Remember the delightful power pop of Rooney? Oh, wait, they’re actually still around. Some may find it sad to exist in a time when musical attention spans rarely last for more than a song and fans have little interest in the legacies of a five-piece rock outfit beyond said song, however, it does tend to give individual personalities the opportunity to explore sounds that transgress that sacred legacy they are attached to. Such seems to be the case for Rooney’s Taylor Locke, who is currently exploring an edgier, retroier brand of rocking in Taylor Locke & the Roughs, which has him sliding from the position of lead guitarist (in Rooney) to front and center of a grimy Rock dive nearly every night. This past October the band released their sophomore LP, Marathon, and this Saturday, 9/17, they will find themselves gracing the stage of the North Star Bar, supporting Sloan. I recently chatted with Taylor about this very project and just why you should make it out to Fairmount this weekend.
Izzy Cihak: This band has been characterized as a “side project,” since Rooney is still together. The phrase generally has a negative connotation, but some have proven to be pretty fucking awesome. Do you have any personal favorite “side projects” of music history?
Taylor Locke: It’s a drag that it has a negative connotation, but I can understand why. It implies that the side-project is less serious or focused. I’ve pretty much stopped using that term for the Roughs. We’ve been getting ourselves busier and busier, whereas Rooney has been taking it slow for a little bit. I think it is in response to the changing tides of the way music is distributed and consumed, that bands would splinter into more varied projects. It seems that most musicians dream of having a diverse set of outlets, but in the past it may have seemed daunting, due to the infrastructure and/or climate of the music scene. Today, it feels really natural to have a few things going on. I can say that almost 100% of the musicians I know have more than one serious outlet. Favorite side-projects in history? hmmmmm….I love XTC’s alter-ego band “Dukes of Stratosphere.” An established group has its parameters, and each member’s role in that group has its parameters. Most of us tend to get a different form of satisfaction out of our multiple projects.
IC: How would you describe your new band for fans of Rooney who might not be familiar with this material yet, but are at least curious?
TL: Curious but not familiar, eh? What’s stopping you? It costs $9 or less to get familiar–get in there! I’d rather let you form your own descriptive thoughts. I personally draw on the same influences no matter what I’m playing, because that is my musical makeup. It’s hard for me to be objective on this question. I think The Roughs have a different lyrical perspective, and we are very guitar-oriented. If you are a fan of the melodicism of Rooney, I think you’ll also find that satisfaction in my Roughs albums. Also, if you are looking for something harder-edged or slightly darker, you’ll be pleased to find that a few of The Roughs songs go in that direction, as well. The comparison is very difficult for me to make and also not entirely appropriate for me to do so. I do my thing as Rooney’s guitarist, and I do my thing as The Roughs frontman/co-songwriter/co-producer. It’s a different bunch of guys, and a different bunch of songs. You decide!
IC: Since this publication is Philadelphia-based, I have to ask if you have any particular fond memories of the city.
TL: Yes, I’ve been through Philly dozens of times. I love Theater of The Living Arts (big stage, good sound, working shower), I love the Electric Factory (big ass room, GREAT backstage hang area with upright piano, and killer catering). The North Star Bar does not have those features, BUT it has a VIBE. I love the spirit of it. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2005, but I did get to enjoy both Pat’s and Gino’s before then. I still enjoy seeing my friends compare and contrast the two hugely popular cheesesteak establishments. I like the street that TLA is on….some good record stores, restaurants, bars, etc. Philly has cool architecture in some areas; it’s solid.
IC: Have you noticed patterns in the kinds of people who seem to be most attracted to your music?
TL: People with the most excellent taste in music!!!!! Just kidding-ish. I don’t know. We are not yet at the point where we have a fan stereotype. It will be interesting to see. That is a sign of some form of success, I suppose. If you can identify your quintessential fan, it must mean you’ve reached a good number of people. Right now, it is a cross-section of types, but that may be because we have a range of material. People may be responding to the ballads, the heavy stuff, or the in-between. Time will tell what kind of person really makes up the essence of our fanbase.
IC: Everyone always asks about musical influences, so I always have to ask: What are your biggest non-musical influences?
TL: Comedians, actors, dancers, public speakers….anyone who could be considered a SHOWMAN. Bruce Springsteen once said, “Every single little part of the show, is a part of the show.” That resonated with me, because when I see a performer, I watch the way they walk, talk, dress, enter the stage, exit the stage, hold their instrument, talk to the crowd, look at the crowd, look at their bandmates, and more. I love the theatrical side of rock n roll. Anyone who is up there under the lights, commanding the stage, and commanding the room will have influence on me, because that is what gets me excited. That means that people on contestant shows and reality shows do not hold my interest. I am not intrigued by the kid next door. I am intrigued by Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, Harry Houdini, Richard Prior, etc…..STARS.
IC: What should fans and potential fans expect of your show this Saturday at the North Star?
TL: If we have a good night, you will get to see just the right blend of polish and reckless abandon. Everyone in our group is a stellar musician, but we also like to cut loose and leave it rough around the edges. Your guess is as good as mine—come see for yourself!