Guys Gone Wild

Posted November 25, 2009 in Music

Whatever happened to Rooney? When the five-piece debuted their eponymous album in 2003, the pretty-boy set was everywhere, trumpeting out ditties like “I’m Shakin‘” with fresh, pop sensibilities that evoked images of sunshine, Hollywood, endless blue skies and freeways. They showed up on soundtracks, guested on TV, lived the rock ’n‘ roll lifestyle. When their latest release, Calling the World, came out in 2007, Rooney had more of the same—keyboard-driven pop songs that stuck to your head, and seemed touched by an innocent hand of bubblegum and fun.


But in the Age of the Internet, two years could just as easily be 20, and it’s a long time to be out of the spotlight. Fans are fickle—they grow up, start listening to Kings of Leon, start smoking pot. Where has Rooney been, and more importantly, what are they doing now? Over the phone, drummer Ned Brower takes a deep breath and starts explaining.


“We’ve really been on the road for the last couple of years—after Calling the World we went to Europe, Japan and toured America numerous times, so we’re really been home just a little over a year.” The band finished touring in 2008, and settled back in Los Angeles to write new music. They built a recording studio, left Geffen and got down to work.


The result? A limited-release 4-song EP, Wild One, coming out on this tour, and a 12-song set that’s due to be released in spring 2010. Why two releases so close to each other? After leaving their label, Brower says Rooney was in a position to churn out more music, faster. “All of a sudden we had a lot of material and flexibility with what we wanted to do,” he says.


The 4-song EP is slowly being released in chunks on the band’s site: a verse and chorus will be available every week to give fans a taste of what’s new. So far, “Suckceed,” one of their new songs, already seems a little more, well, jaded—and could even be an ode from the band to the music industry. The lyrics: “What happened to the promises you made?/You didn’t keep them you’re a jack of all trades/You’re spread thin and someone’s gotta suffer/You wanna be my best friend/Well it depends on what you make and what you spend/Send me off, I’d rather you send me away.”


Except that Brower says there was no great story to Rooney getting out of their record deal with Geffen. “We worked together for seven years, and we were ready to go, so they let us go.” He adds, “It was a blessing for us; we got to step up with our productivity, which people will start to notice.”


Other major record labels have shown interest in Rooney’s new work, but Brower says they’re also interested in staying indie. After all, Rooney’s been a band for more than a decade, and did everything themselves prior to getting signed.


“We always had a good handle on the web stuff early on, and we always designed our own art and merchandise,” Brower explains. Being on a major label “was a great opportunity to expose our music to a lot more people and have the opportunity to travel,” he adds. But as major record labels fail to adapt to the new methods of promotion, being independent “with the benefits we already received from the major” seemed better for the band, Brower says.


Wild One still holds a lot of what made Rooney famous: pop songs that are rooted in classic rock. Because they’ve been a band for a long time, Brower says Rooney developed really well as a live act. The new songs are “performance-oriented and have a live sound.”


The new releases also features more songwriters in the mix. Singer/songwriter Robert Schwartzman, who wrote all the songs on previous albums, still works as the central musical leader, but other members—Taylor Locke (guitar/vocals), Louie Stephens (keyboard/vocals) and Matt Winter (bass) all wrote tracks for the upcoming releases. It’s a new development, Brower says. “At the end of the day we all make decisions as a five-man unit. That’s how we work.”

Rooney w/Tally Hall, The Crash Kings performs Sat, Nov. 28, at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802;, Doors 7PM. $16.


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