DB HOF NO. 10
The making of Botch’s “We Are the Romans”
label: Hydra Head
1999 was a transitional year for both underground music and America’s most iconic freestanding structures. Seattle’s Space Needle was no longer the world’s tallest metaphor for heroin abuse, and Tacoma/Seattle quartet Botch were about to redefine a genre with the hyperkinetic guitar squalls and contortionist rhythms of We Are the Romans. On the other side of the country, the Twin Towers were two years away from being annihilated in a terrorist firestorm, but Botch guitarist Dave Knudson had already drawn a target over the New York City skyline on the album’s unforgettable cover. By 2002, both the Towers and Botch were gone: Chronic tension between Knudson (currently of Minus the Bear) and drummer Tim Latona forced the band tits up before it ever really got its due. Bassist Brian Cook and vocalist Dave Verellen went on to form Roy (Cook is also a member of These Arms Are Snakes; Verellen is also a Tacoma firefighter), and Botch released a posthumous EP, An Anthology of Dead Ends, in late 2002. But We Are the Romans lives on as one of the most influential “hardcore” records of the last decade, its jagged grace and terminal discord revered by the likes of future noise-mongers Norma Jean, the Used and Every Time I Die—which is ironic when one considers that the album essentially called bullshit on the prevailing hardcore aesthetics of its time. Produced by Matt Bayles (who went on to record similarly lauded albums by the likes of Isis and Mastodon) at Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho, We Are the Romans is the electrifying epitaph of a band that quit while it was way ahead.
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