I had the opportunity to speak with Rooney recently. Read on below to hear from frontman Robert Schwartzman about music, fame, and keeping true to yourself.
PPJ: Tell us about what went into creating your new album Eureka. Did you do anything differently for this album than you did for any previous ones?
Robert: Making Eureka was a new experience for us. It's the first record we've done completely in house....literally in house. We used my home studio, which was an old two car garage that's been converted into a small studio. It's got great sunlight and a good vibe...not a sterile ambiance. Although we've always been hands on with previous albums, we produced and engineered the entire album ourselves. It was tough to pick songs, since there's no one with us to be the bad guy, so it made for a more fragile experience. But in the end, we made it through all the drama and picked the best stuff. Even pushed ourselves to go back to the writing process and improve the songs we set out to record. Overall, we pushed ourselves to get away from the old model in the music industry and to bring down our overhead. We're not on Interscope anymore and we're looking forward to working this album with ILG. Musically, we wanted to keep the album organic, but also keep the Rooney sound that our fans and our inner fans like.
PPJ: When you put out The Wild One, you were label-less. How is the process and experience of producing and releasing a record different (or the same) when you aren't on a label versus when you are on a label?
Robert: We're feeling the difference now that we're a month away from releasing Eureka. It's hard to call Wild One a release, since we didn't promote it in anyway. We used TuneCore to get it up on online retail sites and blogged about it. It was really just a way to keep our core fans happy till the new albums hits the streets...the online streets. There's a lot more work when you self-release. Luckily, we're not alone and we have great people working with us at ILG to help get the message out that Rooney is back! Or, that Rooney is still here! I like to get my hands dirty and we have a long way to go on our new journey.
PPJ: You've toured with some pretty high profile bands. What's been your favorite or most memorable tour so far, and why?
Robert: It's been cool to have such a diverse touring history. I like all the tours for different reasons. There are always ups and downs, no matter how big the tour or how credible the opportunity. I would say touring in Europe was very memorable and playing on international tv shows was very exciting for us. I remember playing on this French TV music/talk show and looking at my band mates thinking, "this is nuts!" In a good way.
PPJ: When you were working with Rick Ocasek, what kind of input were you willing to take from him? What did you learn from working with him?
Robert: Well, we never actually got to make an album with Ric, but we was super cool to me and we hung out a bunch. We flew out to NYC to play for him, did a show at CBGB's with my brother old band Phantom Planet. I asked Ric if I could use his Pink Jazzmaster, which he lent me...I held on to it for a few years! He really liked the "demos" he got, If It Were Up To Me, Pop Stars, and Losing All Control. He said we should just use those on the album and record the rest. Having his stamp of approval was cool and led us back to Keith Forsey and Brian Reeves, who recorded the "demos." We did a rehearsal that Ric attended and he gave me some notes, like, for the song Simply Because, "change the word simply because of the drugs, to simply because of the trust." Which I ended up changing.
PPJ: Looking back on your past albums, is there anything you would change? Why?
Robert: Hmmmmm...it's hard to say. There's always something to change, but nothing major that's been bothering me all these years. It was a bummer to make 3 albums and only release one, Calling The World, but we made the better album in the end.
PPJ: What is your favorite thing about your new album?
Robert: I think it sounds really good and the songs are some of my favorite Rooney songs. It's got different sides, so it's always hard to pick one song to play for someone.
PPJ: Do you find you get recognized more for being in Rooney or for your famous relatives? Has that changed over time?
Robert: I think it would be weird to be recognized for having famous relatives...like why would that happen? I get recognized for having acted in a few movies, but I get recognized for being in Rooney too.
PPJ: Matt is leaving the band after this record. Are there plans for him to stay peripherally involved with the band?
Robert: Matt left the band already, but he made Eureka with us. He played great bass on the album and we had a good run together. He's now becoming a veterinarian, so he's off to a new life. We have a great new bass player with us named Brandon Quinn and he's really a great fit.
PPJ: How much say do you have in the movies and TV shows your music plays in?
Robert: We have full say and approval. Actually, I heard a song in a movie without approving it, but those were the Interscope days. Ned found a Chuckie Cheese that was playing I'm Shakin'...the robotic rat was singing our song! But I like when TV shows or movies or commercials use our music.
PPJ: What are your plans after the album release?
Robert: Well, I'd like to make a new Rooney album and I'd like to put out some music on the side. I've been producing and writing for different projects and I'm enjoying all of it. Also, I wanna make a X-Mas album!