INTERVIEW: Rocky Loves Emily

Under The Gun Review was fortunate enough to catch up with Sean Kick of Rocky Loves Emily late last week to discuss life on the road, signing with Tooth And Nail, plans for 2011, and what other bands should know when trying to promote on a national level.

UTG: You are currently on your first headlining tour since the release of your EP. How have things been going thus far?

RLE: Things have been pretty good thus far, but I don’t think we’d consider this a headlining run. We look at it more as just being a band on tour. We’ve been out with our friends in Set It Off who we’ve known forever and getting out with them has been pretty good. Some shows have had a smaller turn out, but it’s been good overall – lots of fun.

UTG: We saw you in Grand Rapids for the tour kickoff and it seemed most the audience had never seen you live before. Has that been a recurring theme throughout?

RLE: Not so much actually. We had some very odd things happen with that show in Grand Rapids. We’ve only played their twice, once during our very first run. Unfortunately for that show, both local acts dropped off and we had to pull on our fans from all over the state to fill. There was a small group of new kids, which is always cool. The second time we played was with Lights Out, but they dropped off right before the show and it kind of fell apart. Finally we had this show which actually turned out well. Lots of newcomers, which is cool, but it’s odd.

The rest of the run has been areas we’ve often played and the turnouts have been great. We’ve made a lot of friends over the years and it’s nice to see them turnout. However, Florida was a new market, but luckily Set It Off are from there and brought the kids.

UTG: A lot of bands find it hard to pull in cities outside of their home state when starting out, even with a label behind them. What do you do to ensure there are people there each and every night?

RLE: I was honestly think the best answer is: Friendship. You can go to a town and play for 50 people with 10-20 buying the album, but that doesn’t ensure they’ll come back. What we’ve found is the fans we make relationships with keep coming back and then bring their friends along. It’s the relationships that really make your band. I mean it’s great to sell your music or have them say they like it, but at the end of the day it’s about the connection you make with people. Learn your fans, talk to people, and make friends. Do you want 3000 fans or 100 people who are your friends and WILL come to your show?. It hasn’t always been that way and sometimes you have to go before you get the chance to connect with fans, but you need to make the effort when you can.

UTG: As a band with only one national release out, especially considering it’s an EP, how do you prepare for a headlining run? Is there an issue with having enough material?

RLE: We do have the EP (American Dream) with 5 songs, but there is another EP from before we were signed that we released in January 2009 as well as another 2 songs from March. It does get frustrating on the road when you’re trying to pick songs as you want to play material people know, but you also have to keep it fresh. As a musician, playing the same songs gets redundant and while you always want to play what people want to hear, you have to mix it up to keep yourself into it. We always play the EP and, if kids are into it, we’ll definitely dig into the back catalog a little bit. However, sometimes it doesn’t go so well and we’ll just run through the EP, which is fine because we love that release, but it is nice to change things up.

UTG: What would you say you’ve learned from this experience? What will you be sure to do/prepare for next time around?

RLE: What we’ve taken away from our previous tours and this one is how important promotion is. These smaller runs give us the chance to feel things out and try different ways to spread the word about our band. We’ve worked so hard to get our name out there and tell people about our music and shows, but it’s very difficult for a small band.

UTG: Your debut EP came out in November and was followed by a video for “Clueless” a few weeks later. Do you have plans to do another video for something off the EP? If so, what?

RLE: We do, but nothing is set in stone yet. I think we’re looking to do another video for “American Dream,” but I can’t give anything more away.

UTG: I know you can’t give too much away about your plans for 2011, but can you give us any idea as to when you’ll be recording/releasing your full length?

RLE: We’re constantly working on it actually. We write 24/7 because we’re not in a position to really take time for it. We do have a full length planned for this year (2011) with the main writing and recording taking place in April/May. No producers or anything, but it is happening. We’re pumped to get back into the studio and work on material again. We want to go deeper with our music.

Personally, one on of my idol’s is Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie). I live and breathe (his music) and we’d really like to write music like that. We’ve all been going through some unbelievable things and we want to share them. I think everyone goes through those big things though and the idea that anyone’s story is better or not as good as another is crazy.

UTG: Even though Tooth And Nail has always had a diverse roster, your sound definitely stands out as unique compared to their current and previous talent. What made you sign with them?

RLE: Believe me, that same question has come from a ton of different people. It’s true no one has our sound (on the label) and it has made some things difficult, but it’s also gotten a lot of attention for us.

We saw other labels and talked to them, but we were excited about the family aspect Tooth And Nail offer. They literally function as a family. Micah Dean, for instance, is an incredible guy we met in Seattle on Copeland’s last tour who works at Tooth And Nail, but he approached us for friendship (as opposed to approaching them for business). That’s what we think music is for, relationships.

UTG: I know you’re busy and I don’t want to keep you, so why not give me a few closing remarks and we’ll call it an interview:

RLE: If you have a dream, follow it. Don’t get stuck in the stale flow of “what’s going on” with everyone else.

Interview conducted and transcribed by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • NickNack

    Sean Kick is the most legendary guitarist to ever lay hands on the axe! And he is sexy!