Exclusive Interview And First Listen With Leo Romero And His New Band, Travesura

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At just 27 years old, Leo Romero is a real deal skateboarding superhero with an innate ability to make large kinked rails look like child's play. His causal style and fearless approach to gnarly spots make it look like he was simply born to ride a skateboard. Like many skaters both pro and recreational, Leo has found that picking up a guitar and playing music has come as natural as his skating ability—which is not to say he doesn't work hard at both pursuits. His latest musical venture is a band called Travesura, a group that formed after the disbanding of his previous band, Cuates. Leo sings, plays guitar and harmonica in the band Travesura with guitarist/keyboard player Eric Evans and drummer Mark Morones. The band's EP, Scion A/V Presents Travesura drops January 28th and upon first listen you'll hear music ranging from casual stream of consciousness acoustic jams, to Bob Dylan influenced story-songs, to folky rockers. We caught up with Leo Romero at his "Spanish Castle" to get the good word on his latest musical and skateboarding pursuits.—Chris Cote 

Let’s start easy, when did you first pick up a guitar?
Probably around when I was 18.

How long did it take you before you recorded "professionally?”
I started writing my own songs very quickly. My friend taught me some basic chords and stuff and I guess I just started making simple songs after that.

Skateboarders are notorious for being naturally talented at other artistic pursuits—did music come easy to you?
Not really, I wouldn't say I have an ear for it. Some people are more naturally consumed by music. I just really like writing songs. I guess that side of it kind of came easy to me. With skateboarding, I've been allowed the freedom to really do whatever I want with my time. I'm lucky to have the lifestyle that I have, 'cause I don't really have a typical job. I have a lot of time on my hands to dedicate to playing music.

Leo Romero

Frontside feeble grind from Toy Machine’s Skate & Create effort. Photo: MULLER

Pro skateboarder/musician—sounds like you hit the jackpot with two of the best jobs someone could ever ask for.
Honestly, I love that skateboarding and my sponsors allow me to pursue music and even go as far as to support it by inviting our band to play shows and even do tours that revolve around skate tours. I still don't even believe it sometimes. I don't even believe that I get paid to ride a skateboard. I never take it for granted. I know that at any given moment I could break my back or something and it could all end. I'm living in a dream world and trust me when I say I appreciate it so much.

Do you ever feel like you have more to prove as a musician since you're already a famous skateboarder? You know some people are gonna be haters and immediately think, 'Oh here's a pro skater trying to be in a band'.
I don't really give a shit what people think. The way this project happened, with getting a label and all that was really organic. I didn't go out and try to get a label and get famous [laughs]. I love going playing shows and I love playing music and as weird as it sounds, I met a bunch of like-minded people through InstaGram who were down to support the band, like I said, just kind of happens that way sometimes.

When did you start playing shows?
I started playing shows a few years back with my fiend, Chris as a way just to have fun, party, and drink—and we had a lot of fun, partied a lot, and drank a lot. Later on we just kind of went different ways with how we wanted to sound or whatever. After that, I started playing with some other friends and Travesura just kind of formed from that.

Leo going solo at Element’s Branch space during the Brian Gaberman book release party in December. Photo: BLAIR

What does playing a live show have in common with skating a demo? Differences, similarities.
The only difference to me really is during shows I drink, during demos I don't really drink that much [laughs]. It's really the same thing if you think about it. It's a form of entertainment. The people that come out to see you at a demo or a show are coming because they want to see you perform. If you're going out to see your favorite skater, you don't want to see the dude sitting on a quarterpipe complaining and being a baby. If a kid comes to a demo that may have just bought your board, you want to at least show him you're giving it your best. It's the same as a playing a show, people are coming to watch your band, give 'em a show. I'm still trying to prove myself at a demo. I want to do my best and try hard to skate well. I'm not gonna pussyfoot at a demo, and that's the same approach I have to playing shows. People come out to see you; you might as well try your best to entertain them so it's not a waste of their time.

How'd you come up with the name, Travesura?
It means like, hijinks or a prank. I really didn't like the name of my first band and that always bugged me. It's hard to come up with a band name, but when I asked Eric, who I play with now if he liked the name; he did, so it was settled.

Let's get into the record, tell me about the writing process for you.
My writing process is just picking up the guitar and playing. Sometimes it just comes out. It's like skating. Some times you go out and nail a line and have a great day filming, sometimes you suck and can't even do a kickflip. There are so many similarities with skateboarding and music and I think that's why both music and skateboarding are so damn addicting.

50-50 across and down. Photos: BRADFORD

The band's first EP is done, now what?
Playing shows, writing more songs, hopefully recording more, trying to get a full-length album done.

Recording music must be the same as when you film a skate part in a way. You start getting tricks in the bag and fill your part, and by the time it comes out you're already sick of those tricks and want to do better ones or different ones. Once you've played songs a bunch of times and heard them so many times while recording, you're almost ready to move on to your new ones before the album even comes out.
That's exactly how it is. I like the songs we're releasing on this EP. But we're working on these new songs and already really excited about recording them and getting them out there. When you film a skate part you put so much time into it and when it's done, a lot of times you're ready to move on to try to do something better—I guess that's a good problem.

What are you working on skate-wise right now?
I want to get working on a TransWorld interview; hopefully we can start shooting photos and stuff as soon as possible.

Last question: What band would be your dream band to tour with?
Tough one. I think it would be rad to tour with Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis in the 50s for those showcase tours they did. Be fun to party and tour with those guys.

Listen to and download Tree

Leo in TransWorld‘s First Love, 2005