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Interview: The Rooks Talk Shenanigans and Their New EP

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Garth and Nate talk about their new sound and why they would want to open for Beyonce.

Interview: The Rooks Talk Shenanigans and Their New EP

A few weeks ago, we had Garth Taylor and Nate Mondschein from The Rooks visit the CHARGED.fm Studios for a CHARGED.fm LIVE session and photo shoot. Before they played some music for everyone in the office, I had the chance to talk to them about their new EP, pre-show routines, and general shenanigans. On a side note, I would definitely want Garth and Nate in my corner during an elevator fight just based on their confidence during this part of our conversation.

You guys have a couple of live shows coming up soon. Where and when are those and what do you guys like to do beforehand to get ready?

Nate - Well we have a couple of college shows coming up, but the big show is going to be at Mercury Lounge on Saturday, September 27. I believe we’re on at 9:00 PM. We’re playing with a really cool band called Paper Dolls. And it will be our single release show.

And before a show? Hmm, well it depends on the show. At our most recent show, we were all very sleepy, so there was a round of jumping jacks. And one member (who will not be named) felt the need to twerk on a chair around the room.

Garth - Why you gotta tell them my business like that?

Nate - I never named you! That’s totally on you.

Garth - Yeah, I mean sometimes you’ve got to just get some endorphins going through your body if you’re feeling if you’re feeling low energy. But generally, we’ll all just speak about the set list or changes we want to do, anything we want to bring in. Then we have kind of a Mighty Ducks huddle up.

Nate - We’ll do the “Quack! Quack! Quack! Go Ducks!” but usually people will say different things, like “Go Rooks!”

Garth - Just a bunch of shenanigans, really.

Nate - That’s what happens when you know people for what, seven years? You all just start messing around.

Garth - It’s all about getting in the right head space before a show, so you have to do fun things. We’ll even have key words that we’ll say on stage if someone is a little off.

Nate - Safe words.

Garth - Yes! Safe words on stage for these moments.

Nate - And off stage!

Garth - It’s mostly to just keep everyone on the same page.

You guys have your second EP coming very soon. What was the creative process like here compared to the first EP?

Nate - Much longer, which was really great. We took our time. One of our goals was rather than just writing enough songs for an EP was to write a large batch of songs, be able to get them all down and then sort of go through and pick out which ones we want. We wrote, man, probably like 15 songs and chose to record 11 of them for a demo day in the studio. We’re working at this studio called Engine Room and got this great deal where we could be in there and use the space a lot. So we tracked 11 songs in one day.

And then from there, we listened through, got some outside input, and worked with our producer Mark Christiansen, and ended up coming up with 6 songs. We were originally going to do 5, but it came down to the last two songs. Half the group felt really strongly about one song, half the group felt really strongly the other way. We ended up going with both. I think it’s going to pay off. From there, it was a lot more pre-production, a lot more editing, way more editing than we’ve ever done.

Garth - Attention to detail.

Nate - Yeah. Just trying to step our game up a little.

So what can we expect from you guys sonically on this new EP compared to the first one, are there an noticeable changes that you guys tried to incorporate?

Garth - Yeah. I think if anyone’s listening that’s new to The Rooks and has our first EP but hasn’t seen us live, and then listens to this, it would be jarring. It’s like BAM. I think the sound is edgier, I think it’s fuller, a broader range of sounds, and I think the songs are just better. They are more finely tuned, I think, and I think there is just more raw energy and presence that will be noticeable in these recordings versus the first.

Nate - One of the things I think we came from is playing live music all the time together, and we’ve always felt pretty comfortable bringing energy and momentum to a live performance. In a recorded performance, like on our first EP, I think we were able to capture a lot of the soul influences, the feel-good stuff, but it’s harder to capture some of the grit and the heavier hitting stuff, and make it feel organic still, and that’s something we’ve worked a lot towards: bringing energy and grit to a recorded performance and not just have it sound like a “capturing” of a live performance.

What do you guys have on deck for the rest of 2014 to finish out the year? Even maybe some stuff you can’t share. But we want some ‘sclusy’s here.

Garth - Well, I’ve never heard that before and it sounds way dirtier than it is. Some things we can share, though, I know that we’re doing a couple of CMJ shows. We can share this thing, can we? Or no?

Nate - We’ve got a lot of shows coming up, especially the big Mercury show, so we’re holding off announcing other things, but we will be playing more in the city. We will be playing more out of the city. We’ll be playing in places like Boston, up and down the East Coast a little bit. There will be more singles. There will be multiple videos.

Does the EP have a release date yet or is that still under wraps?

Nate - It will be announced soon, but it will be October. We can say that, right? What else we got?

Garth - We will be around in December, I think we are planning another big show, and then we will be making an announcement in December.

Nate - We like maintaining an air of mystery.

Garth - Leaving cliffhangers out there. We won’t be doing nothing!

Finally, if you guys could tour with any group out there now, who would it be?

Garth - Beyonce! But she has no need for me though.

Nate - You have to think about it: if we tour with Beyonce, nobody shows up until Beyonce.

Just make Beyonce open for you!

Garth - Oh no. Don’t take it that far.

Nate - In my wildest dreams, I am opening for Beyonce. But a band that would be great to tour with would be Unbuttoned, this great band out of Toronto. I would live to tour with Hiatus Coyote. They are out of Melbourne Australia. Hands down for me the greatest live show I’ve ever seen. I saw them at le Poisson Rouge almost a year ago. So humble and chill about it, they seem like awesome people. I’d love to chill with them.

Erykah Badu, I mean for me.

Garth - I actually think it would be fun to tour with Solange. I mean the two of us together could totally just fight whoever was in the elevator, I think she needs a team behind her. I could support her. But her show is cool.

Nate - It would be fun to go with The Roots, too, just to get people confused. They think that something’s misprinted. "This isn't The Roots! It's The Rooks!"

The Rooks play The Mercury Lounge tomorrow night and, like they said, will likely have several more concerts in the near future. For more info on tomorrow's show, head here. The group also premiered a new song today called "Secrets" at Okayplayer. Be on the lookout for more from this group, including our CHARGED.fm LIVE session with the band!

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find tickets for less and NO FEES!

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