After losing bassist, Rooney looks for new dynamic
By Brian Washburn
It is a wonder Rooney are even still a band. After hitting it big off their debut album in 2003 (whose major hits “Blueside” and “I’m Shakin’” landed them on major television shows and radio success), the band suffered label troubles, were forced to re-record their sophomore album three times before the label finally released it, which proved to be a bit of a letdown compared to the debut self-titled release. Though many bands would have closed up shop after such problems, Rooney have kept going strong and are releasing a new album this summer on their own terms.
The band – vocalist/guitarist Robert Schwartzman, guitarist/vocalist Taylor Locke, drummer Ned Brower and keyboardist Louie Stephens – have spent more than a decade in the music industry and know the ups and downs quite well. Though a major label contract helped boost the band to almost arena stardom, it also proved to be the bands downfall.
“[Being on a major label] definitely helped us at the beginning, but it crippled us later. It ran its course for us and we needed to move on,” Locke said in a phone interview last week.
What the band has moved on to is their own imprint label that will be releasing the bands forthcoming album – Eureka – this summer, which the band wrote, recorded and produced on their own. With Rooney running the show, the band found themselves a new level of freedom aesthetically to go the psychedelic and unusual places they were never allowed to go with their music while still maintaining the same pop-rock sensibilities that put Rooney on the map in the first place.
However, it has definitely not been easy for the band to make these transitions. After 11 years of playing together, the band found it harder than expect to stay together during this label-led turmoil.
“It was incredibly hard to stay a band. We are lucky and glad we did, and made a stronger tale of survival,” Locke said. “The more labels interfere, the worse it gets and makes people miserable. We are very glad to be outside the system.”
Though not every member survived this “nightmare” Locke described. After playing with the band throughout its existence, original bassist Matt Winter has decided to leave the band. While this did not impact the recording of the band’s third full-length studio album, it will definitely affect their plans to tour this spring and summer, and when the band stops through the University of Arkansas campus April 26 for free at the Greek Theatre.
“We’re considering playing these college shows with Robert on bass and test driving this quartet operation,” Locke said. “I think this will be awesoe, but we’re not sure yet. We rehearsed and polish and going to give an exciting live show. It’s just a brand new scene for us. We’re not sure if this is for the long haul when we hit the road this summer, but for these shows Robert is going to be on bass and I’m the only guitar player.”
Rooney is looking to hit the nation with a new look, new dynamic, but with the same catchy, hook-laden pop sound Rooney fans are used to.
“This is a rebirth, Rooney chapter two. It’s our 11th year as a band. It’s kind of a new approach – self-releasing, self-financing new the new record. It’s different but still the same,” Locke said.