Twin brothers Mike and Rob Moroni are not hard to pick out amidst the crowd: one in a leather jacket, the other in jean, dancing, laughing, talking to everyone they know (which is pretty much everyone in town), they always have some new event, new show, or new thing to tell you about. Although the shows have continued, Viretta has had a lot going on behind the scenes over the last year and a half. Since July of 2014, the group has been working towards their next big “if”, although they admit they weren’t totally sure where it might lead back then. This past July on the last night of The UMS at nearly 1am, we watched the band play what I’ve been referring to as their triumphant return - a set that stood out amongst any show we’d seen them play to date. It was a set that very clearly signaled a new era for one of Denver’s most tride & true rock bands. This “new” Viretta has continued to rear it’s head since then, with a well-sold show in October that kickstarted their newest campaign toward the future - #readyforROCK, and a new EP set to release in December. Music Editor Maddie Casey took some time to talk with Rob and Mike about the past year, their goals as a band, and what the hell they were doing running around a Target in bear costumes last month.
In July of 2014, Viretta quietly went from a quartet to a duo with of the sudden departure of their bassist and drummer. Met with some support, some tension, and admittedly some apprehension, the duo knew what they envisioned for their future, and knew that it meant moving forward without bandmates - at least for awhile. “This has been the most dynamic and stressful year of us being in a band, without a doubt…After parting ways with both our bassist and drummer (who had been with us since 2010), we took some time off, to try to figure out how we were going to get the band working again…Very few times in life do you have to start from zero again. We couldn't have practice, we couldn't play shows... for awhile, it felt like Viretta didn't even exist.”
After playing one last show opening for the Epilogues in October of 2014, it was back to the drawing board for the band. “After the split, we sort of realized how everyone had wanted something different out of the band and everything creative had grounded to a halt. Once we started playing again, we realized that literally nothing was off the table” says Mike Moroni, the group’s frontman and lead singer. “There was such a freedom in having absolutely no boundaries… At this point, I had written over 30 songs that had never been played before. We picked out the twelve BEST ones, called up our old high school buddy, drummer Jon Cales, and hashed them out in a basement for 6 months until we had a completely new catalog. Each practice was literally putting up a new song, crossing it out, and slapping a new one up there. We made a ritual out of it, and it ended up saving the band.”
This ritual not only saved the band, but brought new life and new sound to a band Denver had already come to know and love. Hunkering down during the winter, the band began to work on demos they would eventually record with Denver’s own Joe Richmond - former drummer of Churchill and Tennis, and the audio engineer who has produced the last three songs to win KTCL’s Hometown for The Holidays competition. “We first met Joe in 2012 when we won Spare Parts' Battle of the Bands, and got to have Isaac Slade (The Fray) produce one of our singles; Joe was our engineer. He got to record us when we were still teenagers, and we got to meet him before Churchill really blew up. Three years later, he's exactly the same guy. He's goofy and fun and super humble.” Guitarist Rob Moroni points out what I think has helped solidify the new music track Viretta has taken: “What he emphasized above everything (else) was making something that didn't feel sterile and over-produced. Something signature and unique that we could be proud of."
“Over-produced” and “sterile” are quite the antithesis of what’s being released on Viretta’s upcoming EP. Hearing some of these songs for the first time live, the band’s headlining show at The Moon Room in October was an open canvas; their chance to really try out this new material on fans for the first time. Rip-roaring loud, high energy, and full of angst that can only come from real-life struggle, the band’s new material is heavier than ever before, but packed full of more truth as well. The energy feels real. It’s intense, it’s electric, and it’s something unique in Denver’s eclectic rock scene right now. Their new EP, People Are Snakes, focuses on the bands single, with 2 b-side tracks included as well. A unique approach, this EP feels like the right way to introduce a band who’s faces may be familiar, but who’s new music is entirely different. “‘Snakes’ is our idea of a rock single. Rock isn't about thinking, it's about feeling. When you strip all of the technical aspects of it away, it doesn't even seem complicated, you just get this beat. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. It makes you wanna shake some booty and tear up the room in the best way possible.”
This new intensity might have something to do with the band’s newest marketing campaign, a simple hashtag, #readyforROCK. “(This) started when we submitted our new single, "People Are Snakes" for Hometown for the Holidays” Mike explains. “Being a rock band in Denver actually makes you a minority in a lot of ways. You don't always see as much of a mainstream push for rock music in contests like Hometown, even though Denver concert goers LOVE rock music to death. We came up with the hashtag #readyforROCK as our way of standing out as a band that plays rock music and as a way to get people excited about supporting rock music in the scene. We've started with giveaways for people who share the hashtag and it's been pretty fun, but in the future, we'd love to see it grow beyond just us.”
What’s next for the band? How about an exclusive Music Video Release with Ultra5280 on FRIDAY, 11/20?! In support of their new single, Viretta took it into their own hands to create a music video to accompany the song. When talking about what inspired their music video pursuit, the band looks back to some of their Denver rock predecessors, The Epilogues. “Everybody remembers how it felt when ‘Hunting Season’ came out. When Viretta was just starting, the success that song had and that great music video set a golden standard for us for what we thought we should look to accomplish as a band in Denver.” Here they are, nearly five years later, finally making their homage.
“(Making the video) was so fun! And maybe illegal? Rob had this ridiculous concept involving bears, and me driving around trying to find them while they wrecked havoc. That off-hand idea ended up shaping our entire visual marketing of the EP… There is a great scene where the Bears get "high" on honey and eat a random passerby alive so I had to toss fake blood into the air. Most fun I've had all year.”
Head back to ULTRA5280 on Friday to be the first to watch Viretta’s new music video for “People Are Snakes”, premiering at 11am. To see more of the band up close and in person, grab tickets now to their single release and “Holiday Hangover” show on 12/26 at Larimer Lounge. Tickets are available now from your favorite twin if you see them in person, or through the Larimer Lounge’s website.