Rooney sheds ‘typical pop-rock band’ image

By on March 26, 2008

Sure, radio hits are great for a few weeks, until you want to bang your head against the nearest hard surface out of sheer annoyance and boredom. You’ve heard it too much, its fifteen minutes of fame are over. And that’s why Rooney believes they will have longevity – because they are everything the typical pop-rock band is not.

The five piece group who broke out into the music scene eight years ago includes Robert Schwartzman, Ned Brower, Louie Stephens, Taylor Locke and Matthew Winter, all from Los Angeles, California. Coming from the same place has had a significant impact on the style of Rooney’s music, as explained by Brower, who sings and plays drums for the band.

“Being a California band, especially when we started, everyone in rock was all about dark, smoky bar, nightlife thing, and I think we were more sunny, west coast, and pop-rock oriented,” Brower said.

Their unique style has gained a huge following in Europe, where their single “When Did Your Heart Go Missing” has been number one. However, the band has found it challenging to fit into a category on American radio. “If we ever get to where we’re on the radio, it will be a real hard-fought battle that we won because we’ve been trying for a long time,” Brower said. “The rock stations play that more fake, heavy sounding stuff, like Nickelback. Or there’s the pop stations that play R&B and rap music, which we don’t identify with at all, so you know, we’re kind of out there by ourselves.”

Rooney is not interested in changing their sound to accommodate the style of the radio, and hope that tastes will come around to include their distinctive sound.

Their struggle to have their songs played on mainstream radio has not kept Rooney from continuing to put their music out there for the world to hear. They are currently promoting their latest album “Calling The World” touring with the Jonas Brothers, which has greatly impacted Rooney’s growing fan base.

“It was probably the most excitable crowds we’ve ever played for and also probably the biggest crowds we’ve played for, at least consistently. So, it’s been great for us, we’re making a lot of new fans,” Brower said. “We’ve been playing together for eight years, sometimes you start to feel a little stagnant and this kind of tour is great because all the sudden you’re making forward progress again.”

While touring with the Jonas Brothers has been a positive experience for the band, Rooney would like to do their own tour in the near future.

“We’d get to play full sets, and it’s more fun for us,” Brower said. “When we’re doing a support tour it’s mainly just trying to find a band that might expose us to a new audience, and that’s kind of what we’re doing now.”

Despite their hectic lifestyles, the guys of Rooney make it a point to keep things interesting while on the road.

Brower recalled a story when fellow bandmate Winter put on an inappropriate pair of short shorts and walked out into a truck stop. “He enticed truckers who didn’t find him too funny,” Brower said. The band also has been following the presidential election coverage as best they can, and choosing their favorite candidates.

The band finds it important to keep in personal contact with their fans. Rooney’s Web site and MySpace include video diaries and blog entries, which the guys routinely update from the road.

“There’s so many choices in music nowadays, you have to do a little bit more than just get up and play, because it’s hard enough to get everyone’s attention – you have to work for it,” Brower said.

Rooney’s authenticity is what will keep them around for a long time to come. Their ever-growing fan base appreciates their efforts in making time to respond to questions and fan letters. Even after all the success and accomplishments, Rooney still strives for more.

“By the time you’ve reached the top, you’ve done what you set out to do,” Brower said. “It’s cool because we’ve had a very slow, uphill hike. We still feel like we’re trying to achieve something.”


About Alexandra Kozinski