Dear Wesleyan, I have a confession. I haven’t been as involved with the music scene as I would have liked. It’s not that I didn’t know about when concerts were happening – I lived across the street from Eclectic for two years – I just never got in the habit of incorporating “go to [insert band name here] concert” into my Friday and Saturday night schedules. But if there was ever an exception, and there is always an exception, it was for the soul-grabbing, dance-inducing, heart-pumping rhythms of The Rooks.
Seeing as my concert track record is so poor, it’s a miracle I went to a Rooks concert in the first place, but after I did, I never missed a performance. So imagine my sadness when, eventually, all the band members graduated, and The Rooks migrated elsewhere, performing their music in a place with far too long a commute for me to attend.
But then, a miracle! I was up at Middlebury, visiting my sister with my dad for her parent’s weekend. We were looking over the schedule of events for families, and I saw a concert listing for “The Rooks”. At first, I was incredulous. Could this be the Wesleyan Rooks? Was I just so desperate for their music that I was hallucinating phantom shows? Either way, I had to see for myself. My sister gave me directions to the Middlebury version of Usdan as she prepared for a party, and I made my way across campus, guided the final few meters by a musical sound that couldn’t be anything except what I wanted it to be.
“I don’t think we would have the same chance in this city if we went to any other school or formed in any other way. It had to be Wesleyan.”
Forget MGMT. Amanda Who? Das What? Wesleyan’s biggest hype band is The Rooks, a six-piece R&B/indie-soul band made up of a group of friends and members of the Classes of 2011 and 2012. The majority of them have settled in New York City after graduating, and since then, the band has released a handful of singles and now – finally – their debut studio EP, Something You Can Take. The album, now on Bandcamp for your free download enjoyment, is a must-hear for anyone who has a taste for classic rhythm and blues, hip-hop, indie rock, or really has ears at all. And, if you’re in the NYC area this Friday, June 21, The Rooks will be playing Fat Baby at 10 PM, so you can experience them live.
I had the opportunity to sit down for a Google Hangout with The Rooks frontman/lead singer Garth Taylor ’12 and drummer Nate Mondschein ’12 to talk about their new album, the forming of the band, the support of the Wesleyan community, and the difficulties of labeling a music style.
Ahoy! It’s been a good while since we’ve last heard of the long lost band The Rooks since they left Wes to the real world AKA “beyond the outer-rim,” but dry your eyes, don’t you cry, I come bearing good news and sugar treats! Above is a brand new video the Rooks released on New Years to reflect on 2012. It’s a Stevie Wonder medley the band performed at their live show in the ’92 in April, and it features the Mad Wow horn section and guests vocalists Claire Randall and Bridget Read.
The Rooks’ own Garth Taylor ’12, who says the Rooks will be releasing more material from that show in the coming months, comes bearing word:
We’ve performed pretty steadily in New York since we left M-town in May. We opened up for Talib Kweli at the Highline Ballroom in September, which was a total blast, and performed at the Bitter End and other NY hot spots. Gabe Gordon ’11 (keys) and I actually took a day trip today to perform an acoustic-y set at Midnight on Main, and took a little stroll around College Row. Our last live full band show was in October—we took three months off to prepare new material for an EP we’re going to be recording in January.
Evan Okun ’13— slam poet, musician, and generally all-around awesome person—wants you to know about a new single released today as part of Music & Public Life. His description below:
Click here to play and download (for free): “Billionaire (remix)“—composed, written, recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely by Wesleyan students/graduates: Evan Okun ’13 (Rapper & Lyricist), Mel Hsu ’13 (Cellist and Vocalist), Sam Friedman ’13 (Harmonica player and Pianist ), Greg Shaheen ’13 (Percussionist), Garth Taylor ’12 (Vocalist), and Jared Paul ’11 (Engineer). Even the photograph used for the Album Art was shot and edited by a Wesleyan student!
The song is being released to promote the year-long campus-wide exploration of Music & Public Life, which began this past Friday with THE MASH. After listening, please find a room, an instrument, a friend, and make music!
This song simultaneously examines (1) the human tendency to self indulge (focusing on liberal-elites recent tendency to place all blame on the 1% without addressing the unsustainable standard of living that we, the top 10%, have grown accustom to) and (2) the Buddhist theory that all craving ultimately leads to dissatisfaction, since it implicitly frames life without the desired object/body as empty or devoid of substantial value. Bang Bang.
Alright, folks – listen up. Garth “Slutty Babies” Taylor ’12just sent a delightful piece of news over to us here at the Wesleying offices. Lemme break it down for you point-by-point:
They have just released three new singles (Nothing Wrong, Sleepwalkin‘, and HoldOn). You can find them on their Bandcamp Website, and you can taste them from the players after the jump. According to Garth, “The tracks were recorded by best bud and alum, Jared Paul ’11, during February.”
Also, they made a music video for Nothing Wrong. Directed by fluffy bunny Zach Valenti ’12, and stars a bunch of knick-nacks, and a fish named, “Wayne Proudfins.”
One more thing. Garth writes: “We’ve got a lot of great new original material that we’ll be debuting for this performance. For instance, be performing a full band version of Prince’s ‘How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.'” The cover can also be found after the jump.
He wraps up: “I think that’s all. Let me know if you need any more info (provided that I just shat a bunch of things on you).”
Now I know you might still be trying to wake up from your 13-hour weekend slumber/13-hour rage-a-thon-with-a-fuzzy-purple-pogo-stick, but I highly encourage you to pop an aspirin, grab a cup of coffee and huddle over here because I’ve got something shiny and new for you today.
Sexy beast extraordinaire Garth Taylor ’12 (which, as you may or may not know, is a housemate of AJ “Big Bird” Hinds ’12 and whose smooth, smooth shows with Mad Wow tickles my knees), writes in to tell us about this new band he’s been jamming with: The Rooks. The band is composed of Mr. Taylor, Gabe Gordon ’11, Graham Richman ’11, Louis Russo ’11, Nate Mondschein ’12, & Spencer Hattendorf ’12.
Want more info? Click here, or check after the jump.