10Qs with Oscar Romero of Endless Jags, Foam Castles, brenda, & Gully (and Astronautalis, too!)

Oscar Romero in 2009, performing with Gully at Space Gallery in Portland.

Oscar Romero gets around.  He plays bass in Foam Castles and sings/plays guitar in Endless Jags and brenda.  Previously he lead the band Gully and was part of the 2009 48 Hour Music Festival.  He’s currently providing backing vocals and guitar for Astronautalis on his tour throughout the U.S., Canada, and Russia (see video below). You can download Endless Jags‘ latest EP for free from Bandcamp.

Where were you born?
Elizabeth NJ! In a hospital which was torn down in the 90s.

What brought you to Portland?
My mother moved here for a guy.  I ran into him at the liquor store on Commercial Street.  If he’s reading, Mark Fairbanks: thank you for teaching me to put tuna and miracle whip together, and I’m sorry i stole your cool t shirts.  I was 13.  Sorry brah.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m a direct support professional for people with developmental disabilities when I’m not touring with Astronautalis.  They are incredible and inspiring.

What was your most memorable gig?
Tough one.  Gully pretty much broke up on stage at Geno’s once, I fell into the drum set.  There have been many triumphs on tour and playing with all the projects I’ve been a part of, but the time Gully induced a seizure on someone at empire might take the cake.

What was your worst gig?
Most Gully performances at Geno’s Rock Club… which is nobody’s fault but ours.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Rod Stewart inspires me to sing.  I grew up on NYC FM classic rock, punk, hip hop, and dumb hardcore.  Wilco was the jam for a few years, but I don’t really think there is one artist or album in particular.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
A guitar.  I’ve gone through many so I’m not a gear head anymore.  My dream guitar is an Ibanez 7 string being played through a Peavey Bandit 112 amp.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Practice a lot, record all of it, acknowledge your peers and attempt to be better than them, don’t get butt-hurt that nobody went to your cd release show.  If you live in Portland, make sure you don’t put too much effort in being some sort of local star because all this town REALLY wants is cover bands.  Sorry kids, maybe my music just blows but I’ve seen more people at Rush vs. Death Cab or whatever at Empire.  That’s where the money is, though… in fact, get in that scene, cus at least you’ll have a paycheck here and there.  Make the art you want, have fun, travel, do drugs.  I mean that – not even trying to sound cool.

What’s the origin behind the name Endless Jags?
I liked the word jags, reminds me of a gang, or when someone has an emotional jag, like a “crying jag” for instance, and i think Tyler (Jackson) said endless, ripping off some other local thing he heard or read… together: Endless Jags. It’s very pretty to me.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Q97.9 ? 99.9 The Wolf?

 

Here’s Oscar playing guitar with Astronautilus on Russia TV earlier this month:

*Please note, Factory Portland does not necessarily condone all parts of this interview.  For example, only some Rod Stewart is acceptable and Wilco is still our jam.  Please use your own judgement on the rest. 

Stephen Quirk

Prior to landing his dream job at Automattic, Stephen served as Associate Director of a Boston-based non-profit overseeing the organization's technology, visual design, social networking, and event planning. For twelve years, he worked in the Technology Department at his alma mater, Maine College or Art.

Additionally, Stephen has exhibited his photography in Portland, Maine, Boston, and California. He lives just outside of Portland with his wife and two children.