Long live rock, I need it every night

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rhymin' and Stealin' with the Rosewood Thieves

I had the opportunity to chat with Erick Jordan of Brooklyn's Rosewood Thieves last week. I fully intended to (1) get this interview posted within a day of talking to Jordan and (2) see the band at DC9 on April 28. Sadly, I did neither. One saving grace is that our esteemed Jumbo Slice is now living in Austin, Texas, and is going to see the band with his pregnant-and-ready-to-burst-with-his-Amerasian-baby wife tomorrow night. He has agreed to report back to us on how the show goes.

"Los Angeles," From The Decker House (2006)

I'm pretty confident it'll be a good show. Jordan was nice enough to mail his band's complete discography to me (it's odd getting mail at my house addressed simply to "Jimbromski"): From The Decker House (2006), Lonesome (2007), and the soon-to-be released Rise & Shine. I was able to reach Jordan last week and I found him to be a pretty affable guy. Below is transcript of our chat:

Jimbromski: So you guys are going out on the road--will DC be your first date?

Erick Jordan: It's a three week tour--we're starting in Washington DC, and going all the way out to LA, and then back. We end in New York. We got the tour van all souped up with a new engine and everything. The last time we went out we got stuck in Illinois for a while.

Jski: I guess there's worse places to be stuck. How long were you stranded?

EJ: Maybe four days. We took up bowling. I got obsessed. After one night I got on eBay and bought shoes.

Jski: Oh, so you're all kitted out now, huh? Sometimes when you get stranded, some guys go native. Get a job, and suddenly 20 years have passed, and you live there with your wife and kids.

EJ: Yeah, exactly.

Jski: Rise & Shine is your first full-length album, following two EPs (From The Decker House and Lonesome). What's to stop you from just releasing EP after EP? You could be the musical version of a tapas restaurant. Other than the obvious differences of number of tracks, were there any challenges or obstacles to putting together an LP versus an EP?

EJ: When we went in to record we had an idea that we would only release small EPs for a while, and then have a box set-type of thing with, like, 10 EPs. I like short films, and I just like 20 minutes of some things, and I think you can get a point across in a short amount of time. But we went in to the studio [for Rise & Shine] thinking we'd do just another EP. But when we played it at home, we were so psyched with how everything came out, and we decided to go back in, and got a couple more songs together and made it a full length. It wasn't too stressful, because we never thought we were making an album.

Jski: I've read some press that compared your voice to John Lennon's. Rise & Shine to me sounded a bit (not a whole lot, but a bit) like Rubber Soul/Revolver era Beatles. Are you a Beatles guy, or a Rolling Stones guy, or neither?

Ah, when I grew up and I discovered the Beatles, when my parents introduced me to them, it just blew my mind. Their song arrangements are so solid, it's what attracted me to them. They say what they need to say, and it's catchy and perfect.

Jski: Yeah, they get to the point quickly.

EJ: Yeah, exactly. I'm all about getting to the bridge of a song within 45 seconds. It's hard, but it's great.

Jski: I read an interview with John Travolta once, believe it or not, and he said everyone had a Beatle personality, like a zodiac sign--you're either a John, a Paul, a George, or a Ringo. What's your Beatle personality, then?

EJ: I don't know if I'm as much of an asshole as Lennon. I think I'm more of a George. Lennon and George are my favorites.

Jski: I like to think I'm a rebel like John, but really I'm more of a Paul, I think...I think you've got a really good voice, but has anyone ever told you that your songs have a sort of ominous/creepy vibe to them? I'm thinking in particular of "Los Angeles" from Decker House--to me it sounds like it could be playing in the background while the Manson Family did their thing. It's just got a slightly Satanic thing to it--am I imagining that?

I think that's a great contrast, that when you first listen to a song and you think, oh, that's a nice song, and it's a got a poppy kind of feel, but once you really, like, listen to the lyrics later, it's like the meanest song in the world. And then vice versa--a really slow song, that's like really uplifting

Jski: "Silver Gun" is a great little song. Is that going to be your first single [from Rise & Shine]?

Yeah. And we actually just did a video for it. Our friend Justin Jay, who's a photographer, shot the video. We're also going to do a video for "She Don't Mind the Rain" out in Pennsylvania. We've been building all this crazy stuff for it, like time machines. For the next record we want to do a Help!-type movie.

Jski: I saw you worked with Bob Dorough on Decker House. Did he try and get you to make your songs more educational? How did you end up working with him? Did he talk like a Beatnik and call everyone "cat"? [note: Bob Dorough is a bebop and cool jazz pianist, best known for writing such songs as "Conjunction Function" and "I'm Just a Bill" for the Schoolhouse Rock! television program.]

I grew up in the area where he lives, in Delaware Water Gap, in Pennsylvania. So he would play around town a bit, and I'd go see him [play] when I was younger. I thought it would be cool to have him in the loop, so I called him up. He's not really like a family friend, but he knows us. It was awesome, he killed it. He fell right before [we recorded], he had a black eye, but he still came in. He was wearing sunglasses the whole time, and he had the whole lingo. He was like [does a jazz voice] "Aw, man, this is great, man, this is great!" And he did it so fast--he didn't know the songs, I just sat down and played them for him, and he just knocked it out. It was pretty incredible to see him go.

Jski: You know, I used to date his niece Julie when I was in high school. I was a senior and she was in community college. It was a hot romance. There's no question here, I just wanted to bring that up.

Ha ha, that's crazy.

Jski: Well, thanks for speaking to me, and thanks also for sending me the CDs. Will you be returning to DC anytime soon?

EJ: We're planning on coming back in the summer, for sure.

Again, my apologies to Mr. Jordan for taking so long to post this, and for missing the 4/28 show at DC9. I will definitely see the Rosewood Thieves upon their (triumphant) return to DC and I recommend all you DC Rock Club readers--all 14 of you--do so as well.


Jumbo Slice said...

I'm really looking forward to this show. Mohawk is a great place to see bands and the whole line-up is pretty good. Plus, yesterday was No Pants Day so I've decided to make it a 3-day holiday. I'm wearing only my Aquaman underoos tonight.

Jumbo Slice said...

Just got back from the show and I must say it was quite good. The other bands impressed as well. When you guys come to Austin I insist we hit up Mohawk. Great venue to see bands. And the $3 Lone Star beers can't be beat.

Jimbromski said...

Awesome, good to hear. You are going to post a review, right? We miss your musk.

Anonymous said...

I have been to Mohawk multiple times and can endorse it as an excellent venue. Not only does it have an excellent bar, the bathrooms are pretty clean.