I have a ton of respect for Dom Romeo. Throughout the years, I've seen him hustle as both a musician (Pulling Teeth, Slumlords, Day of Mourning) and a label owner (A389 Recordings), bringing the world a seemingly endless array of quality metal and hardcore releases. A fellow family man, Dom somehow still manages to find time to bring his Vinnie Vincent-like sorcery to crowds all over the world via his role as lead guitarist and co-songwriter in Integrity. While I type this, he's in Mexico with the band performing with the band in support of their recently released masterpiece, Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume album. In October, Integrity will cast down their Holy Terror throughout Japan.
I'm lucky enough to call Dom a friend and he's championed No Echo going back to the site's launch in 2014, so it's really fun to have him be part of the Record Collector club.
How long have you been collecting records?
I’ve been collecting records for most of my life. When I was super young, my grandparents had an amazing collection of Italian 45's by the likes of Claudio Villa and Adriano Celentano, while my mom had a huge Elvis Presley collection. I was always surrounded by music growing up, and had a close bond to it. If you don’t count the mishap where my mom tried to bait-and-switch Van Halen 1984 for Lionel Richie Can’t Slow Down, the first vinyl albums I owned were the Beatles Reel Music and Elvis Presley I Was the One. I remember getting them both at a Canadian department store called Towers back in the early '80s.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
If it’s something that I need to have here and now, I try to either order it directly from the label or from Discogs. Otherwise, I enjoy finding records randomly out in the wild and putting money into the hands of physical record stores. It gives me something to look forward to doing when I’m out. Baltimore has a lot of great record stores. On the rare occasion my wife and I get a night out, our date night always consists of eating sushi, followed by a binge at The Sound Garden in Fells Point. I also really enjoy visiting Celebrated Summer Records when I find myself on that side of town. Before it closed, we had an awesome neighborhood shop called Shock Dr. Records…it was always loaded with '70s/'80s metal records and was my favorite place to hang out.
Now that I’m travelling a bit with Integrity, I’m excited to visit a lot of cool shops wherever our gigs take us. Last time we were in Holland, I found a ton of cool stuff and spent way too much money at a store called WAAGHALS. I’m excited to see what Mexico City has to offer this weekend, and of course, to recreate, and hopefully surpass, my Japanese record-shopping bender of 2008 next week in Japan.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
The craziest price I ever paid for a record cannot be divulged, as it was purchased from a private party in Russia (whom wishes to remain nameless). For a brief window a few years ago, they were offering action figures of select A389 Recordings alumni which were accompanied by a 7” record. While the action figures are absolutely strange, the record that accompanies them is even more bizarre. It’s only one track: a recorded phone call (which I can only assume is between the characters portrayed by the action figures), where the two guys are arguing/disputing each other’s fame. Other than that, I remember paying a couple hundred dollars for an original pressing of Melvins Houdini as a birthday present for my wife years before it became readily available again. It’s one of my all-time favorite albums as well, so it didn’t sting as much as it could have.
If you to pick one record label you feel had/has the best track record of quality releases, who would that be and what are some key titles you love?
Nowadays, for me, it’s definitely Daptone Records. I love everything they put out and continue to buy their releases blindly. You really can’t go wrong with any of their catalog, whether it’s Charles Bradley (RIP) or Sharon Jones (RIP) or their more obscure artists. I just love the effort they put into making sure the records are perfect from the songs, to the performances, to the recording right up to the packaging / presentation. My favorite releases by them are the latest albums by The Como Mamas and Naomi Shelton. I hope both artists release new music soon.
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?
Can I pick two? I think I’m going to have to…. The Elm Street Group Freddy's Greatest Hits. When I was a kid, I watched an insane amount of horror movies. So many in fact that I lived in some sort of alternate reality where these characters and stories actually existed. Long story short, I would go to bed every night terrified that Freddy Krueger was going to get me in my sleep. I was 10 when I saw this record on the shelves of Towers….and I was totally shook! Freddy Krueger was indeed real...and now he was making records, too! Every time I walked by the record section, I’d put something in front of it so I didn’t have to look at him on the cover as I flipped through other albums.
Anyways, years later, I finally obtained a copy at one of my favorite old Toronto haunts: a store on Queen West was called Neurotica. Freddy’s Greatest Hits is probably my favorite record in my personal collection. I love everything from the dated sounding '80s pop music, to the Freddy ad-libs in the songs (his rap in"‘Dance or Else" is next level) and everything in between. It’s definitely one of the best/worst records I own and could have benefited from upping the Krueger content.
Fast-forward a few more years to a horror convention where Robert Englund was appearing. I was standing in line for an autograph, and the person ahead of me asked him about "the Freddy album," to which he tried to downplay its existence. He said something along the lines of, "Oh, that was a few laugh tracks on someone’s record…I never did an actual album." I was next in line and he just kinda sighed when I handed him my Freddy LP to autograph. It was actually a two-prong attack on him, since my friend was next in line with a copy of the Fat Boys Are You Ready for Freddy 12” single [laughs].
Ringworm The Promise 12” (Test Press). This is the T/P from the original album released on Incision Records in 1993. I've punished Frank Novenic and Human Furnace for decades with my obsession over this album which culminated in 2007, when my old band Pulling Teeth played a show opening for Body Count at Peabody’s in Cleveland. That was a magical night for sure. Not only did I get to meet Ernie C and see him shred, I also got to witness a local opening band who was offering an 8x10 photo of their vocalist as their only merchandise option. It wasn’t even a live shot or studio portrait either. It was just a shot of him standing on a dock in flip-flops kind of giving a deer-in-headlights look as if he was caught off-guard. Before you ask…no, I did not buy a picture and yes, I regret it to this very day.
Anyways, Frank attended the show and told me he had a surprise waiting for me in his car. We went outside, and he said something along the lines of, "I know how much you love this record, and it’s the last one I have," and handed me the record. I was completely floored and couldn’t believe it. Frank’s guitar playing in Integrity/Ringworm was a huge influence on me growing up and getting this gift directly from him was the icing on the cake. I am getting amped up right now just thinking about it! I’m going to listen to The Promise after work, and wonder what that guy in that relaxing dock band photo is doing at this exact moment.
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
Not really. Music has always been a very personal thing for me and collecting records is no different. If I want something, I find a way to get it. I don’t really bother to pay attention to what’s going on otherwise.
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
I have a buddy in the UK named Kieran that finds the most random obscure stuff for me. He's the best. He actually just sent me a copy of Pantera Projects in the Jungle, which is my favorite Pantera album next to Vulgar Display of Power. He checks in periodically and manages to find the craziest stuff for me overseas. I’d love to obtain some of the Claudio Villa singles my grandparents had when I was a little kid. I was too young to understand how to treat them with the respect they deserved. I’m obsessed with Alessandro Alessandroni and have been slowly acquiring boutique represses of his stuff as it becomes available. Much easier than tracking down the originals. Igginbottom’s Wrench, some mid-era Hayden albums I’m missing…would definitely love to stumble across some original Cambodian singles by Sinn Sisamouth, Pen Ran etc. The second Life of Agony demo tape, and I'm always looking for KISS bootlegs. It’s a lifelong quest, soon as I think I have everything I want, I discover new things.