Robert Schwartzman of Rooney: "The Live Shows Have Been More Fun Than Ever."
Rooney is back and better than ever! After a six year gap between albums, the Los Angeles band and brainchild of frontman Robert Schwartzman just released their incredible comeback, Washed Away and will be hitting the road in support of the album, bringing their performance to Denver, CO at Lost Lake on July 13th. While it may have been a while since we've heard anything from Rooney, that doesn't mean that Schwartzman hasn't been busy. Between Washed Away and the band's 2010 release Eureka, Schwartzman released two solo albums, scored a critically acclaimed feature film, launched an iPhone app for musicians, built a highly sought after live/work recording studio facility and wrote, scored, directed and produced a feature film. We recently caught up with the multi talented frontman about the new album, balancing work and the upcoming Rooney dates.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
The Prelude Press: I want to start by talking about Rooney’s new album, Washed Away. When listening to it now, what is your favorite thing about the album? What were you most excited for listeners to hear?
Robert Schwartzman: I think there’s a wide spectrum of music on this album. It’s a nice feeling when I get to play someone the album, and I’m not sure where to start, which song to play first. I’ve heard that from people who have listened to Washed Away, and people who have been into Rooney for a while. Everyone’s got a favorite song, something different, so I take that as a good sign. But, overall, I think I’m most excited just to have a new album out. I want listeners to listen to the whole album, not just one song.
There’s a six year gap between Eureka and Washed Away. How do you feel the time between these releases has affected the sound and subject matter on Washed Away?
I’ve been going back and listening to the older Rooney albums and they sound different than I remembered them. I think that’s because once an album is finished, you move on from it and you enter the live show phase. So performing all the Rooney songs is how I hear them, it’s how I remember them, from the live show recreation of the songs. The time away from Rooney was a way to reset myself, and just enjoy the process, make music that excited me, etc..
A lot of artists these days seem to pump out album after album every year or two, so what made you want to take your time on this release?
I like the idea of making an album every year. I’d like to become one of those artists. I’m actually recording an album’s worth of music every year, so it’s possible, but I tend to rework, remix, remaster a lot. I’d say that today’s digital world of releasing music, all the streaming platforms, has put more urgency on the release process, which affects the quality of the music and recordings. It can help and it can hurt when you just throw something online. Maybe you don’t over think it, so that can be good, but perhaps it becomes more of a quantity game over taking the time to make the song as great as it can be. To clarify, I didn’t work on recording Washed Away for 5 years. I was taking time away from Rooney and started to get back into it on and off till the album started to reveal itself.
This being Rooney’s seventh album, did you have any big goals for Washed Away?
Just to keep pushing myself as a songwriter, challenge the production, the overall sound of the band, of the recording. I produced the album as well so in order to be that role and be the artist; it takes time to be honest with myself as I work. But that’s always been my process and my goal, to make the best album I can make, something that I can be excited about and hope listeners will share that excitement.
What do you feel was your biggest struggle you came across while working on the album?
I think the biggest struggle is staying focused on a specific direction for the songs, music, and production. I like a lot of different styles of music, so I can easily deviate from the sound that’s been established. It’s cool to work with a theme, build off of that, and use it as an anchor for the entire album.
Creatively, you’re been involved in a ton of projects between the last Rooney album and Washed Away, one of which being your new film, Dreamland, which was also your directorial debut - Do these different projects ever bleed into one another, or do you prefer to keep them separate?
I find it very stimulating to have different projects orbiting at the same time. I can dance between them, and they kind of keep the momentum, help each other creatively. So they do overlap and cross paths at times, consciously and subconsciously. For example, there’s a new Rooney song in Dreamland, so that’s a way they overlap. And there were times where I found parallels between the process of recording using Pro Tools, and the process of editing using Final Cut.
What do you feel has been your biggest growth, whether as a musician, artist or just in general between the first album you released and now?
It’s hard to say and critique myself. As I think about it, I don’t know if I see some of the things as a growth or as a hindrance. Creatively, I feel like when I first started, I didn’t have any expectations or understanding of things, so I just wrote songs and went with it. Now, I’m more aware of this industry, the game, both sides of the process of making and releasing music, so I have to detach myself from that mindset. I feel like I got to get back in touch with that part of me when writing this album, not caring, just going with it and enjoying it, and following the music.
You’re also just getting ready to embark on your Welcome Home tour in a couple of weeks. What about being on the road once more are you most excited about?
Yes, it’s gonna be fun to get back on the road and start performing this July. I want the shows to be great and for everyone to enjoy the experience so it’s rewarding to be able to keep spreading the Rooney tunes. The live shows have been more fun than ever before these days, so I’m happy to be able to take the stage again.
What can fans expect from these upcoming tour dates?
They can expect to hear a variety of music from over the years. Every album release, it’s cool to figure out what songs to play, how to build a new setlist, with songs from the past and the new album. It’s all been gelling well.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s been listening to Rooney and I hope you like the new album!
WELCOME HOME TOUR DATES:
7/8 - Mission Valley, CA @ On The Border
7/9 - Phoenix, AZ @ Pub Rock
7/10 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Bunkhouse
7/12 - Albuquerque, MN @ Launchpad
7/13 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
7/15 - Kansas City, MO @ The Tank Room
7/16 - Norman, OK @ Opolis
7/17 - Martindale, TX @ Float Fest
9/16 - Del Mar, CA @ KAABOO Del Mar