Despite constant comparisons to the likes of Busted and Mcfly, Rooster are a band who actually have more in common with the mid 90s Britpop explosion than the bands that litter teen magazines. Brought up on a steady diet of classic rock ala The Rolling Stones and Cream through to the likes of Aerosmith and Guns'N'Roses they toured the London toilet circuit before being snapped up by Hugh Goldsmith of BMG Records. The debut single "Come Get Some" brought heavy riffs and tight beats reminiscent of Reef, while the follow up "Staring At The Sun" steals the opening riff from Oasis' "Champagne Supernova" and the bridge from indie band Haven.
Designer Magazine Editor Alex McCann caught up with Nick Atkinson (Vocals), Luke Potashnick (guitar), Ben Smyth (bass) and David Neale (Drums) aka Rooster prior to an instore performance at HMV Manchester to talk about the Year Of The Rooster. We also set them the Rooster Rock'n'Roll Challenge where they proved their knowledge of serial killers, Marianne Faithful moments and all the usual pop gubbins
Q: 2005 - everyone's saying it's the year of the Rooster.
Nick: It is the year of the Rooster, but I was born the year of the monkey so I don't know what that says for us. It it nice people are saying it's gonna be our year, but we're too busy to think about it. We just get on with it and let everyone else do the talking.
Luke: I don't know what I am.
Nick: You're probably a rat or something. A big hairy wildebeest.
Q: It must feel pretty good.You set it all up with "Come Get Some" at the end of last year when you literally came out of nowhere
Nick: That blew us away. We weren't really expecting it to go that high up the charts. We did V Festival before that, but had spent most of our time in London playing little rock gigs at places like the Water Rats in Kings Cross and the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. Then suddenly Simon Moran came to one of our gigs and asked us to play V Festival. It was like f**king great and from there we started to get a little bit of a buzz. Our label's pretty well connected so they managed to get our records out to the right people and we were on TOTP's a month before our first single got released. I think if we were honest though we never expected it to do that well
Q: Even so, you were still playing the toilet circuit at the same time you were on TOTP's and CD:UK. A strange position to be in I guess
David: It was good, but very very strange. We'd turn up to these venues in a massive tour bus and the venues could hold your dad and your mum and that's about it.
Nick: I think it was good though. We hadn't been out of London before we did Top Of The Pops so we felt we needed to get out there and do what we did in London, but everywhere else.
Luke: It was cool playing these small gigs to 200 people at the same time we had a song in the Top 10. I guess it was cool to be one of the fans there in such a small crowd. Even on this tour coming on the 18th there's a good few small venues with bigger ones in places like Manchester and London.
Q: It's paying your dues on the circuit even though you've been tagged with the likes of Busted and Mcfly
Nick: We're a live band so getting out in playing, whether it be in front of 200 people or 1200 people it's the same thing for us. Playing live music is what we're all about and we thought it was important for us that once we got out of London to just f**king start from the grassroots otherwise people don't take you seriously. We wouldn't want to just suddenly appear on a stage at Wembley having spending 2 months in a rehearsal room with a f**king mirror.
Luke: All the bands we look up to whether it's present or the Seventies they've done all this. Going out to places like the Roadhouse and seeing who's played there before is pretty cool. It's not our scene just to go straight to the theatres or to the big stage like Wembley.
Q: You guys grew up listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roses didn't you?
Nick: I started listening to music through my parents. I think everyone does that. My dad was into The Stones and Free so I was always listening to guitar music. My first concert I went to was The Stones when I was 10 and then I went onto Aerosmith and Guns N Roses. I think that comes through in our music - the big riff and the big singalong chorus
David: My mum was into really heavy music. The first gig I went to, I was 7 years old, was Kerbdog, The Wildhearts and The Almighty. My mum lent me her leather jacket - so I was like 7 years old in a leather jacket thinking I was pretty cool.
Q: So what's it like growing up listening to legends and then being pushed into this world of teen girl magazines and Saturday morning TV
Nick: Its tough. But we kinda look at it like we're trying to do everything.
Luke: We turned up and did a radio arena show a couple of months back and journalists were like what are you doing here? It was like, we've released one single and if we're gonna be asked to do it we can't really say no. Kids, whether it is Just 17 or otherwise, are more interested in rock music and our music can appeal as much to them as it can to old rockers
Nick: I think we're finding that in our audiences as well. We're finding a really interesting mix of people. From the 15 or 16 year olds who are obviously coming cos they've seen what they look like and (adopts girlie voice) think we're gorgeous or whatever. But watching them the heavier songs are the ones they like man. We're getting those people and then guys my age about 24/25 and people even older than that.
David: I think the even older people are there at the back for the young kids at the front. We don't encourage that. The old guys stroking their thighs cos they love the music that much (laugh)
Q: Talking about the age of your female fans, you've still probably got 2 years on the average member of an average rock crowd
David: You feel like a dad going to a Slipknot concert and it's weird them crowd surfing over you
Nick: Kids are getting into guitar music again as this year as shown. Look at all the popular guitar bands that have come out this year: Razorlight, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines
Q: It's not those bands most people are placing you with though. How do you feel about being placed alongside Busted, Mcfly and the pop guitar bands?
Nick: We get quite a lot of that, but I think people are starting to come round a little bit. As far as we're concerned we're not Busted or Mcfly. Musically we're totally f**king different, totally different. Mcfly are doing some sort of Beach Boys / Beatles amalgamation and Busted are doing Blink 182 and New Found Glory cartoon style. People just want to pigeon hole you. Four guys, easy on the eye, look reasonably young and holding guitars - ok they must be Busted!!!
Luke: We'll never profess that we're coming out with a brand new sound. We're definitely calling on our influences and tipping our hat to the influences. But at the moment I don't think there's anyone on the charts, or even on the London gigging scene, playing the same music that we are.
Nick: We know we're treading a thin line between pop and rock, we're very conscious of falling between the gap. Actually we're quite happy for people to say we're Busted and Mcfly, because we're quite happy to prove them wrong.
Q: For us it was never Busted or Mcfly we heard. "Come Get Some" was Reef and "Staring In The Sun" stole the intro from Oasis' "Champagne Supernova" and the bridge from Manchester indie band Haven.
Luke: We do get compared to Reef quite a lot, but they aren't really in the public eye a lot. But even with them the comparisons are only being made cos there's nothing else out there
Nick: Reef were ahead of their time. If they were coming out now, people would be going f**k yeah, this is wicked. I also think if we were a bit hairier and bit more sunken eyed instead of fresh faced, we wouldn't be getting the comparisons to Busted.
David: The comparisons are definitely an aesthetic thing. I think we need to become crack addicts or something's and shave our heads
Q: Well, it has worked for the Libertines. You'd get an NME cover every week.
Nick: We met old Doherty the other week. I shook his hand. He was very, glazed is the word i'm looking for. Very Cloudy. It was just before he jumped off stage and clocked some guy in the face, apparently.
Q: The albums out in two weeks. What does it sound like?
Luke: There's a couple of tracks like "Come Get Some", a couple of tracks heavier than "Come Get Some". And then it's got the lighter side like "Staring At The Sun". I think our seventies side is going to come out a lot.
Nick: As a debut we're really proud of it. We feel like this album is our chance to set us apart from who we've been compared to and really lay down our stamp of what Rooster's all about
Q: So if the first single sounded like Reef, the second took from Oasis. What's the third single gonna sound like?
Luke: The third single is bluesy as f**k. It's very Cream-y. Again parts of it have got some Oasis to it and it's a real head nodder. It's definitely different to the first two, but by the time that's out people will have a pretty good idea of what to expect from us. They'll realize we're a f**king rock band.
ROOSTER'S ROCK N ROLL CHALLENGE
Since Designer Magazine announced we were going to feature Rooster we've had various emails and comments sent to us. A personal favourite was a text a few hours prior to the interview which read "They won't know a rock from a roll, ask em if they'll ever snort coke off some hookers breast?". We didn't ask them that question, but what we did do was set them a challenge to find out if they were rock n roll boys or pop puppets by looking at some of those great rock n roll moments.
Q: Going along the line of thought of Rolling Stones, Mars Bars and Marianne Faithful. If it was Rooster what would be the food item and the celebrity involved
Nick: Well that was Mick Jagger eating a Mars bar out of Marianne Faithful's ****. For Rooster it would be Angelina Jolie with a Parma Ham and Mozzarella Panini. Or just a cucumber sandwich because then you'll get tuna and cucumber
Ben: Mine would Johnny Walker Blue, her standing over me tipping it out, in the library
David: That's a dirty image that.
Nick: Yeah, I need to go to the toilet
Q: The Beach Boys were famously associated with cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson. Which serial killer would Rooster most like to write with?
Ben: Yeah f**k, he wrote some of their songs didn't he. I remember he used to jam with their drummer didn't he
David: I'd have loved to have done some work with Harold Shipman, but we've got to watch out for the blue rinse brigade. And we can't write with the Yorkshire Ripper cos that's how we'll offend everyone in Yorkshire
Nick: Jack The Ripper because he was a legend. He was opium-ed up man. If he'd have been into music you know he'd have liked the Rolling Stones and ripped out these massive riffs.
Luke: Jack The Ripper was a goth rocker surely, a metal head.
Nick: Which serial killer would have the worst tunes? Harold Shipman cos it would be all trad jazz or dixie jazz tunes
Q: Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers cut the phrase "4 Real" into his arm when questioned the band about their integrity and how sincere they were. Imagine i'm Steve Lamacq - what would you do to prove Rooster are 4 Real?
Ben: I'd jump out of a window if that's what it took to prove I was for real.
Nick: When we write our protest album we'll write it in blood. We'd pin down Elvis and write it in his blood. Does that feel 4 Real?
David: I'd sacrifice a virgin
Rooster: No, we're not talking about your ultimate fantasy. You're jumping the gun a bit there
Q: What is the most rock n roll thing you've done?
Luke: I put a dart through a microwave. Luckily it wasn't on at the time or otherwise we might not have been here.
Nick: When we go to the pop shows we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves. You get V bouncing around cos they're miming to 2 songs at Wembley. I'm a big fan of the 411's tits. If they get them out i've got to film them. My girlfriend saw that the other day and she was not impressed. She turned on the camcorder and it was just tits with me shouting "Go on, Shake Em, Shake Em!!!"
Q: Realistically who would you like to collaborate with?
Nick: We do a "Sunshine Of Your Love" cover so we're thinking the Brits next year - us and Clapton on "Sunshine Of Your Love". If you're out there Eric please, stop looking at porn and get onto this site.
Who's on our label? Avril Lavigne, Steve from X Factor (laughs), Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver.
And on that moment we leave Rooster happy that they've passed the Rooster Rock N Roll Challenge. We also leave with the thought that things could be worse than constant Busted and Mcfly comparisons. They could be singing charity records with Mike Read after all. Being Rooster is one hell of a blast and by this time next year the doubters may well be eating their words.
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
"Staring At The Sun" is out now on Brightside / BMG
The self-titled debut album is out January 24th
The band tour through January and February
For more info
Are the 411's Tits the all-new pop accessory?
Who is your favourite serial killer songwriter?
Do the kids have a clue what a Marianne Faithful moment is?
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