, obviously it all got developed, so Israel had an impact, as well. But Paris definitely made the first impact that was the foundation for everything that happened afterwards.
My first show at a venue was in Tel Aviv when I was 10 years old. I will never forget my parents took us there around 11PM, and they stayed outside until 4 AM so they could drive us back home. Just think about it – at 10 years old playing in the middle of the night at a rock venue with punk rockers and metal music all around. I still don’t understand how my parents did it. That was extremely cool of them.
My approach to drumming might sound technical but it’s not necessarily that. I’m very influenced by Dave Grohl on one hand but Mike Portnoy on the other. What I’ve liked about Mike Portnoy since I was really young wasn’t really the fact that he’s a great drummer and he plays very complicated things and all that. It was more about how artistic he is. It sounds like he is creating music on the drums. So when it comes to bands that I’m in where I use it as an artistic platform, where I can really express “my voice,” I really spend time on creating drum parts. Not just playing the beat, not just doing what would work, but sometimes I explore and really try to do something a little bit different or interesting, without taking the focus away from the song.
A good example is the Seek Irony song “Head Above Water.” I remember when we wrote the song, we had the electronic loops first, and then we added guitars and everything. With that structure as a guide, I spent six hours alone in the studio writing drum parts where every singe accent on the high hat, every cymbal, every fill, was completely composed, nothing was improvised. In every measure, I went deep and tried to do the most artistic things I could think of to serve the song. It doesn’t have to be complicated or really progressive, but sometimes it’s small things. A great example of a drummer who does that is Josh Freese, where you hear that every detail is part of his sound.
Now it doesn’t mean that I do that all the time. Sometimes I play with other people and I need to take the “less is more” approach, which is really important. You know, if I play with a country band, I’m not going to try to play something cool and unique on the hi hat when you just need to do a train beat. But you try to bring something of your own to every project, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be what you play – sometimes it’s just how you sound.
Seek Irony: The Beginning
Seek Irony is a band that my brother Kfir and I created a long time ago when we were teenagers, and we played a different style back then. At that time the band was called Sick Irony, and our sound was heavier, like metal. But because Tel Aviv is one of the capitals of EDM, we were also very influenced by that growing up. Naturally, the sound of our band developed over the years to become a combination of electronic music and more mainstream hard rock.
We developed a local following in Tel Aviv. We played all around and we brought a good amount of people. So we decided that it was time to try to do something more than that. We flew on our own to America for the first time. This was way before YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and all that. And that’s when we came to Texas for the first time; we played at Fort Hood for some soldiers and we had a great show. That was in 2004.
In the meantime, we were based in Israel and we were developing our professional careers. We owned the busiest and the best recording and rehearsal facilities in Tel Aviv. I was a session drummer and a teacher, I played for 15 regular projects, and I had 50 students a week. I taught at schools. My brother produced up to 12 albums a year. We were extremely busy and very, very established back home.
Eventually, after a few trips to do stuff in the US, we decided to start the process of relocating here. We got the visas and we decided to do it, to take the risk. We quit our jobs. We sold our business, and we decided on Austin as our destination because it was our favorite place that we had visited in the US. It’s a Music Town. We saw a lot of opportunities here, and it was very important for us to find a place where we could live a good life. Our manager was in LA and we knew that LA wasn’t good for us on a personal level. We knew that life was about more than just being a musician—you need to have a good environment and good people around you. Austin is great for that. My brother and I knew that we needed to start everything from scratch, a new beginning.
Seek Irony: A New Beginning
When we moved to America, we met Adam Donovan (bass) and Alex Campbell (guitar). They are amazingly talented musicians. Adam is just brilliant—he knows everything about everything. And Alex is a GRAMMY-nominated guitar player. Seek Irony just developed our following here in Texas until we got to a point where UDR, which is a label from Germany, noticed us and came to see us during SXSW. That process led to where we are right now.
Our sound is what we call “Tech and Roll,” which is also the name of our new album. It’s 50% straightforward rock and roll and 50% techno, EDM—everything that is electronic music. It took a long time until we got the perfect blend between the two sounds, where it made “one sound” that I think represents who we are. A lot of people immediately assume it’s like Industrial just because it has electronics, but the electronic part of our music is more influenced by EDM or trance music, drum and bass—stuff that you hear more in Europe.
We built a studio in Austin called Evil Snail Studios, where we record for Seek Irony, as well as other projects, and now we are four guys doing everything on our own. We bought lights and Adam and Alex designed a crazy light show that we take on the road with us. We even created our own tour bus! We took an old airport shuttle bus and converted it to run on veggie oil, like deep-frying oil. We destroyed the inside and built a tour bus out of it, and that’s how we travel to shows!
On Dixon Drums
Dixon is one of the most amazing things that has happened in my life. The concept of an endorsement deal is very new to me. Coming from Israel, we just don’t have it—it is such a small market. Gear in general is very limited over there. Here (in the U.S.), it is endless. Jim Uding (Dixon U.S. Product Manager) is just incredible! He is one of the nicest and most professional people I know. I can say endless good things about him. I feel like Dixon is very similar to an experienced Indie label, like how we are with UDR. They have the funds and the power to create opportunities like a major label, but you are talking to the founder of the label or the CEO. It’s the same with Dixon Drums—the products are as professional as any major company, but I can reach out and talk to Jim about creative things, which is incredible.
As for my drums, I had asked Jim what he thought about creating an acrylic kit. I told him about my vision that Seek Irony has a complete light show and I talked to him about a cool acrylic kit with lights in it that will be pre-programmed with our stage light show. He fell in love with the vision—he understands exactly what we are as a band, and he made it happen. They made me an acrylic kit in the sizes I wanted (24” kick, 12” tom, 16” floor tom) with two snares, and it sounds incredible! Massive and fat and punchy, all at the same time.
So far I’ve had a few Seek Irony shows with it and man, people are just flipping. At first because of the way it looks. But then they hear it and they are like, “What is this? It sounds so good!”
Acrylic has a unique sound, and it isn’t suitable for every situation, so Dixon also sent me a Blaze kit, and it is amazing. It projects, and it goes low; it is just incredible. My brother loves it in the studio. We record other bands on it. It just feels good, like butter.
It’s funny that every time I take a kit out to a gig and do a quick line check, the sound guy tells me in the monitor, “This is one hell of a kit.” It’s funny because the bands that I play with got used to it, and it has became an ongoing joke. Like, “Yeah, we’ve heard that before.” That’s really cool!
If you had asked me four years ago if something like this would happen for me, I would have said, “Dude, that is a fantasy.” I’m just really honored and grateful for this opportunity, not to mention that I’m on the same roster with amazing drummers like Gregg Bissonette and (fellow Austin drummer) Brian Ferguson. These are very exciting times!
Seek Irony’s debut album Tech and Roll is available for pre-order on iTunes at itunes.apple.com/us/album/tech-n-roll/id1124256803 and you can follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/SeekIrony. Check out their live performance at Austin’s Batfest below!
Thunder storms or not, it was a pleasure being part of BatFest this year! Thanks to the production crew for deciding "Show Must Go On!" and to the brave souls among you who made it out to the show despite of the crazy weather! This is Skin to Skin. #SeekIrony #TechNRoll #batfest2016
(Video footage by Brett Rivera and M. Edmund Howse Video edit by Liron Langer )
Posted by Seek Irony on Thursday, August 25, 2016