Rocheii are an undiscovered gem that I had the pleasure of interviewing on Friday the 29th of April 2016 when they headlined at the Ferret in Preston. They combine epic, shimmering guitars with a funked up rhythm section to create a jagged, left field British pop sound. With the use of the guitars, drums and vocals they are unique. The band started in 2014 by lead singer and guitarist Calvin Roche who found band members Alex Lewis (drums), Dan Yates (lead guitarist) and Sam Mercer (bassist) online, believe or not on Gumtree. They are pictured left to right, Sam, Alex, Calvin and Dan.
Where did the name for your band come from?
Calvin – “Basically, when I was ten years old I got a really bad disease called ‘Kawasaki Syndrome‘ and I was in hospital for about a month and there was always one poster outside that said ‘Pompeii’ and it’s the only thing I remember from that and it has stuck with me since. My second name is ‘Roche’, I was always thinking about two similar things, like ‘Cold-play’ its short and snappy and the only thing that rhymed with ‘Pompeii’ was ‘Rocheii’.”
How would you describe your music?
Sam – “I’d say it’s quite poppy, but left field. It’s funky, upbeat and groovy. What would you say? (to Calvin).”
Calvin – “Early Kings Of Leon maybe.”
Sam – “Mixed with parliament, funkadlelic, something like that.”
Do you have any advice for any new budding artists?
Sam – ” Pick up an instrument, play it, practice it and invest in it. In the sense that nothing is going to come for free, don’t just think cause you’re in a band, ‘why is no one listening to me?’ ‘I am Mr. Bigshot’ no you have got to pay. You might be doing it for a year or two, you know we now have got to pay for transport, cd’s, merchandise, promotion, recording, everything. Crack on work hard. ”
Calvin – “Practice your trade. Do as much as you can, while you can.”
What is the writing process for your songs?
Calvin – “Mainly, we come up with an idea, or anyone comes up with an idea, you take it to the practice room, if everything fits, the lyrics, sound and melody, it sort of all comes together, you have to do it part by part. As long as the flow is there and the song has a natural feel to it. ‘Body language’, the single of the ep had that feel, it sort of had a funky beat all the way through out.”
Do you have any future plans – any tours and gigs?
Sam – “Well what we intend to do is loads of gigs up until June, we are going all over the show. Then after that we are going to have some downtime in July and August, we’re gonna do a music video for ‘Body Language’ our single. Then it’s back to the drawing board, and once we have everything sorted in that regard, you know got some new material, videos, take that then do a bunch of gigs.”
Who are your influences?
Dan – “Well, I think that’s the sort of thing that makes the band what it is, we all come from very different corners of the musical world, where as if we all had one similar influence our music would turn out like that influence but we all bring something different to the table, so myself there is a hard rock and metal background, Calvins’ the sort of singer/songwriter route, you know we bring all of these influences together to create something that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.”
What is the weirdest thing to have ever happened to you?
Dan – “It’s got to be the Birds nest gig. We played a gig at this three day hippie-fest essentially, over in south east London and the sound engineer had a pair of spectacles that were held together by sellotape and they only had one arm so he was constantly handicapped by the fact that he had to hold his glasses, for a start, the sound engineering equipment wasn’t the best and he played flute whilst he was engineering the set, so he couldn’t have a clear head.”
Sam – “He was doing it with his head wasn’t he.”
Calvin – “He was having a cig and playing the flute, the police drove past and he was like ‘yeah f-you police’ and all that.”
Dan – “There was a definite conflict of interests in terms of where his priorities were, engineering the gig or mouthing off at the cops. He offered his caravan to us, so that all in one was a bit of an oddball experience for us.”
How long have you been a band?
Calvin – “As we are now a year.”
Alex – “Sam has been with us for a year as the current line up, but we have known each other for two years.”
How many hours a day do you practice?
Calvin – “I think in terms of me it’s more songwriting. Me and Sam live together we won’t really practice we will just write ideas, I suppose that’s practice in itself.”
Sam – “Practicing individually probably not a lot. Personally I don’t play my bass more than hour an day. Alex teaches drums so he has to practice.”
Alex – “Yeah I probably do an hour a day.”
Dan – “Yeah between 1 to 2 a day myself.”
Where do you get your instruments from and how much did they cost?
Calvin – “It depends, my guitar I got for £100 and its worth a lot more now. I just got that luckily, it’s not cheap if you want decent instruments.”
Sam – “I would say if you have never picked up an instrument before and you start a band don’t look at the shiny Fender and go ‘I want that because it’s a grand and that make me better’ no, rubbish. If you want to learn an instrument pick up something that’s within a decent budget, we all did. My first bass, about 12 years ago was a knock off, cheapy bass guitar, work on that because it may be harder to play, but if you care for it and if want to play, you will play it.”
Dan – “In terms of cost wise, definitely look for second-hand bargains. If you want to buy an new Fender Strat guitar it will cost you about £600-£700, you could get a couple year old one for that half that if you look in the right place.”
How did you get into music?
Alex – “Well I got into music from my parents playing records round the house, but more specifically I got into the drums by going to a family friends house and just seeing the drum kit and being mesmerized by it, thinking it is the most amazing thing in the world. That’s how I started drums.”
Sam – “I am the same as you, when I was 12 my mum listened to a Stranglers record and I remember I was in the car and she said ‘You should learn the bass’ and I was like ‘ What’s that?’ and she put on ‘Peaches by the Stanglers’ and it was like *bass noises of the intro song* and I was like ‘I want to do that, so my mum bought me a bass that Christmas and that was it.”
I know you have just released one, but do you have any future plans for an album?
Sam – “Well we just released that one a few weeks ago, we have written a few more songs, that we are playing tonight. I imagine how quick we write songs there will be one later this year, September?”
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
Sam – “Damon Albarn”
Calvin – “For me it would be ‘D’Angelo’, he is just such a cool musician, you can jam with him.”
Alex – “I would probably want to collaborate with ‘Drake’.”
Dan – “I would probably collaborate with ‘Stevie Wonder’. The guy has just written so many classic songs, and I think to go in and add my guitaristical goodness to his songs, he is just a ledge.”
Was it hard getting a record deal, with your label The Animal Farm?
Calvin – “It’s not really a record deal as such, probably a guidance thing at the start. We played a gig and they came to us, I wouldn’t say go out there and push but there are bigger things happening in the pipeline, touchwood, in the future. You play gigs and if someone sees you and likes you.”
Sam – “I think it’s a kind of record label thing for someone who hasn’t played in a band, having a record label is a red herring, I would say, especially with social media and the ability to put your songs out your self, do everything yourself, I think some people think ‘oh a record deal that’s what you want cause they’ if that’s what you think, if that’s your mindset then put the guitar down and do something else, I have learnt, because I had the same mentality when I was younger and in a band. Do it yourself, be pro-active, think what you need to do, you have a record, what do you need to invest in? Go to your local uni find a graphics designer, someone who is studying social media, you know get them on board.”
If you want to listen to this spectacular band click their links. Also check out their newly released ep that features three of their original songs: Body Language, So Young and Casanova. You can purchase their ep on ITunes (album costs £2.37, individual songs are 79p), Google Play (album is £2.97 and individual songs are 99p) and Amazon (same prices as ITunes).