Interview with Team Rockit
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Where was each of you born?
Joe – Chicago
Dave – Chicago
Matt – Melrose Park
DK: What was each of your childhood like growing up?
Joe – with a lot of angst, I got in trouble a lot, and got some of the aggression out early
Matt – not necessarily a bad upbringing, but I had a single parent. My mom was pretty supportive of the music thing and I was definitely about not conforming if I could avoid it.
Dave – dysfunctional
DK: When did each of you start playing your drums, guitars and bass?
Joe – guitar at 11
Dave – guitar (then to bass later) at 12
Matt – drums at 13 (but played piano first and then saxophone in the school band before the drums)
DK: Did anyone take any lessons?
Besides Joe, everyone took lessons in the band.
Matt – I had a great teach named Joe Fink who played in Studebacker John and the Hawks. He was a real inspiration at the time.
DK: Exactly when did Team Rockit form?
DK: I understand there were some lineup changes through the course of Team Rockit’s existence, who made up the band when it was formed?
Joe and Amber formed the band initially while Matt, the drummer, booked gigs for them from New York where he lived. At that time, at the beginning, they had a revolving door of drummers for gigs.
DK: How has the lineup changed over the years and why?
Amber was in the band with Joe and Matt until 2001. She played on both “The Mirror” and “Hell on Wheels” The reason why that initially fell apart was that Amber wasn’t that into touring that much and here’s a huge key to keeping a band together DON’T DATE ANYONE IN THE BAND. After that TEAM ROCKIT (Matt and Joe) found Mark. Mark contributed a lot until he left recently in July of 2006. He did a lot for the website, played on and helped promote “Duck Duck Goose” and also played on the new record “The Lowest Point In Rock N’ Roll History”. We went on a lot of great tours with Mark. His recent departure had to do with the promotion of his girlfriend’s band. We didn’t feel it was necessary to help promote her with all out stuff as it was completely different music. He freaked out and became a totally different person. Maybe we had just squeezed enough out of him and it was time for him to go, but do you see a running theme here?….girlfriends and bands don’t mix. We have Dave now and are pretty happy. He’s young and is breathing a new life into the band, on top of being super energetic on stage. We think TEAM ROCKIT has 9 lives and this is only #3!!!
DK: Now, Joe, I know you’re musical history dates back to the 80’s with you and your brother (Nick’s) band Maelstrom. What other bands were each of you in prior to Team Rockit?
Joe – Buckwild, Charlie’s Pipe Dream, Cyborg Rebels, and the Rock N’ Roll Abortions
Matt – Poster Children, Fractasm (waaay back in high school), Victory Bowl (with Bob Rising who was in Seam, Poster Children, and Hardvark), and the metal band Salent.
Dave – Cry for Dawn, Froggie Moon, Gutter Star, Cyborg Rebels.
DK: Dave Damask is your latest addition to the band, when did he officially join and how is he doing?
Dave officially joined in July 2006. His first gig he had to learn a million songs for a festival gig. It went well and we’re enthusiastic about willingness to go on the road. We’re whipping his ass into shape to get tighter with us.
DK: Your album entitled “The Lowest Point in Rock-N-Roll History” was released last year in September. How have the responses been from your fans?
Yeah “last year” if this is coming out in 2007. The record came out in September 2006. We’ve had the best reaction yet to a new TEAM ROCKIT album, but there was a lot more marketing and PR done for this record. A lot more positive press thus far that has translated into more positive reaction from the fans. They like the look of the new record and the new videos!
DK: How do you feel with Team Rockit’s growth over these past years?
You can always be doing better, but I’m satisfied that with every release as we’ve progressively reached new plateaus (be it CD sales, reviews, more gigs, more territories, etc.). Every album gets better with wider promotion and we continue to hone our live shows. That’s really important to this band. Being good live.
DK: You’ve made a couple videos that you’ve included on this latest CD as well. Are you finding that videos are becoming more of a focus for you than ever before?
DEFINITELY…the power of TV is amazing and with the invention of youtube.com it’s even more accessible for people to see your video. We love that.
DK: Live performances, Team Rockit seems to play out quite a bit, but within the past year or so, you’ve branched out to Germany. How did that come about?
Matt – I used to work for BMG International in Munich as a product manager. During my time over there, I strung together some indie rock contacts. From there I brought a band over that was on Universal that I managed (The Churchills). When the time was right, I decided to bring my own band over. Because I can speak the language, it seemed like a logical place to start to break into the European market.
DK: Matt, you were quoted in saying that you’ve been doing Team Rockit mainly out of the love of performing. Is that where you (as a band) find the greatest rewards?
Absolutely, it’s fun cutting a good track in the studio for a record, but live is where it’s at. I always tell people that my favorite bands are bands that deliver something more than what’s on the CD. Bands like the Figgs and The Jesus Lizard (when they were around) were always amazing live. You never knew what was going to happen and I like to think we bring a little element of that to TEAM ROCKIT.
DK: What is your live show like?
Intense, tight, and full of energy. Dave and Joe fly off the bass drum and find anything to climb on most of the time. It’s worth the price of admission.
DK: Is there an “official” philosophy for Team Rockit and if so, what would that be?
Don’t wait for something to happen…DO IT. We’re not waiting for someone to “recognize us”, although that would be nice. We make records because we want to, even if you like them or not (alla Guided By Voices initial records). We feel we’re building a phenomenon and when/if it gets big enough, people come sniffing and eventually someone or some company gobbles it up to mass market it in a bigger way. The Poster Children always refer to “the golden nugget” and how bands are trying to find this mystical thing while getting disappointed along the way. I like that way of thinking. You have to enjoy what you do first, regardless of the results.
DK: Is there a specific sound or vein of music that you want yourselves to fit right into?
Not necessarily, but if there’s something that sells and we happen to fit right in that genre, we’ll take it! Seriously, a lot of people have compared is to a cross between Foo Fighters, The Hives, and The Figgs (we LOVE the Figgs). So like Rock meets punk meets pop..meets almost indie rock at times….or something like that.
DK: Does each of you write songs and lyrics?
Joe writes the majority of the songs and lyrics, but we all have written songs and lyrics and perform at least one song from each person.
DK: Matt, in addition to Team Rockit, are you still also with Poster Children? If so, how do you manage two bands at a time?
I guess I’m still “in” the Poster Children, but we haven’t done anything in a few years as Rose and Rick in that band had a child and are now busy being parents, which is totally cool. I’ve been focusing on TEAM ROCKIT for quite some time now. I think it’s enough to manager a day job at times, booking, management, etc. I don’t even know how people could be in multiple bands if they had to take care of all the “extra” stuff too!
DK: What have been some of the proudest achievements that each of you have accomplished in your musical careers?
Matt – organizing and completing three flawless tours in Germany AND opening for The Breeders on the west coast with Poster Children to 1500 people a night!
Joe – playing the first gig in Germany the first time we were on tour there with 5 encores! And playing at the Metro with Charlie’s Pipe Dream for the record release show.
Dave – playing two shows in one day while in Cry for Dawn.
DK: What are some of the goals you each hope to accomplish personally, professionally and as a band?
Joe – having enough money to buy a really cool car, killer guitars, and possibly a small house in Georgia.
– to go on tour 3/4ths of the year.
– to make enough money at this thing to not need a day job.
As a band…
We’d like to be able to sell out the Metro, continue making records, get on a decent size tour, and possibly get our music licensed to a well-know TV program or film. We’ve already been licensed to MTV’s “My Sweet 16”…those are GREAT opportunities for income.
DK: What has been one of the more effective means of promotion that you’ve noticed?
And opening for bigger bands. Playing 9 shows in 10 days in Germany definitely helps thing while being able to see sizeable growth at the end of the tour (mailing list, CD sales, feedback from fans)
DK: What do you think of websites like Rehearsals.com, YouTube.com and MySpace.com?
They are great networking tools, but too many people get wrapped up in the virtual world. I think promoting out on the street and meeting people is still very important, although just getting out and playing is super important as well.
DK: Joe, having been in the industry for approximately 20 years or so now (give or take), do you feel things have improved for musicians over the years or worsened and why?
Well, it’s both better and worse at the same time. The internet kills record sales, but it’s a great promotional tool. It’s a double edged sword. Playing conditions are about the same, but maybe they treat me a little bit better because I’m an old rocker now.
DK: What does 2007 have in store for you?
Another video (for “Carbombs”), another European tour at the end of June (we have some great festival dates lined up over there), more regional touring from Jan-March. We feel we have at least a good year or two to promote “The Lowest Point In Rock N’ Roll History”….the record is still very young and we want everyone to know about it. Go here to buy it http://www.cdbaby.com/teamrockit3 CHEERS!!
Well, I’d like to thank you very much for your time and wish nothing but great success for you all!