The New Rochelles have been kicking around since the early 2000s however after a long hiatus and line-up change the band has been kicking on strong since 2010. So strong in fact that they’ve recently released a new album, “It’s New,” on Bright and Barrow Records.
Hailing from New York, the band draws heavily on influences, the most obvious of those being The Ramones. We spoke to Ronnie, Ricky and Rookie Rochelle about their new album, the cut down vinyl release, baseball and they also tell us how to survive an encounter with the illusive creature know as the Skunk Ape. Check out the full interview here.
Interview by Joel Bramblia
So Ronnie, Ricky and Rookie, let’s start with the basic question that most fans want know. Who came up with the name New Rochelles and what does it signify?
Rookie: Take this up with Ronnie, he’ll make something up.
Ricky: Ronnie claims that there’s a doo wop band named the Rochelles…so we’re the New Rochelles, even though we’re not a doo wop band.
Ronnie: I came up with the name; it comes from my least favorite town in the tri-state area.
Now that we know meaning behind The New Rochelles, how did The New Rochelles come together as a band?
Rookie: Ricky and Ronnie started the band back in like 2000 or something. They kinda pushed this project aside for a while as their other band got more and more attention. I was selling merch for that band and the plan was to always bring The New Rochelles back. We tried in 2004, I don’t think much happened then, but since 2010 we have been going strong.
Ricky: The New Rochelles met in high school. We recorded a demo back in 2002. We were active in other bands until 2009. The New Rochelles really started up in 2010 and these days we’re the new band in town.
Ronnie: Ricky and i were in another band together and this was our fun time side project. We had a handful of solid originals that we played around with, fixed up and re recorded along with some new originals.
After listening to your debut record it’s obvious that some of the sound behind your music was influenced by the legendary New Yorkers ‘The Ramones.’ Was the record fueled from any other influences that would surprise your punk rock fans?
Ricky: My vocal harmonies are inspired through listening and practice. I participated in the school chorus from grades 4-12. I was always attracted to vocal harmonies; first recognized in oldies, and then punk rock and other kinds of music. More recently, I sang with a sacred harp group which further developed my harmonies, especially for this album. Surprise, punk rockers.
Ronnie: No surprises here, our obvious influences also include Screeching Weasel, The Queers, The Lillingtons etc.
Staying on topic with your new record, it has twelve fun-filled tracks full of fast power chords and catchy riffs that hold the album at about 15 minutes. How many songs did you guys originally write and is their other new music that didn’t make the cut?
Rookie: We have plenty of other songs, they practically write themselves. It’s not that some didn’t make the cut it’s just that we thought these 12 went best together.
Ricky: There are a few songs that didn’t make the cut, including, “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Crawlspace,” “I’m Contaminated,” and “Two Scoops.”
Ronnie: There were a few songs that didn’t make it to the studio. They’ll hopefully make the next record. which we’ve already started writing for.
I had never heard the term Skunk Ape (named for its appearance and for the stinky odor that is said to accompany it, according to the U.S. Park Service, the skunk ape exists only as a local myth) until I heard your record. So do you guys have any tips for your fans about how to survive an encounter with a Skunk Ape?
Rookie: Always travel with a banana to try and appease the Skunk Ape.
Ricky: Yes, I hear if you put a clothespin on its nose, it keeps the skunk ape from smelling.
Ronnie: Definitely stay out of Florida and keep a banana around at all times to distract the beast.
Staying on topic about certain track titles on the new album, you guys are obviously in love with your own LJ. So how long have each of you owned your LJ’s ?(An LJ is a Leather Jacket)
Rookie: I have had my LJ for about 8 or 9 years now. I’ll be buried in it.
Ricky: About eight years.
Ronnie: I’ve owned/traded/sold/lost/found quite a few LJs over the years. My newest LJ was bought from a guy that needed money for drugs about 2 years ago.
Guys, as a vinyl junkie myself, I was happy to see that the band offered a vinyl release as well. However, the 7 inch version only has 6 out of the full 12 tracks. Where these 6 tracks your favorite out of the 12 or was it Bright and Barrow Records decision?
Rookie: We decided to cut it so that it would make for two equally awesome 7 inch records. There is a good chance you will see the other six songs on vinyl sometime in the near future.
Ricky: It was our decision. The other six songs are god-awful…
Ronnie: It did happen to be B&B’s decision. Not to say the other songs aren’t hits as well, but those songs are also my favorite on the album.
So now that you guys have your debut album under your belts, any plans to tour the album across the country?
Rookie: No plans for full tours now, maybe a few weekend trips around the east coast and we’ll be playing often on Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Ricky: Only time will tell.
Ronnie: For the rest of 2011 were planning on playing local and promoting our album online. There are tour talks for 2012. In the works.
I see that you guys have a few shows scheduled in the state of New York. Are you guys excited to be opening for Michael Graves (Former-Misfits singer)? Any plans on covering a few of his Misfits songs?
Rookie: Ronnie almost creamed his Levis when he found out we were opening for Graves. I am really excited, and hope he plays most of American Psycho. It would be great if we showed up and just played his set before he did.
Ricky: Sure, we’re excited. No Misfits covers however.
Ronnie: Graves is awesome, well save the covers for our Halloween show as The Ramones and let graves play the hits. I’m really psyched to hear Saturday night
Gentlemen, with so many other punk bands juggling duties in other bands in order to stay musically tuned and financially safe. Do any of The New Rochelles play in other projects that we should also be listing too?
Rookie: None of the New Rochelles play in any other bands.
Ricky: No. In fact, we don’t want you to listen to anything else besides our album from now on.
Ronnie: No punk bands are financially safe. I have a real job to pay my bills and only play in The New Rochelles.
Ok, what are your favorite pizzas, baseball teams and Skunk Ape story?
Rookie: My favorite pizza is the classic plain slice; sometimes if I am feeling adventurous I will toss some mushrooms on there. My baseball team of choice is not so popular in these parts, but I just love baseball so let’s just call me a fan of the sport. And in terms of Skunk Ape stories, as we speak Ronnie is the Florida Keys trying to hunt one down.
Ricky: A cheese slice with a mound of wheat germ on it is ideal. My favorite baseball team is the New York Mets. I’ve only heard about the elusive skunk ape through Ronnie and his song, so that’s my favorite skunk ape story.
Ronnie: My favorite pizza is a Long Island Grandma Slice. for those that are unfamiliar it’s a Sicilian style pizza that has fresh mozzarella cheese melted on the dough first then hot marinara sauce on top of that, kind of backwards. My favorite baseball team unfortunately is The New York Mets. I just returned from Florida and was unable to have a rematch with my nemesis, the skunk ape. I really wanted my shoes and jacket back.
Well it was great chatting with The New Rochelles, are there any questions that you wish I would have asked or parting words for our readers?
Rookie: Hey, Pizza!
Ricky: I just drank the grease out of the Chinese food carton. Oh, and thanks for the interview and thanks for reading!