About 2 weeks ago on twitter I noticed a post from Robert Schwartzman (lead singer from the band Rooney) offering email interviews for anyone with an interest in their music who writes for a blog (be it their own or an online music source). Being a blogger (eek) and a big fan of the music that Rooney produce I decided to send through some questions to see what breaking out and releasing their new album without a major record label is like.
Who: Rooney are a 4 piece indie-rock band from Southern California consisting of singer and bassist Robert Schwartzman, keyboard player / vocalist Louie Stephens, guitarist / vocalist Taylor Locke, and drummer / vocalist Ned Brower
What: They are releasing their third LP on June 8th titled "Eureka" on their own label California Dreamin' Records
You may have seen them: "Sh-sh-Shakin'" on an episode of The OC or Robert and Ned were in the movie The Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway
Hits: Shakin', Blueside, When Did Your Heart Go Missing?, I Should Have Been After You
Describe your band in 5 words.
Melodic, catchy, colourful, harmony, rhythmic
Can you tell me a bit about how your band formed and what success within this band now means after 10 years.
We met in high school in 1999 and starting jamming in Taylor's garage as much as we could. We played mostly covers and a few originals I had worked up. I didn't intend on starting a band or being the lead singer of the band, but it just happened. We played around town on the weekends and promoted the shows at our high schools. We put flyers everywhere and sold tickets to people we knew just to get some stage time. We opened for local bands and built up a solid following in the Southern California area pretty quickly. We made EP's and T-shirts and had a nice little operation going before we got signed by a major label. Our goal was to make an album and tour. We were signed in 2002 and hit the road that Summer with Weezer. That fall, we were asked to out by The Strokes. It all started coming together after that. We've been a touring band since then and we're about to release our third album.
Success is a subjective thing. It was a success to get a record deal, it was a success to make an album in a big studio, it was a success to tour with bands we loved and to tour in a bus, it was a success to get an album in stores. Sometimes I feel like a failure, that I'm not doing enough for my band or that I've taken the wrong path. Sometimes I feel like I succeeded and I sleep well at night. It goes up and down and all depends on what's happening at a certain time in my life. Looking back, I see how lucky and successful we've been as a band given this very competitive and undefined business I'm in.
When did you first start playing music?
I started playing piano and guitar in sixth grade and studio for a few years. But I was always excited to try to figure out the chords to songs I heard on the radio or songs I listened to constantly at home.
Have you been in any other bands?
Rooney is my first band. We started in High School and the whole starting a band thing was unexpected. I wasn't planning on being in a band as a profession, but it all just started building and I found myself deep in the music business.
When did you realize you wanted to play music for a living?
I think I'm just realizing it now. I've been working on many projects while we've been off cycle and I'm finding a new love for those processes. I love creating something from nothing, so it doesn't matter what it is, I just like the feeling.
Tell us a bit about your new album "Eureka". What can we expect?
I'm really proud of the album. We made it on our own, no label, no producer, no engineer. Just the five of us throwing ideas on the table. We had a bunch of songs to choose from and I feel we picked the best ones. The album has different sides to it, different kinds of songs, vibes, rhythmic grooves. It's upbeat and exciting and also has some heartfelt and moody songs. It's consistent from top to bottom and it sounds like Rooney. We've matured over the years and we've taken chances on our approach to the making and release of Eureka. I hope it's the first of many to come.
What did you do differently this time around with the new album? It's self produced - has this helped allow you to make the album the band wanted to make?
Yes, we felt a lot of pressure making the last album, Calling The World. We made it three times, so we have two albums that never saw the light of day. It was hard to part with those songs, but I think we ended up making a better album. I didn't want to be put under the gun like that ever again. I wanted to do it my way and not to have outside pressure and expectations weighing on my back. We're in a new and exciting time in our career and this album represents that for us.
It's been 3 years since you released your last full length album, you've had a member depart, a member become a father - has that changed the way you've been planning for this release?
A lot has changed since we started and a lot will change moving forward. Losing Matt was a bummer, but it's best for him and it's probably best for us. The four remaining members are very motivated and happy to making music in Rooney. We believe in what we do and want to continue to grow. Ned is now a Father and it's something we all knew was coming. He's all about Rooney, the cheerleader in the band. He doesn't want to slow us down and is gonna do the best he can to manage his time away from home. Everyone wants to work hard to promote the album, so I think it's affecting our release plans. We've been doing this for almost eleven years, so we're used to it.
You have a US tour this summer and I know you've mentioned overseas (I assume - Europe and the UK), can Australia hope to be added to your touring schedule soon?
We've never toured in Australia. Don't ask me why; I'm not happy about it. The label in Australia never did anything to promote us there, so we're kind of stuck. It's also pricey to tour there; it's pricey to tour anywhere. We're either need a huge following there or a label that believes in what we do and wants to work our music. I hope we'll make it there one day!
And just a quick questionnaire:
Song of the moment? Tears in the Morning by The Beach Boys
Rooney song? I Can't Get Enough
Rooney album? Eureka!
Most played song on your iTunes/music player? Love You Inside Out by The Bee Gees
Place to eat? Osteria Mamma...and PF Changs (weird, I know, but I like it)
Rooney are about to head off on a big North American tour in June and July and will be touring with Hanson (yep) in August across North America. You can buy pre-sale tickets here and pre-order their new album "Eureka" from here.
Follow Rooney on twitter - and follow Robert on twitter
Follow Rooney on twitter - and follow Robert on twitter
You can also help spread the word by joining their street team (click on the below image). Since they're doing it themselves this time I felt it was necessary to share this link.
I strongly suggest you check them out and keep an eye out for their new album. I have listened to Rooney for about 7 years and their music has always made me smile - it reminds me of summertime. Their music is infectious, fun and happy and you'll feel better knowing that you have it to go back to whenever you feel blue.
I wish there were more Australian fans that I knew of out there so that we could band together and show their local record label that this is one band to care about. They are a powerhouse live (I was lucky to have seen them 3 times while I lived in London back in '07) and a bunch of really nice guys.
"She's a dreamer, That was too real to ever be fake.
That was too strong to ever be forgotten, That girl has love"
I'd like to thank Robert for taking the time to answer my questions and I hope I've introduced some of you to a new favourite band.
Glitter Sparks & Happyness
x x x
P.S - I thought I'd start a regular feature here - Music Mondays. This will be my day to bring to your attention bands/artist whom I love and adore and try to help highlight some new music to you. Let me know what you think (they won't always be interviews but I thought this one was a perfect start).