Californians rejoice: Rooney is back at it again with a new lineup, new sound, and a brand new album, Washed Away. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Schwartzman and co. brought the sunny West Coast vibes all the way to our HQ in Brooklyn for an acoustic featuring some cuts from the new album. It's been six long years since the band's last record, but it's clear they haven't lost any of that signature British-meets-LA-rock sound that they became known for. Some highlights from this session include "Why," which features some bouncy post-punk perfect for driving along the Santa Monica coast with the top down, and the infectiously anthemic "My Heart Beats 4 U," which even throws in a Barry Manilow reference for you tender-hearted music lovers out there. Schwartzman also sat down with us and talked about the new album, what it was like to self-produce the record, and his love for all things LA. With such a bright and upbeat sound like Rooney's, you're bound to have a good time; we certainly did and hope you will too.
Baeble music and we're here with Robert from Rooney, who just played some great songs off your new album. which you're holding right there. - Oh, the new album. - Can I have you hold it up and spoil it already? - Oh, that's crazy. I have it right here. - This is called a CD. No, it's true. It's been 6 years since the last Rooney album. I'm just excited to have a new album out and I want to say, "Keep rocking," but that sounds so stupid. Baby, were you ever happy? Is it just lately you seem like You just hate me? And last night, I keep on thinking 'bout last night. It felt like we were over. You brush me off your shoulder. No, I don't wanna lose you. If I stay, I'll lose you. Any way it goes, it all goes bad. Don't hold it all against me. Baby, I'm so sorry. And I don't, I don't know why. I wanna throw it all away. Sabotage and say goodbye. Bye. I wanna cry, I'm not with you But my heart is running drive. I don't know why. I don't know. I don't know why. Why? Why? Why? Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Baby, why you wanna do this? I don't wanna keep on, Keep on going nowhere. It's not you, it doesn't seem like you. Maybe we're the wrong match Maybe it's just time and Why? Why you wanna stay here, If there's no more love here? You know it's not the last time. You say you need changing, But are you rearranging your broken heart? I wanna throw it all away, Sabotage and say goodbye. Bye. I wanna cry, I'm not with you, But my heart is running drive. I don't know why. I don't know, I don't know why. Why? Why? Why? Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh What you see is what you get What you see is what you get, baby No, I don't wanna lose you. If I stay, I'll lose you. Any way it goes, it all goes bad. Don't hold it all against me. Baby, I'm so sorry. And I don't, I don't know why. I wanna throw it all away, Sabotage and say goodbye. Bye. I wanna cry, I'm not with you But my heart is running drive. I don't know why. I don't know. I don't know why. Why? Why? Why? And I could stay and say I do I don't even wanna try, try. And I could tell you what you want, You want to hear, But I don't want to lie. I don't know why. I don't know. I don't know why. Why? Why? Why? - How important is visual aesthetic to you? Because you have a very California thing going on. Like, you have the tellies, and the palm trees, and the pastel colors. Like, it's very retro. - I think it's good to be consistent and, you know, it all should be personal. It should all be authentic and a genuine experience. That's my guitar and that's my car. . And that's a palm tree from Los Angeles, and that's the old Rooney logo, so this ties all the pieces together. Rooney is a very personal, you know, project for me. I started it when I was 17. I was in high school and I grew up in L. A. And to me, the important thing was the identity of the project, and having a certain message or shape to the project, a visual you could connect with. And I think Los Angeles and California just is that for me. It pretty much is the root of this project. So I try to make sure that every album has a little piece of that. We preserve that identity with the artwork, and the videos, and stuff like that. It comes around But never goes around Pull the trigger But it doesn't make a sound So strange how they never change Over the headlights and underage It's always something It's always nothing Always try to find a way To get in the way They tell us that we don't know right from wrong When they never ever heard us sing our song But they don't know how the chorus goes All they know is Barry Manilow It's always something It's always nothing Sometimes you gotta just get up and run away We burn a little brighter We fly a little higher We move a little faster We're closer to disaster My heart, my heart beats for you They hijacked our happy honeymoon Played along till we sounded out of tune They can't believe what they see They can't see what they can't believe This pitter-patter, it don't matter Sometimes you gotta throw your hands up in the air We burn a little brighter We fly a little higher We move a little faster We're closer to disaster My heart, my heart beats for you We sing a little louder We dance a little longer We feel a little younger We love a little stronger My heart, my heart beats for you Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh Someday I'll find a way to be with you, to be with you Someday I'll find a way to be with you, to be with you someday We burn a little brighter We fly a little higher We move a little faster We're closer to disaster My heart, my heart beats for you We sing a little louder We dance a little longer We feel a little younger We love a little stronger My heart, my heart beats for you Woah, oh, woah, oh Woah, oh, woah, oh - Did you self-produce this album? - I did. Yeah, I produced it. - How was that? - It was cool. I'm pretty hands-on with the songs that I write. And for me, I need to be able to touch it and mess around with it. It's like molding. I need to be able to be hands-on with it. Self-producing is really interesting, because you have to be your own editor. You have to be your own, sort of, critic. And you have to know what songs are going to work, and what works together and that's what makes an album an album. And I care about an album. Like, I don't want to put a song out. I want to put an album out. And I want those songs to flow. I want there to be a great sequence. I'm going to master that record ten times until it sounds like, really really solid. - Because it's your baby. - It is. It's my baby. - It's your project. - You gotta dress it. Yeah. No, it's true. Yeah, it is. I mean an album is a very, you know...it's an emotional experience. And it is for the listener, too. So, if it's hitting me, hopefully it hits other people. She doesn't have the answer yet, the answer yet I'm breathing down her neck. Maybe I should give her time. If it were up to me, she would know that She'll be the one who, when I'm dead, will use my bed. And she'll spend her life thinking of us and making a fuss. If it were up to me, she would know that Our love, our love is the best love, best love if it were up to me. 'Cause our love, our love is real love, so just let it be. I want you to know I've done our charts and it says that we work as one. Like the Jackson Five and The Temptations. If it were up to me, she would know that Our love, our love, is the best love, best love if it were up to me. 'Cause our love, our love is real love, so just let it be Well, your mother likes my smile and your father likes my lifestyle. Should I ask them what I asked you to get the answer? Just to get the answer. It's easy. Easy. It's easy. Easy. It's easy. Easy. It's easy, oh. Your mother likes my smile and your father likes my lifestyle. Should I ask them what I asked you To get the answer? Just to get the answer. 'Cause our love, our love is the best love Best love If it were up to me. Yes, our love, our love is real love, so just let it be. It's easy. Easy. It's easy. Easy. Oh, it's easy. - Well, thanks so much for coming by today. - Thanks for having me. And thanks for having everybody here, yeah. Hi, this is Robert from Rooney and you're watching Baeble music.
You can go ahead and call Rooney's new album, Eureka, their declaration of independence. After several years trudging under the weight of a major label deal that never quite fit them right, the Los Angeles band is making a bold, fresh start: Rooney recorded and produced Eureka themselves, and will be releasing the disc June 8th on their own new label, California Dreamin' Records through Warner Music Group's Independent Label Group. The 12-track Eureka is their most mature, nuanced collection yet, and still retains their classic buoyancy and catchiness.
Eleven years after they started the band as teenaged friends with a shared love of the Beatles, Cheap Trick and ELO, lead singer and guitarist Robert Schwartzman, keyboard player / vocalist Louie Stephens, guitarist / vocalist Taylor Locke, and drummer / vocalist Ned Brower have grown into a modern power-pop band in a class of their own. Over the years, they've toured with everyone from Weezer and The Strokes, winning new fans among all those audiences. "I don't think there are any modern bands that we have much in common with," says Locke.
Though Eureka is, in many ways, a rebirth for Rooney, the independent spirit behind it is nothing new for the band, which began in 1999, when its members were still in high school. During their early years, the band self-produced and promoted a series of EPs and built themselves a massive hometown fan base by gigging as often as they could in local LA clubs. Their self-titled debut album, released in May 2003, maintained a solid presence on Billboard's New Artists chart for several months, and then shot up in 2004 following a performance on teen dramedy The O.C., known for its taste-making assortment of music from critically acclaimed new bands who had yet to make it mainstream. Slowly and steadily over the course of two years, Rooney's debut disc amassed sales of nearly 500,000 copies.
They began making their second album in 2004, and in the three years that followed, they recorded three album's worth of material before finally releasing Calling The World in 2007. The problem, the band explains, was the ongoing pressure from their label, Geffen/Interscope, to come up with a hit song. Producers shuttled in and out, songs were recorded then trashed, and Rooney's members say they became increasingly discouraged. The long lag between albums may not have hurt their sales Calling The World debuted #42 on The Billboard Top 100 Albums chart and lead single "Where Did Your Heart Go Missing" went to #1 in Germany and in the Top 10 in Italy, France, Ireland and The Netherlands - but it definitely took a toll on their morale.
"The whole culture of major labels is to just keep fucking with shit instead of getting something from an artist that's their vision and supporting it and putting it out and promoting it, the old fashioned way," says Locke. "We've heard our story from other bands a million times, where you've got the label telling you remix, re-record, try a different producer, try an outside songwriter, do it here, we're pushing it back to spring, back to summer, fall -- it's never-ending."
"The pressure of always having to think about what's going to be 'the hit,'" says Schwartzman, "and all those ideas were interfering with the process of trying to make music that felt really good and felt like it was coming from a good, true place." Finally, last spring, Rooney parted ways with the label.
The guys started recording Eureka in April of 2009, in a new studio Schwartzman built into his Los Angeles home. "I think the biggest thing I learned working with all the different producers is that you don't need to be in a big fancy studio spending $2,000 a day to make a record that sounds great," says Schwartzman,. "We whittled down the list of things you need to make a record and it became a much more realistic list of things to purchase and use." The process of writing and tracking new material happened more organically than ever before, and though Rooney were excited to be making their first album on their own, they didn't want to rush it. "We didn't record every day of the week, and we didn't record months consistently," says Schwartzman. "We wrote for awhile and then we stopped and then there was more writing, and some more songs were written and recorded once we'd done the original batch of songs."
Yet they didn't want to become complacent, in the absence of outside scrutiny. "We did try to A&R ourselves through the process -- to question the songs, the flow of the recordings, and to ask ourselves, 'Can we beat this, can we beat that?'" the singer notes. "We didn't want to just settle for the songs we had. The thing I was most afraid of going into it wasn't 'Can we make good-sounding music?' It was, "Can we pull out of ourselves what we need to pull out to make great music?' I think if you get too hung up on gear and everything, it's still not really about the songs and the emotion and everything that's happening. I was happy that we were actually able to say to ourselves, 'I don't think we have a first single,' as much as that was so annoying to hear all those years.'"
"Part of the fun was just indulging our influences," says Stephens. "One of the reasons I'm happy with the record is that I think we were able to do that in a lot of different, varied ways. "Holding On" has kind of a [Tom] Petty vibe to the arrangement, and "Only Friend" and "Into the Blue" have more of a psychedelic thing that we hadn't fully done before. 'The Hunch" is kind of a balls-out rock song, and "I Can't Get Enough" has got a little bit of a rhythmic thing."
Schwartzman admits he had Petty in mind when he was writing the song. "I was watching Running Down a Dream, the Tom Petty documentary, and it was really inspiring," he says. "I didn't realize how much of Tom Petty's influences came from a lot of the stuff I really love, which is Fifties and early Sixties pop stuff, just great old songs that are simple and really straightforward. I really like that, and I love the simplicity in the storytelling and the lyric-writing. Afterward, I just wanted to sit down and write, and 'Holding On' and 'You're What I'm Looking For' came out of that."
Petty's inspiration served him well: "Holding On," the track that opens Eureka, is not only a classic Rooney-style sing-along, it's also the song that articulates, most directly, how the band has come to view its past, present and future. A first-person narrative, the song tells "the story of how we met, how this band started," describing how he moved to New York for college but soon came home just to continue with Rooney. "And the pre-chorus talks about being wined and dined by all the managers and the lawyers and the agents," he continues. "And the lyric goes, 'It's just another meal, I'm fat with regret, placing my bet on me.' The music industry is such a dirty little world, and we've heard our story from bands a million times, but the song about holding on when you're on the edge of something is a wake-up call for us, about entering a new place, a new phase of our career, and breaking away."