Earlier this year saw star of stage and soon to be screen, Roman Banks release his first EP, 'Days', featuring seven original songs.
Spending the most part of last year covering all three young male leads in Dear Evan Hansen, it has been confirmed that he will also join the cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series in the upcoming second season as Howie, a new character named in memory of Howard Ashman.
While working on stage and screen, Banks put together 'Days', which is a "telling of struggle, celebration, heartache, and homecoming,”
“I’d been wanting to do it for a long time, but I wasn’t going to rush the process. I write when things come to me, and when I felt I had a solid collection songs that I was proud of, I decided that it was time. I’m really proud of this project and the stories it holds.”
We had a chat with Roman on the new release and what he's been up to over the last year!
Please introduce yourself and tell us something interesting about you!
"Hi! My name is Roman Banks. I’m an actor, singer, and musician! An interesting thing about me is that I finished my first Broadway run back in January in a show called Dear Evan Hansen, where I became the first actor of color to play the lead role!"
Where are you from?
"I’m from Stone Mountain, Georgia."
When did you realise you wanted to pursue your music career?
"It was always something that lingered in the back of my mind. I’ve been writing music since my freshman year of high school and I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to drop an EP. I guess it was always just a matter of opportunity meeting preparation. Thankfully, I was able to take advantage of that with all of the time I had backstage at Dear Evan Hansen."
Musically, who is your biggest inspiration?
"Bruno Mars. He’s just on a different level in every way. He really inspires me."
Who are you listening to right now / Who’s on your playlist?
"I can’t shake Lucky Daye’s debut album “Painted” for the life of me. It’s just so good. That, the new Jacob Collier, Kehlani, and Yebba have all been getting heavy love from me lately."
You released your debut EP ‘Days’ at the back end of March, featuring 7 original tracks. How has the reaction been so far?
"Really lovely! It’s been so nice hearing that people like it and getting to watch them listen to and share it. I’m happy my music can be a comfort to anyone, especially right now. Really looking forward to it continuing to grow with time and my career."
Who or what inspired the tracks and which was your favourite to work on?
'Girls? Girls'. So many stories to tell! I wrote 'Scared to Love Again' in late 2016, so these songs just touch on different moments in my life or are a cumulation of many similar moments. “Days” was definitely my favorite to work on though because I think Alexis absolutely kills that track and I couldn’t wait for people to hear her shine on it."
You must have been busy working on both stage and screen productions whilst writing and recording the EP! How did you manage to balance the time?
"A little bit! I had to be at Dear Evan Hansen whether I was performing or not, and I only did about 35 performances over the span of 18 months, so a lot of my downtime was spent continuing to work on the EP in our understudy rooms. I’d just pop on my headphones, plug in my keyboard, and grind away until it was time to leave. Once all the songs were finished, I used my saved vacation time to visit my producer and we recorded the EP in a week. Stressful, to say the least!"
You spent some time on Broadway in Dear Evan Hansen which is a really emotional show, where you played all 3 young male leads - Evan, Connor and Jared. How did you get into each character of the roles you played as they were all so different and which was your personal favourite role to play?
"The process of preparing for Evan was much different because he almost never leaves the stage. So I would show up anywhere from 60-90 minutes before the show and would start to warm my voice, play soothing music, put on my costume, stretch, etc. There was also sometimes extra time needed to go through blocking on stage--as well as apply the cast--so it was always good to have at least an hour if I knew I was going on for Evan. However, Jared and Connor were considerably easier to prepare for, as it was mostly a matter of making sure all of my clothes were on correctly! I would do that, review my harmonies, and for the most part I was good to go afterward! Evan was definitely the favorite, though. It was a dream role of mine."
You will be joining the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series in the second season of the show as Howie. Did you grow up with the original HSM movies? How does it feel to play a part in the future of the franchise?
"I did! And it feels super weird, honestly! I liked the first and second movies, but I definitely wouldn’t have called myself a fan by any means. So to grow up and revisit that world and its nostalgia is such a weird thing to sit with but in the best way! I definitely never thought there’d be any future for the franchise past the third movie, or that I’d ever be tied to it if it were to come about, but here we are! But honestly, I’m just grateful. I love the series and the people and this cast/crew and I can’t wait to get back to set. It’s a magical place."
You’re going from stage to screen to play a role largely about being on stage! What do you think will be the main difference?
"That’s a great way to put it! There are SO many differences, but I think the main one is that almost every setting you’re in is 100% real. Whether you’re in a kitchen or outside or in a gym, you’re really there. You don’t have to imagine everything and it’s so helpful as an actor. So I’m really excited to see how that affects my acting and how I get to incorporate those natural surroundings into my performance. It’s already been so much fun!"
What is your dream role, on stage or screen?
"My only two dream roles so far have been Aaron Burr and Evan Hansen. One down, one to go! God is good."
Can we expect any more original music from you in the future?
"In the famous words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Just you wait.”"
Days is available to stream HERE