You may have caught them on the road with the Jonas Brothers back in 2008 -- or even on a rerun of The O.C.! -- but now Rooney is back with their brand new CD, Eureka (out today, June 8!), and ready to take over the music world on their own terms. J-14 chatted with guitarist Taylor Locke about the album, their TV roots, and the JoBros.
J-14: Which song off Eureka is the most personal to you?
Rooney's Taylor Locke: There is a song called "The Hunch" that I co-wrote with Nat, our drummer, so it would be the most personal since he and I wrote it. There are personal things about all the songs because there are memories or anecdotes from recording them, whether it is a particular guitar chord or something that happened that day when we were working on it, so you can get attached to different things in the music whether it is big or small. Now we have this tour, and we start rehearsals this coming week. When we go play on the road, you'll find a particular moment, whether it's a guitar solo or vocal part, and it starts to become one of your favorite little highlight moments or something you look forward to in the show, and it gives a whole new importance or meaning for you. You discover these things on the road sometimes.
J-14: What's the story behind the new single, "I Can't Get Enough?"
Taylor: It was written by [singer] Robert [Schwartzman], so it's a second hand-answer, but it's a song that was born musically first, then lyrically after. We had a single on the last record called "When Did Your Heart Go Missing" that did quite well for us overseas. That song was based on a dance rhythm, a particular drum beat. It had the spirit of an '80s-era David Bowie track. The way that Robert likes to do those songs, his process, was to work on that in a groove or rhythm as opposed to sitting down with an acoustic guitar. Instead of doing a chord-sequence first, it was based on a drum loop... That is how that one came about - drum loop, guitar lick, then the chords, then an improvisational scat until something presented itself that sounded like a song.
J-14: How has the band changed since fans saw you on The O.C.?
Taylor: I don't want to minimize it, but it seems to be something that means a lot more to people looking in than to us when we did it. It wasn't a popular hit show yet - - we were the first band to be on it. We were in the middle of a tour and someone called and said, "There's a new show called The O.C. and the creator is a really big fan -- he wants to write a whole episode about you guys.'" At first we passed on it because we thought it'd be kind of cheesy to go on the show." We didn't even know what it was. But they said, "No, you have to understand, they want to make the whole episode about these characters going to a Rooney show." So we were in the middle of a tour and had the whole day off. We flew home. It was Halloween. We taped this episode, which was not unlike doing a music video. We basically just lip-synced to the song a bunch of times. We went to a Halloween party, then went back to the airport in the middle of the night still in costume, and we went back to our tour. I remember our drummer's brother Lucas was working for us at the time, and he was a Rastafarian for Halloween. Having one of those "Rasta" hats with the built in dreads and taking it off and putting it on the security belt at the airport is my memory of The O.C. You just asked me about it in 2010, and it will never die. Long live The O.C. I've never seen a single episode except the one we were on.
J-14: Did your ex-girlfriends, The Donna's Allison Robertson or Mischa Barton, influence any of your music?
Taylor: The first person you mentioned is a musician who has a very strong opinion and particular taste in music, so definitely with the years I was with her, it definitely influenced me. I learned a lot from her and our tastes definitely rubbed off on each other. It's impossible to get away from that. It was a long time so things just sort of seep it and shape who you are and what you are into.
J-14: What was it like to tour with the Jonas Brothers?
Taylor: In a sense it was no different than any other tour. It was one of those situations like The O.C. where we were at a point in the record-cycle where maybe we had done all we could it. That is always a very touchy thing to assess and make decision based on because a headlining tour and an opening tour are very different experiences and implications.
J-14: Did they ask you for any advice?
Taylor: Nick Jonas asked me how to shave. I said, "You should probably ask your dad." They are cute guys. I can't put myself in their shoes, to have that kind of success at that age and have it be a family-run business. But they are nice boys and well-adjusted, and they were very kind and respectful to us. We've done other tours like that, opening for artists -- it is definitely not very hard work to play those kind of shows. Everything is run so professionally and smoothly.
J-14: You've been in Rooney since the tenth grade - how do you stay motivated?
Taylor: Whatever modest level of popularity we've achieved and the connection that maybe there's a lot of kids out there who we mean something to is motivating and inspiring. Also, after ten or eleven years, it is a family-dynamic more than just a business, so we have each other and we have our audience -- to just cease to exist would disappoint because this is all we know at this point. We've gone from boys to men within this group and now it is kind of our job, our career. It'd be very daunting to do something else.
Photo: Photo: Courtesy of Big Hassle