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Genre: Alternative Rock, Rock

Website: http://www.genedante.com

MP3 (click name to download; click player to stream):
A Madness to his Method

OK Sunshine


Gene Dante is the master of the dichotomy. He is both a musician and an actor; a songwriter, with his mind drawn inward, and a performer, with his energy focused outward. The music he creates is both flamboyantly glamorous and strikingly gritty. It resonates with the sparkle of glitter and the rawness of the gutter. It is both class and trash, edge and polish, emotional and entertainment.

The juxtaposition of such predilections should not be surprising since Gene, who got into rock listening to groups like Queen and Kiss as a kid, has walked the line between theater and music throughout his career, often fusing the two interests to work to his advantage. Over the years Gene has toured with The Rocky Horror Show in Europe, formed a production company in Boston to stage and star in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and played The Beast in Beauty and the Beast – always attracting attention with his uniquely emotive voice and charismatic stage presence. Now Gene has focused his lens on his rock career with his band The Future Starlets, where he draws upon his theatrical skills to bring a dynamic visual element to his music.

The latest incarnation of the Starlets, which came together in 2007, reveals, as Gene says, that he’s “the luckiest guy in town,” pulling together a group of musicians able to fully realize the songs Gene has written. With the help of drummer Tamora Gooding, bassist Jim Collins, and guitarist Scott Patalano, (formally of renowned group Mistle Thrush), Gene’s engaging songs are fleshed out into the complex, compelling tracks they have recorded with longtime industry A&R exec and record producer Peter Lubin for the Starlets new album, The Romantic Lead. The album was recorded and mixed at Q Division in Somerville, MA with engineer Jon Lupfer manning the board.

The record, composed of songs Gene wrote over the last two years, is a fully-realized vision, accentuated with Gene’s theatrical flair and remarkable ability to use music to tell a story. “I always envisioned a record much like a show or an opera,” he explains. “I think a record should have an ebb and flow, conflict and climax. These songs tell a story without being super-heavy like a concept album. There are recurring themes. Any song that was too random wasn’t included. This is a fictitious romance between two imperfect people. It will reflect a time and place in my life, but won’t be wholly biographical.”

Crooning on “The Dreamers” and “The Starlet Hits the Wall” and soaring textures on“Like a Satellite” reveal Dante’s ability to draw upon influences like Brian Eno, David Bowie and Neal Diamond in a way that reinvigorates the sounds of post-glam with new life and unique musical flourishes, elevating the usual three-minute pop song to a new height with dramatic flair and genuine passion. It is not just Dante’s penchant for musical innovation that pervades the disc, but his dramatic, humanist sense of emotion that reveals its full range here. Dante says “C Star,” (accompanied by a sexy, swaggering video, directed by Michael Pope) is “intentionally unplayable by mainstream radio. If I must wax intellectual, it’s a proletariat response to the invasion of tabloid photojournalism and the objectification/de-valuation of entertainers as a sub-breed.” While that reveals one end of the album’s unique sonic spectrum, the wholly emotive “To a God Unknown” is, as Dante says in his liner notes, “both inspired-by and an-ode-to the writers I enjoy” where “The prodigal child repeatedly returns bruised, brilliant, and even more beloved.”

Most importantly, though, Dante and his Starlets create songs ready to be translated onto the stage with equal amounts of theatrical fervor and adamant concern for songcraft. “I believe in being a good entertainer and a good artist,” Gene says. “I take my cues from the old school but that doesn’t mean I’m a throwback.”

Or maybe he’s both a throwback and a leader of a new wave. Not a bad dichotomy to master.

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