What's the secret to great pancakes? John Roman, drummer for Microwaves and Brown Angel, insists that it's adding eggs, even when the recipe doesn't call for them. But when inviting him over for walnut-banana flapjacks, the real trick is cleverly feigned ineptness, to the point that this veteran of the Pittsburgh scene takes over and makes them himself.
For best results, pancakes with Roman should include a couple of cups of weak coffee served in Ocean City mugs (graciously donated, along with plates and silverware, by Roman, who recently acquired a new set of matching dishes). Also, because he has at some point probably made fun of your taste in music, it is best if Roman provides the pancake-making soundtrack. Consistency is important, so mix well and adulate liberally.
While you mix the flour and the baking powder, Roman mixes in some Meshuggah, specifically its most recent release, obZen. "This is just heavy metal that sounds like giant robots running into each other, which is kind of why I like it," he says. "They should have done the soundtrack for the Transformers movie."
Add wet ingredients, walnuts and "fold in sliced bananas" (though neither you nor Roman are really sure what that means). By this time, Roman has pretty much taken over, as you stand idly by, listening to 30-Minuten Männercreme, by Tom Smith's experimental collective To Live and Shave in L.A.
"It's like fucked-up, skewed karaoke," Roman says. "It just seems like he got a bunch of CDs to skip and then sang his own lyrics over it. It's just a big garbled mess." The album features more than 30 tracks, with titles like "When I Was With Estee Lauder" and "I Shall Eat Peyote." "It's rock 'n' roll!" Roman says.
Finally, while enjoying admirably formed flapjacks, Roman plays one of his favorite records of 2009: D. Rider's Mother of Curses. D. Rider's singer/guitarist was in U.S. Maple, a band that, as Roman tells it, decided, "there are enough 'rock' bands, we're just going to do the 'roll.'" D. Rider, Roman adds, "gives you the impression that the whole band has the flu. Like, they're just on the verge of being nauseous, but not really letting loose." Conveniently enough, Microwaves will open for D. Rider at Gooski's on Jan. 30 (see main music feature). Keep an eye out for the syrup-stained flyers.