Taylor Locke and The Roughs
Band Members: Taylor Locke, Chris Price, Charlotte Froom, Mikey McCormack
Albums: Grain & Grape (available on iTunes), Marathon (available soon!)
In Short: Taylor Locke and The Roughs is the product of a collaboration between Chris Price (Price) and Taylor Locke (Rooney). The two wrote and produced two albums that bring the rock back to pop.
Interview – Part 2
When was the first Roughs show?
We played a really weird spot downtown called Bordello and we played Slim’s in San Francisco opening for Sloan. That was our first show. Our second show was at King King on Hollywood Blvd opening for Sloan. I think I’m forgetting something else.
Is it different playing a Roughs show as opposed to a Rooney show? Do you get more nervous?
I’m not more nervous. It requires a lot more concentration. It’s really natural for me to play guitar and sing background vocals with Rooney but standing in the middle of the stage, singing lead and then handing off the lead vocal to myself for a lead guitar, and then handing it back off to myself to start singing again…you can’t miss a beat. And then talking to the crowd between songs…I’m used to putting my head down and tuning up. Now I’m trying to tune up and talk…hit all the bullet points…make sure people know we have a record out and everything.
Does touring help?
I wish the Roughs had the opportunity to do a proper tour. The repetition of jumping up and getting into the routine every night is what makes you a real performer. It’s what turns a musician from a boy to a man. Playing a couple of shows at some local clubs every month is great and I love doing it now…I think it’s the right thing and the only thing the Roughs can do but you get out on the road and you jump in every night…it’s muscle memory. It goes into your long term memory instead of your short term memory. For example, when we do guitar solos on the record we don’t write them when we’re writing the songs. We leave them blank for when we record. So I go and just try a bunch of stuff…just do stuff…and I don’t even know what I’m doing…I just do my thing. Then we edit it up and put together a guitar solo.
The solo not in my long term memory. My hands don’t know it in their muscles. It’s just something we pieced together in the moment. Same goes for Rooney records. After you finish a record, you go and you learn your solos and then you have to record them a bunch so when you play them live it’s something your body can just do. With Roughs material, both vocally and guitar wise, I’m somewhere in-between…transitioning into getting it into my long term muscle memory where it’s something my body can just do on autopilot.
It’s difficult that it’s not there yet because at a Rooney show I don’t even have to look down at the guitar. We played a different set every night this summer. Robert [Schwartzman] would make the sets and we wouldn’t even look them over very much. Sometimes for fun I wouldn’t even glance at [the set list] before we get on stage. We would be in the huddle and I’d say “what are we opening with?” Robert would tell me the first song and I’d just look down and take it from there. Some songs I would have to get a slide, switch guitars, or step on different pedals…but it’s too easy so I’d just leave it blank.
Do you play lead guitar with the Roughs?
I play most of the solos but we don’t have as typical a rhythm/lead relationship as Robert and I do in Rooney. We’re co-guitarists and the parts are interwoven. There’s stuff happening between the two guitars. When it comes to a full-on solo I take most of them but on the new record Chris has a couple of guitar solos. He has some lead guitar moments on the first record too. The thing about his style of guitar playing is you can’t even really call it rhythm guitar. We take the Rolling Stones approach where it’s just left and right, push and pull, weaving two guitarists together. There’s a song called “Don’t Forget” which is a ballad on Marathon. The only guitar I play on the song is the solo but all the parts that Chris does are high-water mark Chris guitar playing. It’s also a piano song for him so when we play it live I’m going to have to learn his guitar parts from the record. I don’t even know how…especially while singing. It’s some unbelievable stuff that he does on guitar and we can’t really play the same things because he plays in his lap…you’ll see live. He has some lead moments but even his rhythm moments are pretty special.
What’s your favorite song to play live?
I don’t know. I’m really looking forward to putting a few of the Marathon songs in the shows. We’ll start rehearsing those and see how that goes. In the first few shows, “Jennifer” was really fun because it’s catchy, people get it, it’s a sexy song, it has a good vibe and it has a big guitar solo. “Reach for the Sky” is exciting live. For an acoustic show, “Hourglass” is really nice to do.
Who is your greatest musical influence?
All the 60’s bands like the Beatles and the Stones, and all that…big time. Queen…Brian May, guitar player from Queen. When I was 12 and 13, Nirvana was happening. I know everybody liked it and it’s kind of cliché to say but they really are one of my favorite bands and will always be. Out of my friends, my inner core group of musician friends: Bleu, Ned, Chris, Mike Viola and John Fields who produced the second Rooney record. Ninety-percent of my friends are musicians and most of them are really good musicians so I get influenced by the people I play with and write with. Chris it goes without saying…this is our project together, but Mike Viola I think is unbelievable…I think he’s the best.
What’s your favorite song on each album?
I don’t know…it depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Grain and Grape, I’ve lived with that record for a while now so it’s not the same as when we first heard it back.
What was your favorite song when you were first recording?
All of them, I don’t know. I really like “Hourglass” because the record has a magic that we didn’t do live…some of my friends suggest we drop it from the live set because they thought it was a low point in the show. I realized that it’s because the production sounds so great that we can’t do it like that live. I think it’s a nice song. I love “Reach for the Sky” because it rocks. “What Have I Done” is an emotional song for me. When we first finished [the song] it was almost painful. It was a song I didn’t want to listen to or sing.
What inspired “What Have I Done”?
I think it’s pretty obvious that we don’t write abstract impressionist lyrics. For all of our songs, you can hear in the words that I’m singing…the way that I sing and the way we mix the vocals…it’s looking back on a relationship that’s over and having regrets. Now with the passage of time I can sing it better because I’m more comfortable with it. That song is a heavy song.
Where do you see the Roughs going? What would you like to have happen?
I would like to, it sounds cliché, but I would like to gain the respect of musicians, music critics, music fans, and people who care about quality work. I would like the group to be recognized as something that puts out good records. I think, obviously, we have one record that people seem to like and we need to prove ourselves now. Among our close friends and family who have heard Marathon, they think it’s better or at least on par. I know the three brand new songs that Chris and I just finished are really good songs.
I just want people to like…I will tell you exactly what I want to see happen. R.E.M. was this underground college rock band in the 80’s who put out tons of records. On like their sixth record they became this enormous band. I would like to keep my head down in the sand, pump these records out, make sure they’re really good, and then one day all of a sudden people will go, “Oh, I love that song…who does that song? Oh, The Roughs? Oh, I’m going to check out their other records….they have how many records? They have five records and all of them are really good?” I want to blow people away.
It has to do with the modern model of technology and being able to put things up on iTunes yourself. I want to use that to really create a body of work. I want to turn it into a thing where it’s taken seriously, it’s well-respected and people anticipate our next record. We put so much effort into it and we’re not going to put something out that isn’t quality. Some people are going to like it more than others. No one is going to like every song. Some people are going to be challenged and baffled by the song suite [on Marathon]. We haven’t even gotten Marathon from the CD manufacturers yet and I’m thinking of a third record. I just want to do more work. There can never be too many good songs in the world.
(Fan Question) When can we expect some merchandise for the Roughs?
That’s a good question. When we first started we had an idea about really limited edition/one-of-a-kind/homemade-style merch…getting people to do hand-drawn shirts and stuff. I want to do everything. Maybe sooner than later.
(Fan Question) What is the song “Start Me Over” about because it helped me through some hard times?
It helped me through some hard times too. It’s about just kind of being depressive and bummed out. I think everybody feels that way and it is ok to write a song about that kind of thing. It’s about feeling kind of good for nothing. Feeling kind of worthless. Start me over, the phrase, means you wish you could go back to a place before negative things entered your head. Like when you were a kid and you were pure. When you get older, things happen. You get sick or you get in a fight with someone or a relationship breaks down or you’re struggling with demons…it’s just about kind of…demons…the CD underbelly.
It’s about feeling like a bum. All of those lines are supposed to be visual about an actual bum…a homeless guy. A dude in a filthy trench coat drinking out of a bottle down by the train tracks. It’s about feeling like you could be that dude. Some really troubled guy who doesn’t have a lot to show for in this world. Even though we aren’t those people and we’re very lucky…it’s about feeling like sometimes you get depressed and you feel like you could be one of those people. Help me clean up my act before it’s too late…before you’re just permanently going to be that bummed out guy trying to start yourself over.
(Fan Question) Will there be more acoustic videos posted on YouTube?
Yeah, sure sure. We’ll do them. We have to buckle down and do them but it’s like…if Chris comes to my house and it’s “would you rather write a new song or do you want to go play “Reach for the Sky” on the couch in front of my laptop?” We’d probably rather write a new song.
(Fan Question) If you could play any venue, which would it be and why?
I’m not too fussy about venues as long as there’s a great crowd and it’s full. I’d love to get this band to the Troubadour. Within L.A., smaller sized clubs, that’d be the one.
(Fan Question) Are the Roughs going to do any Live Chats?
Yeah, I’d love to.
(Fan Question) What’s one thing you would tell an artist who wants to make an album on their own?
Get a good partner. Get a collaborator. Get someone to tell you if your [music] stinks. Don’t try to do everything yourself. The power of team work and collaboration and multiple heads being put together yields such a stronger result than the lone genius in his room. Unless you’re Brian Wilson don’t try to be Brian Wilson.
If you’re buying equipment to put a studio together, do your research. Don’t start spending money on things you don’t understand. Learn the gear and get the right pieces. Ask questions. Get a few other people around you to help make you the best you can be.
(Fan Question) Are the Roughs going to be touring anytime soon?
I’d love to. I’d really love to. We’re trying to put something together for November/December. We’ll take the Roughs on tour when I think it could be satisfying and solid. I’d like to try a week. Do five shows in the Northwest, maybe Seattle, Portland, two in the Bay area, one mid-California on the way home or a week in the Northeast and do Boston, Philly, D.C., New York…something like that. I think our move would be to try a one-week mini-tour of either the Northwest or the Northeast.
(Fan Question) How do you feel when you finish an album?
You get a little bit of postpartum depression because you don’t have anything to work on anymore. It’s done but it’s really satisfying. I just listen to [the record] over and over again for those first two or three days after I finish it. Then I’m sick of it and don’t listen to it at all anymore. It’s an addictive feeling which is why I want to do another one.
(Fan Question) What are your plans for more music videos?
We have an idea for a YouTube commercial for Marathon but not a traditional music video. We’ll do something for this record.
Just for Fun: Say the world is going to end in 2012 and they decide to move us all to space stations…you can only bring three non-essential items…what would you bring and why?
A guitar and something to record on…a guitar, microphone, and computer.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I really appreciate that there’s a handful of fans that have rallied behind this project. It’s very motivational and it makes me feel that what we’re doing is worthwhile. Thanks to the people who have gotten behind this project. If we keep spreading the word and get it to a more stable place with an audience then we will tour and we will make merchandise and all that.