Nick Atkinson – vocals
Luke Potashnick - guitar
Ben Smyth - bass/backing vocals
David Neale - drums
There has never been a shortage of bands who talk big. But it has been a long time since a young, new group has come along with a rock'n'roll heart as big as that of West London band Rooster.
Singer Nick Atkinson, 24, and guitarist Luke Potashnick, 22, went to school together, where their paths crossed from time to time. But it wasn't until later on that the pair got together and began writing material with a view to starting a band. Luke was by then studying for a degree at the London School of Economics, while Nick was at University studying English and Drama. Both of them had been obsessive music fans for as long as they could remember.
The reference points for Luke were the classic English rock guitarists: Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin, early Eric Clapton when he was in Cream and the Yardbirds and especially the mighty Paul Kossoff whose intensely emotional style was a cornerstone of Free's uniquely taut, heavy rock sound.
"That's what I'm calling upon rather than any of the 1980s stuff," Luke says. "I've played since I was 11 and as I got older I realized that the faster stuff - although you can play it - it just doesn't mean anything. Jimmy Page was one of the faster players that actually made sense on a musical level. But Kossoff - that's what really does it for me, and I want to pass that on to other people through my playing."
Nick's influences, meanwhile tended towards the more populist rock of Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses.
"It's all about the big chorus," Nick says. "You mustn't be afraid of the big chorus. For me, music is something that you want to sing along to. You want to get people involved on every level."
Where Luke and Nick come together is in their enthusiasm for Velvet Revolver, the band featuring Slash and ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. "That is an awesome album," Luke says.
Having started writing together "to see what would happen", it soon became obvious to Nick and Luke that the chemistry between the two both on a musical and a personal level was exceptional.
"We pretty quickly decided we should get a band together," Luke says.
Drummer Dave Neale, 19, was recruited from the wilds of Cornwall where he had played percussion in band that Luke had become involved with on an earlier visit down there.
"He just had a really perfect sound and a cool stage presence," Luke says. "He doesn't over-play, but he really has that weight in his sound, where it counts."
Meanwhile, bass player Ben Smyth, 19, was recruited through a small ad in the rock press.
"Here was this young guy who was a lot better than he should have been for his age," Luke says. "He sings backing vocals, which is what we wanted. And he's got a big five-string bass. He needs it for the stuff we're doing."
The band settled on the name Rooster when Nick came home £250 richer after putting a bet on a horse called Rooster Booster. While the band is now ready to come racing out of the traps, all four musicians have put in many years learning their craft, playing live and walking the walk. It was Nick who was initially spotted singing in a previous band by Hugh Goldsmith. Goldsmith wasn't too impressed with the group, but he remembered the skinny singer with the raucous rock'n'roll voice and the long floppy fringe. So further down the road, when Goldsmith was setting up his new Brightside label, he called up Nick and asked him what he was up to. Nick said he was working with Luke in a new band. Not long afterwards, Rooster became the first act to sign to Brightside/BMG.
An intensive period of writing and recording ensued, of which the first fruit is a single, ‘Come Get Some’ – which is instantly addictive with a killer hook and a grand canyon-sized chorus. Typical of the Rooster sound it is hard and heavy in an old school way, but with a modern feel and a nimble melodic touch.
"Rather than rocking out like the headbangers, we wanted to get a sort of bouncing thing going," Luke says. "There's a definite hip hop component in there."
The individual members of the group have all had many years of experience on the live circuit. Now with the line-up completed and an album's worth of songs written they have started gigging in their own right. The effect on the concert promoter Simon Moran, who came to check them out at one of their first shows at the Water Rats in King's Cross, was instantaneous. Halfway through the gig he’d already decided that he was going to ask them to play at this year’s V Festival.
The band are also topping the bill at the "City Showcase" at the Borderline on September 7, an annual event sponsored by XFM, which was headlined last year by Razorlight.
"We want to bring back classic rock," Luke says with a big grin. "No modern, young bands are really trying to do that any more. We want to remind people of the craft and the spirit and the sheer excitement of music that not only works in your heart and in your mind but blows you away out there on the big stage. There's a lot of 16-year-old kids that have missed out on the 1970s and the kind of great music that was around back then. They might not have heard Hendrix or anything, but they love rock tracks. If anyone hears us and gets into Zeppelin or AC/DC as a result, then that would be a huge thrill for me.
"Whether it's writing, recording, gigging or whatever, there isn't any one aspect of this that we don't enjoy, and that we don't throw ourselves into with 100% commitment," Luke says. "We want to be doing this for a long time."
Source: Rooster Press Office (August 2004)
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