From the funky beats of The Roots, to the vocal prowess of Stevie Wonder, to the fierceness of Queen Bey, New York’s indie-soul sextet The Rooks are a perfect combination of all the right things.
Garth Taylor (vox), Louis Russo (bass), Gabe Gordon (keys), Nate Mondschein (drums), Spencer Hattendorf (sax) and Graham Richman (guitar) all met at Wesleyan University as undergrads. After years of running in the same social circles, and overlapping into various musical endeavors, the guys formed The Rooks in late 2011. They recorded a brief set of studio singles in early 2012, and just released their first EP this past summer.
Now, they are living in NYC as “salaried humans,” says Taylor, with legitimate jobs as teachers, lawyers, and something that Taylor and Mondschein are unclear on, but agree is some form of “financial sorcery” and trying to make this music thing happen.
Their five-song EP, Something You Can Take, is a collection of jazzy, poetic numbers about swooning over that certain someone. All the songs are a reflection of the group as a whole as Mondschein explains, “Everyone on some level is involved in the song, but in varying capacities.” Whether one person brings an idea to rehearsal, or they all develop it together in improvisational jam sessions, the goal is the same: “To find a balance between putting out a cohesive, artistic product, but one that also shows the different sides of our sound,” Mondschein continues.
They call themselves ‘The Rooks’ because they are rookies to the industry, and like a rook, they are looking to strategically move forward. Their next move is to tour through Connecticut, New York and DC. Then they plan on recording more material in December. After that, Taylor says, half jokingly, it’s on to stardom and Grammys.
“I think before we even knew what the name of our band was, I told everyone that by the time I’m 25 I need to have a Grammy in my hand. I need to be holding it; it needs to be on my shelf, that’s it. Recently I have made the caveat that it doesn’t need to be a real Grammy, like someone can make it for me at the mall, that’s also fine. But I need to have it,” Taylor jokes.
Joking aside, the guys are making moves, and creating a sound that this generation of music is missing. The Rooks’ main goal is, Taylor says, “Definitely within the next few years we want to be seeing new faces and sharing our music with as many people as we can.“
HOMETOWN: NYC via Middletown, CT
GENRE: Indie Soul
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Balancing collaborative writing and improv.