"Am I Into This?" | A chat with Chad Romero and the Cadillacs

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Friday, January 15, 2016 

under Nightlife by Enjoy Team

Elvis Presley’s birthday (Jan. 8th) just passed us by (as did that of The Ziggy Thin White Stardust Duke David Bowie… and his death-day. Aw) and even though it’s been 39 years (rather than three days) since Presley died, our King of Rock and Roll rises again. This weekend, he’ll emerge lurching from the bathroom stall via a three day resurrection festival. Zombie jokes aside, we're talking about the ‘Happy Birthday, Elvis’ Fest that's about to get Shanghai all shook up. Ooh ooh ooh.


From Friday to Sunday, the fest will put on a range of arty, family friendly, and party-hearty events—that last one taking place at Inferno on Saturday, dubbed ‘Elvis the Pelvis Hip Grind Special.' Not exactly family friendly, but neither was Elvis, nor his pelvis for that matter. You could say his pelvis is timeless, and the mark of any legend is infinite relevance.


We met with Petros Giatrakos, AKA Chad Romero, and Michael Hiller, of Chad Romero and the Cadillacs, for an interview about influences, performance, Elvis and music legends.


EnjoyShanghai: How did you guys meet?


Chad/Petros: [Laughs] At school!
Michael: Yeah, we were both English teachers at the time, but neither of us knew that the other did music for about six months. But then one of our mutual friends, Gill, our drummer now, asked if I worked with this guy, Petros…
C/P: Yeah, and then everything just clicked, musically.


ES: So the focus on old school rock came from everyone?


C/P: No, I initially wanted to a disco show, but Gill had seen me do some rock and roll stuff and pushed us in that direction. I was hesitant because I didn’t think people here would be interested. You know, the rock history isn’t so strong here, but the crowds have been all in their 20s, and they go absolutely nuts.
M: Yeah, we get a big Chinese audience here. And Chad, he’s like an encyclopedia of rock and roll, so we build everything around that. For me, I started playing bass and jazz standards when I was fourteen and sort of made a natural transition into motown, 60s r&b, then rock. So it’s been a while, but Chad has been at this for at least thirty years.
C/P: I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t listening to Elvis.


[Chad takes a black folder from his bag and places it on the table. The folder’s spine is labeled with ‘Chad Romero CV’, which disappears when he opens the folder and starts flipping through newspaper clippings. Black and white and weathered newspaper clippings—cabarets, comedies, musicals, other bands, but still with the glittering suits. Chad has been in the game for some time, and is still at it.]


M: For the longest time, I didn’t know this guy. I just knew Petros, but when we got together to talk about the band I saw this, and I saw something we could build a band around. This whole Chad Romero character, with all the sounds, and the costumes, and the style. We wanted to nail the feeling of a 1950s dance party.



ES: Yeah, I’ve seen some clips of your shows, and the charisma you have on stage is so over-the-top in the most fun way. How did you come up with that?


M: He reminds me of a 1950s Alice Cooper
C/P: Hah! Yeah, a lot of shows I’ll see people’s gears grinding on their faces, like, “Am I into this?” And if they can tap into it, open their hearts to it, they come up to me after the show and tell me how happy it made them feel. But I have a background in acting and comedy. David Bowie was a big influence for me, because for every album he had this different persona. It all sort of comes together when I do rock and roll. When I see Bowie and Alice Cooper, who put on this whole show, a whole persona, that, for me is—it’s theater, it’s music, it’s concert, it’s everything.


ES: So besides a whole performance, what kind of music are people going to hear when you guys play at Elvis Fest?


M: Definitely a lot of Elvis classics, but other great 50s and 60s rock songs too.
C/P: ‘Surfin’ Bird’. If you already thought that song was over the top, wait till you hear us play it.
M: ‘Jailhouse Rock’. Elvis’s first international hit ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Other great Elvis hits.
C/P: Other legends of the era, too, Little Richard, Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’.
M: Definitely come out for the other bands, too. We’re really looking forward to jamming with them.
C/P: It’s going to be great.





And, after we turned off the recorder, we all found out that David Bowie had died. Sad, and a bit eerie. No word on if Chad will reinvent himself as a David Bowie tribute act, but you might be able to ask him in person after the event, if he isn’t inundated by screaming fans of the King.


Details of the 'Happy Birthday, Elvis' Fest - Elvis The Pelvis' Hip Grind Special below:

When: Jan 16, 9 pm
Where: Inferno, Bund Square, Unit 6-103, 1/F, 658 Dapu Rd, near Longhua E Rd


View Inferno Information