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Tragic youth

With a shiny new record deal, TRT is living the teenage dream

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Cammilleri (center) leads the charge at March’s Extreme Thing.
Photo: Ryan Olbrysh
Pj Perez

You wouldn’t think to call someone barely old enough to legally drink alcohol “grandpa.” But that’s exactly what the other members of This Romantic Tragedy call singer Jay Cammilleri, who, at 23, is the oldest member of the Las Vegas post-hardcore band. With two of its members still a year away from graduating high school, the sextet has already accomplished something many of its peers only dream about—signing with a record label. Specifically, North Carolina’s Tragic Hero Records, home to such heavy bands as He Is Legend, Scapegoat and Confide, the latter of which headlined a short western tour with This Romantic Tragedy, which wrapped up over Independence Day weekend.

“I get to watch one of my favorite bands [Confide] every time we play,” said Cammilleri, as the band drove to St. George, Utah, for its penultimate date. “They’re really generous, really nice. Every time we play with them, they tell us ‘good job.’ It’s good for bands to work together and not compete at all.”

If it sounds like This Romantic Tragedy’s first time out on the road is an idyllic experience, well, that’s not far off. Aside from the somewhat cramped quarters—the young band—Cammilleri, guitarists David Diaz and Kyle Huender, bassist Carlin Leavitt, keyboardist Gabe Centeno and drummer Mark Neuhardt—spent about a week and a half crisscrossing Nevada, Utah and California in a passenger van with two beds in the back—the road trip was relatively drama-free.

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From the Archives
This Romantic Tragedy: Taste of Chaos tour (02/19/09)
Band Guide
This Romantic Tragedy

“I’m claustrophobic, so I never sleep back there,” Cammilleri said of the van’s accommodations. “We’ve stayed somewhere everywhere we’ve played, so we’re getting our showers and getting our sleep.”

Even nabbing a deal with the label many of its influences call home came surprisingly easy, even to the band, which has been together just under three years. “It’s crazy how it happened,” said Cammilleri. “We were looking for someone good to record with. We were referred to Cory [Spotts], who referred us to Stewart [Teggart, the band’s manager]. Everything hit off from there. Stewart started shopping around and thought Tragic Hero would be best for us.”

Tragic Hero will re-release Trust in Fear, the EP This Romantic Tragedy recorded in January with Phoenix-based Spotts, whose other producing credits include Blessthefall, Greeley Estates and The Maine—and the band will begin writing a new record this summer. A video shot by Daniel Chestnut for the song “Worst Part of Waking Up”—a four-minute capsule of This Romantic Tragedy’s trademark collision of guttural screams, machine-like drumming, keyboard swells and occasional melodic breaks—was recently unleashed upon the Internet. And, as a measure of its youthful energy, the band will hit the road again with Confide at the end of August, just in time for a new year of school. But Cammilleri assures that the school-age members of This Romantic Tragedy won’t be throwing away their education. “They’re doing special school online,” he said. “All the parents already know about what’s going on.”

Or at least, they do now.

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