Lometa are obsessed with putting out the perfect EP. The dynamic alt-rock duo have already released five with impressive results, but the songs don't come cheap. The asking price on their Bandcamp page is $713. That's actually a byproduct of their obsession. You are welcome to buy these songs if you want, but Kevin Diomampo and Johnny Rollins know that you probably won’t and use the high price as a defense mechanism against letting people download songs that may not yet be perfected.
They have been waiting on the patio outside Bolsa Mercado, and prefer to keep sitting out in the cold. Diomampo is wily and engaging; he will eventually win you over. Rollins is more serious and talks less. His brother is a cop who appears in the lead-in for Police Women of Dallas, the wonderful Cops-like show that is exactly what it sounds like. (Rollins’ brother is the guy with a buzz cut kicking in the door.)
They are not exactly mirror reflections of each other, but both are songwriters, and they make the most of their differences. Diomampo writes raw songs with strong emotional cores. Rollins has more of a pop sensibility. The result is something rowdy within the confines of alt-rock-pop. It’s like Rollins is McCartney and Diomampo is Lennon. Rollins describes his approach as “retro pop” and plays keys and guitar. Diomampo says he just does “everything” and seems to think the question of what his music sounds like is a loaded one.
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But Diomampo is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who has roots working extensively with talent out of UNT’s jazz program in Denton. After moving to Dallas a few years ago, he opened a recording studio in Oak Lawn, Regogo Records, and kept it going for a few years, recording much of Lometa’s output. “I pulled in people to play certain things if I couldn’t play it,” Diomampo says. “But I pretty much played everything you hear on the records.”
“That’s pretty much the background,” Diomampo adds, with some sort of strange sarcasm that seems to mock self-importance. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of friends.” When asked why he is trying to sell MP3’s at $743 a pop, he says, “Let’s stop right there,” as if that is a price that seems ridiculous. “It’s $713.”
“It’s to not encourage people to have our music at this time,” Diomampo continues. Interesting business model: Let’s see who gets our songs now! Bandcamp allows them to pick between $1 and $999. Diomampo could’ve put any random price, but he chose to pick a number of personal relevance he isn't sharing.
The members of Lometa view their songs as demos at this point. “In the state they're in right now I don’t want them lingering out there,” Diomampo says, and it seems to pain him to talk about it, as if he is talking about the health of a child.
They like the idea of people streaming the songs because they are endlessly updatable. “Even songs that are released, we may make changes to,” Rollins says.
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Lometa have a great sound. The dynamic progressions and ranging vocals in the pop-rock songs give the band a bottled chaos sound that could have a broad appeal. “I’m too much of an obtuse, abstract thinker,” Diomampo says. But it works well with Rollins’ structured pop, finding something palatable in the middle of two sounds. The music is also driven by a healthy competition between the two songwriters.
It’s easy to imagine Lometa opening for touring acts in front of hundreds of people a couple times a week in Dallas. But so far they have mainly enjoyed attaching themselves to the art scene, working out of a mini-studio in the Design District and playing shows in nearby galleries. Rollins notes that they recently just made their first flier for a show that was actually announced.
They are also sitting on dozens of unreleased songs to ensure there will be a steady stream of releases. “They’re done,” Diomampo says. “We listen to them everyday.”
But they appreciate how songs stand out more on EPs and question how relevant albums are today. To Lometa, an album is a body of work, a final product. And that doesn’t seem to appeal to a band in a constant state of flux. “It’s an archaic way of fighting for people’s attention spans these days,” Diomampo says.