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Mistletoe hangs over pop scene

Mistletoe's sonic aesthetic music occupies a niche that's somewhere between Weezer and Promise Ring, and with its first CD release Sorry It's Been So Long, on its self-started label, June Records, Mistletoe raises the Emo/dork music banner aloft.

But Mistletoe isn't just for lovelorn college kids in horn-rimmed glasses. Band members Javier Romero and Alex Rose have managed to craft a handful of disarmingly sweet and honest pop songs that listeners can relate to and are oddly touching.

I was fortunate enough to talk with Romero via e-mail.

Daily Lobo: What do you try to achieve with your songs?

Romero: The small orgasm hook, the "what the hell happened to this guy?" lyrics. I actually spent a long time trying to create my own "soma" (Smashing Pumpkins) or "Day in the Life" (The Beatles). I want someday to put people on a roller coaster.

DL: Is honesty a major factor when writing? Are these songs about real girls?

Romero: Yeah, it's about two in particular who I thank in the credits ... well, ... no ... Sally isn't real, and Patty Mayonnaise is a cartoon character. I'm trying real hard these days to stop writing songs that are as literal, but I think honesty is a very good thing because I think it projects to the audience, and it can be more powerful than a million doomy curse words.

DL: How does the writing process work between you and Rose? Is it democratic? Or does one of you assume control? Have you seen much of each other lately?

Romero: I do the brunt of the songwriting, Alex actually acts more or less like a producer would, adding a hook, or telling me I sound like a jackass here or there. Alex has a few really good songs in his own right, but he's got a terrible fear of singing in public. He came and stayed with me over break, we had two really cool shows.

DL: Do you have new material for Mistletoe? Or does most of your energy go in to solo projects? Better yet, where does your musical energy go when Rose is away in Miami?

Romero: I have about 20 to 30 songs waiting in the wings, it seems like we are getting heavier, we were accused of being a hardcore band the last show we played, it was weird.

I think I have a distinction that I'm always blurring, the solo stuff is, hopefully, going to be a bit more electronic since I don't have a band. I get to use a sampler and a drum machine, sometimes those songs are too good not to be used as Mistletoe songs.

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I'm always writing for the next album and sending Alex dumb old MP3's or CDRs. He's doing the same. He's graduating in May, and we'll probably have a real band soon.

DL: Which local bands do you admire and why?

Romero: The Shins (Flake) - their tenacity, they've been doing music and working hard at it for years and now they are on Sub Pop. Last Day Parade - sure they sound like At the Drive In, but they are actually pretty nice guys, and at least they sound like a good At the Drive In-spawned band.

DL: June Records: What was the impetus behind starting the label? Why San Francisco? Have you signed any bands? Are you signing bands, accepting demo tapes and what not? How is it faring?

Romero: June is weird ... we want to have a label, but, right now, we don't have time or money to do it. Right now, it's just Mistletoe, but we have a few bands in mind for doing seven-inch records with.

Alex's parents live in San Fran, it's Alex's deal, we're waiting for the boy to graduate from music recording school. The next album we do hopefully won't be a June album, we want to try to help people besides ourselves. We'll see..

DL: Do you ever lose heart?

Romero: All the time, but this is the only thing I'm good at or excited about in a fairly consistent basis.

DL: Do you have any advice for indie-pop fans?

Romero: Keep looking for good music and develop a well-rounded taste and try to support artists you like.

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