The Rooks,
The TVD First Date

“My grandfather was a Latin-Jazz trumpet player whose side-hustle (which later became his main hustle) was as the owner and manager of a custom shirt store around the corner from Grand Central. Among the many customers who frequented his shop, a decent portion of the business came from making costumes for a number of Broadway shows. In return, he would often receive tickets to performances, as well as cast recordings of their soundtracks.”

“Growing up, my mother had what at the time seemed to be a giant cabinet beneath the base of our TV, filled to the edges with vinyl. About half were those soundtracks her father had passed down, or those she had managed to ‘borrow’ without bothering to return. The rest were a bizarrely eclectic mix of funk, folk, classical, blue-eyed-soul, and the occasional glam-rock. Some of my earliest memories, and some my strongest moments of early connection with my mother involved us dancing around our apartment to genre-bending medleys of Earth Wind & Fire, Itzhak Perlman, Kenny Loggins, and Fiddler on the Roof, trying our best to land on our toes to keep the record from jumping (we were rarely successful).

At a certain point, cassettes took over as our go-to dance soundtracks. Skip ahead a little further and I’m downloading questionable Mp3 rips of Blink 182 albums and not dancing in front of anyone. By that time, my mother’s record player sat in the basement with a broken needle, only occasionally coming up in conversation with a casual “I should really get that fixed sometime.”

It wasn’t until the end of high school that I began to dig in heavily on the notion of an album as an artistic statement, started doing my homework, and ranting at the dinner table about all the classics she was raised on as if they were my own. Eventually, my mom offered to let me take the record player and a few favorites from her collection off to college with me.

I feel like that’s the point in the story where I’m supposed to dive headlong into the crates, and start digging for all the deep cuts, and end up with a library full of B-Sides, but it never worked out that way. The first album I purchased with my own money was Abbey Road. The first album I hunted for was Voodoo. The best steal I ever got was a $3 Sign o’ the Times from a throwaway crate during a street sale. It’s always been less about the “collector” side of things for me, and more about the event that is listening through an album front-to-back. There’s a cinematic quality to it, a pre-ordained order of events that gets lost with an iPod. An album is forty, fifty, sixty minutes worth of shared experience with every other person who kicked back to that record before you, who set the needle in the same place, and changed the side at the same time. And the sense of connection that comes from that shared experience, or the mutual nostalgia for it after its gone…I think that’s the reason people keep making LPs.

We’ve talked a lot within the Rooks about the importance of making a product whose value extends beyond each individual song, something that makes a distinct artistic statement when considered as a whole. I think that ideology is very rooted in the tradition and of vinyl: valuing the big picture, the greater experience of a creative project, even within a culture that’s so fixated on the singles. That’s something we are constantly considering and striving to accomplish.

Since he stopped playing years ago, my grandpa doesn’t talk much about the music he used to listen to. But a few years back, he moved out of the home he had raised my mother in, and left us with many of the excess belongings to sift through or discard. Among them were three crates worth of dust-coated vinyl, everything from Satchmo to Paul McCartney, far more eclectic than I ever gave his taste credit for. For the first time, I had a window into a part of his life that had informed so much of my own, despite how rarely it was openly discussed.

And that’s what it all really comes down to, that tacit connection made possible by a 12” grooved disc. I started writing this piece while listening to my mother’s Paul Simon Greatest Hits. Now, it’s my Grandfather’s Miles Ahead. Then maybe I’ll switch back to that copy of Voodoo I finally picked up last summer. Three generations living in a single room for two hours. It’s an incredible experience. And the possibility to be a facilitator of that, to in some way provide that kind of link between people otherwise separated by time, by location, that’s one of the most exciting things a band could ever hope to accomplish.”
Nate Mondschein, drums

The Rooks play NYC’s Mercury Lounge this Saturday night (9/27) with Paperdoll. Tickets are available here!

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