You may know him as the guitarist and vocalist from power pop / rock band Rooney, but Taylor Locke has also just released “Grain and Grape”; a solo project featuring his own backing band, The Roughs. The Rock and Roll Report recently had the opportunity to ask Taylor a few questions:
Q: Most people have their hands full being in just one band, but you manage to succeed being in two! What is it like to live this “double-life” as a musician?
A: It’s quite fun and interesting to live this double-life, as you say. My roles in each band are quite different from one another. Also, one group has lots of history and a loyal following, while the other is just beginning on a grass roots level. As far as making time, I just look at the calendar and fill in the holes.I’m very motivated to produce Roughs content [and] it’s easy to make time for something I’m so passionate about. It really doesn’t feel like work at all! With the Roughs, it’s all brand new territory. We do everything ourselves. The band operates out of my dining room essentially, and my garage, and Ned’s garage. I love the homemade, hands-on nature of this project and plan to keep truckin’ along doing it.
Q: How did you come to join Rooney, and what was the motivation for striking out on your own and forming The Roughs?
A: Rooney formed when I was in 10th grade. I had played in some bands and even done gigs around town. Robert had a handful of tunes and seemed to be a very dedicated songwriter [and] he and I started jamming in my parents’ garage. Louie and I went to school together since 7th grade. He’s a great musician and we had similar influences, so it was quite natural for him to join the band. Ned was new to L.A., and older than us, [and] he had a lot of enthusiasm and personality. We liked him right away. Matt, who’s no longer in the band, went to high-school with Robert, so Robert asked him to join.
I formed the Roughs because I felt that Chris Price and I had written some really good songs. It’s that simple. The catalogue of material was too special for me not to do something with [it]. I hadn’t envisioned myself as a lead singer, or frontman at any other point in my musical life, until these songs were written. I was always content to be a lead guitar player and background singer, but after these songs came to life; I had a burning desire to make a record with my voice and my name. Luckily, Chris totally embraced the concept and we went to work. When we went to mix the record, we were so excited about it that we decided to form a proper group and book some gigs.
Q: I think “Grain and Grape” is fantastic and has a little something for everyone – some Beatles, some Jellyfish, some Queen, some Tom Petty – what were your musical influences growing up, and how did they impact your songwriting?
A: Those are great artists that you’ve mentioned and definitely huge influences for us. We love the ‘60s Brit bands, and all the power-pop of the ‘70s. We have eclectic tastes, but the music we really draw from for this project is stuff like Badfinger, The Raspberries, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Wings, The Who, etc. The list goes on and on. It’s a blend of various rock n’ roll from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Q: Tell us more about the players in the band – what brought the four of you together?
A: Well, as I mentioned, Chris and I had written a whole bunch of tunes together. We met through L.A. musicians and producers, Bleu and John Fields, [and] we kept getting together to write songs and they were really satisfying sessions. The songs were coming easy and quick, and we were impressed by what we could come up with. Mikey was my first choice for a drummer. I’ve known him since he came to L.A. in 2000 with his old band the Waking Hours. When that band dissolved, I introduced him to my friend Carrick, who is a great singer-songwriter-guitarist. Together they formed everybody else.
Mikey lives down the street from me and he is a very natural musician. He hears the songs and immediately finds grooves that make them feel really solid and substantial. He brings a lot of authority to the sound with his playing. Also, he sings, which is a must for me. Musicians who don’t do background vocals are useless! Charlotte I’ve known since her former band The Like formed. I went to high school with Z, the singer. I used to hang around The Like’s band practices and jam with them. I even did a gig with them once. She’s also very natural and talented. She has great taste and is a fun person to be in a band with. She is enthusiastic and brings lots to the table. A real asset for us! Once again, she was my first choice bass player. Chris and I did not have to look very far to get an awesome rhythm section. We got lucky.
Q: Do you have a favorite song on this record? And which one was the toughest to write?
A: I can’t choose a favorite because I’m intimately involved with the writing and recording of all of them. I enjoy that there is enough diversity to choose from based on how I’m feeling at the moment. I don’t tend to listen to my own work a whole lot after its been completed, but sometimes I’ll just throw on “Joy” ‘cause it’s so sparkly and nice sounding, or “I’ll Be Gone” ‘cause it’s so groovy. The toughest song to write by far was “What Have I Done” [because] I was very sad about the end of a relationship.
Q: Anything you can tell us about the new Rooney CD coming out later this year?
A: It’s eclectic and cool, and we self-produced it. I’m proud of my contributions and my bandmates’ contributions. We did it at Robert’s home studio, and some at me and Ned’s studio as well. I played lots of slide guitar, which was fun for me. It’s the same good-time Rooney you’re used to, but with a few new twists. Some psychedelia, some jazzy bits, etc. Check it the fuck out!
Q: Do you think you will continue to write and perform with The Roughs, and maybe put out a second album somewhere down the road?
A: Plenty of time when I’m not on the road. Second record in the works [and] will be coming at you much sooner than you’d expect!