The Killer ballad of Michael Valentine

The saga of reformed poker player turned indie musician Rod Pardey continues. Demand for a reunion of Pardey’s Romance Fantasy has resulted in a performance at Royal House at 9 p.m. Aug. 16. The show will expand the band’s mythos in the chronicles of local music.

Romance Fantasy has deep Vegas roots. Son of a local poker pro, Pardey goes by the stage name Michael Valentine. He began writing Americana songs with a Britpop twist in 2001. Recruiting future Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Pardey bled, sweated and teared in Vannucci’s garage until finally debuting at a PT’s Pub. From there, Romance Fantasy enjoyed a revolving cast of Vegas musicians, including Faded Grey’s Shay Mehrdad and Killers touring keyboardist Ted Sablay. (And, for a few short months, even this columnist on bass!) When Vannucci introduced Killers singer Brandon Flowers to Pardey, the result was “The Ballad of Michael Valentine.” The song appears on the Killers’ 2007 B-sides album, Sawdust. Eventually, Vannucci left Romance Fantasy to focus on the Killers. In 2007, Romance Fantasy opened for the Killers and Louis XIV for some dates in Texas, then played Stubb’s during the Austin City Limits music fest before releasing an eponymous EP. And then … nothing. Label interest was zilch.

“We tried hard to make it for a few years, and it didn’t happen,” Pardey says. “I come back to Romance Fantasy with humility. I want to present the band with charm. I want it to be exciting and cool.”

Since then, Pardey has worked for a nonprofit, studied law and played acoustic sets, like he did at Beauty Bar here in 2010. Next Thursday’s show marks the first time Pardey, bassist Frank Salvo (Red Eye Radio) and lead guitarist Levi Stokes have played as a band in five years. “Our fan devotion is small but enthusiastic,” Pardey says. “People are flying in from places like Seattle and Dallas to see us.”

Valentine was always a projection of Pardey’s best self. And his suaveness now possesses more grit, and his band will bring that tenacity to bear on the tunes they’re best known for—the truckin’ pop-rock of “Blackheart,” the seductive country of “Whiskey & Wine”—plus four new songs Pardey wrote before Romance Fantasy folded.

Pardey doesn’t plan to take Romance Fantasy any further than these reunion shows in Vegas and L.A. And while he’s optimistic about his friends the Killers’ new album (“What I’ve heard sounds incredible,” he says), Pardey isn’t starry-eyed about his alter-ego’s prospects. “Michael Valentine made a profile for, and it’s not getting any hits,” he says, laughing.

Notes: Vegas pop-punk band Ministry of Love’s new EP, A Promise for Forever, is out on Negative Progression Records, and it’s a keeper. Punchy songs like the title track are melodic (thanks to vocalist Meg Vitale) and deliver a real rock ’n’ roll wallop. Pick it up at … Time Crashers, Vegas’ only time-travel party-punk band, plays Boomers (3200 W. Sirius Ave.) at 9 p.m. Aug. 10. The band’s stage show grows increasingly elaborate and steampunked-out; don’t miss it.

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