Our Spotlight Series continues with this illuminating and inspirational interview with Joe Rock, one of Long Islands most prolific and colorful performers. Joe is a great example of how local musicians can manage a successful music career using grass roots campaigning, social media and great networking skills. He portrays an image that is professional and confident. As one of the movers and shakers of the Long Island music scene, we were proud to present his profile here. It is our sincere desire that others will be inspired by his words and insights. See the end of the article for important links for this artist.
May you be inspired!
LBFH: At what age were you attracted to music?
JR: I can remember being interested in The Beatles and Elvis and other bands as early as Third Grade.
LBFH: Were you encouraged to develop your musical abilities?
JR: My brother George and sister Virginia encouraged my interest in music.
LBFH: Were you an artistic child?
JR: I was very creative and even voted most imaginative in a summer school program as a kid.
LBFH: Did you study music?
JR: No I never did.
LBFH: What bands/artists were among your earliest influences?
JR: Elvis, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
LBFH: What was your first instrument?
JR: I started on the drums.
LBFH: What did you have to do to get it?
JR: I delivered Pennysavers to make the money.
LBFH: Can you remember your first experience on stage?
JR: My first stage experience was like I finally found where I belonged.
LBFH: What was the first band setting you ever played in?
JR: It was a garage band that focused on what today you would call Americana. We just called it rock N’ roll. We thought we were better than we were .
LBFH: At what point did you know that you wanted to be a professional musician?
JR: never really thought about it in those terms. I just started playing gigs and woke up one day and realized I was playing about 5 or 6 times a week.
LBFH: Was it hard to find other serious like minded musicians?
JR: It was and is and will always be. The players who feel the way I do are there. The guys in my band and the fill in players I use all have the same mind set. But people and priorities change. It is a hard job leading a band. especially my band that is primarily a 4 piece but we go up to 10 pieces and do corporate events.
LBFH: What sacrifices did you make along the way?
JR: I sacrificed a few relationships, some stability that friends have. But I gained a happiness from doing what I truly want to do.
LBFH: How much time daily/weekly do you spend writing new music? JR: can’t define it by that. I can be inspired to write and work a few hours a day until I write this thing that insists it must be written. Then I may not write again for months. I am a lazy artist and writer. If the subject hasn’t grabbed me by the throat and insisted upon being written I will ignore it until it does.
LBFH: Can you describe your studio/creative space?
JR: My basement/man cave/ studio is a comfortable spot. It is set up like a living room that happens to be full of guitars and amps and drums and sound equipment. It has tons of CD’s and records, yes RECORDs. Lots of rock memorabilia line the walls and shelves. It has an internet radio so I can listen to stations from around the world. I am a music fan and musician. I feel the 2 must go together. My music is me expressing myself in the terms that were set forward by the artists who reached me. That is reflected in my studio.
LBFH: What equipment do you use?
JR: My main guitar is an 1988 Fender Telecaster, one of the first Japanese made Fenders. I usually play through a Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket. I am a Rhythm Guitar player and proud of it. I pound my guitar. Thats why I use D’addario Light Top Heavy Bottom 10 gauge strings. They stand up to the abuse. I also have a Hard Tail late 70’s Strat, a Les Paul Studio, a Roger McGuinn signature 12 String Rickenbacker, a Washburn Mandolin and an assortment of acoustic guitars.
LBFH: How much time do you spend developing your own unique sound?
JR: I don’t try to do anything just to be different. I do what sounds good to me at the time. I describe my band as being Rock, Blues, Rockabilly, Punk and General Mayhem. If I like a song I like it. I’ve written blues, country, rock, rockabilly. I hate when people do something that they don’t connect to just so they can be different. If you don’t feel it don’t do it.
LBFH: What do you enjoy the most about performing?
JR: I do a very audience interactive show. I love that connection when the audience gets where I want to take them and they let me be their guide. I also appreciate if they let me know where they wanna go and will still let me be the guide if they’ve communicated that to me.
LBFH: What do you enjoy the least about performing?
JR: Packing up after the gig (laughs)
LBFH: do you feel the industry has changed over the past 2 decades?:
JR: The music business is returning to it’s past. Bands need to focus more on writing good songs and doing good shows. There is just so damn much music out there and I can’t even begin to tell you how much of it is just unlistenable. Bands that would have tried to put out albums with lots of filler. That made for albums that had only 1 or 2 good songs. Now with easy downloadable music if you write only 1 good song you can release it to download by itself with no filler. Like the 45’s of old. Bands are making more money off their live shows these days. If you’re not good live, forget it.
LBFH: What are the most significant changes?
JR: To me a record deal is nothing to shoot for anymore. That was the old grail. These days you need to be a business man, a marketing pro, an electronics whiz, musician and a showman. There used to be people to do all those different things for you. No more, now it’s all you. It almost makes me feel like that bunny in the Energizer commercial where I can never stop because if I stop for a second my gig schedule may not be as full as it is today.
LBFH: What are your views on social media and how it impacts you as an artist?
JR: Social Media is a helpful tool. It helps me get information and songs and videos in front of people who might like it. It helps me inform my friends and fans about upcoming shows on their phones which is where everybodies attention is these days. It is just a tool though. I can get people to come out for a show but if I don’t have a good show to give them when they get there it was a waste.
LBFH: Do you feel that your work promotes the arts and music in the community?
JR: That is part of my goal. I always try to work with other artists and for good charitable causes. I have been a supporter of music and education together. I try to use the time that people are listening to me to tell them about the things I think are important.
LBFH: How would you like to see music and arts evolve locally?
JR: I’d like to see more community events that involve all different forms of art. I’d like to see poets, musicians, painters, dancers and any other artists doing combined shows that are sponsored by towns and villages for their residents. These events could even be done some times as fund raisers. It is important to remember though that artists need to be paid. I would never expect a carpenter to come and work for me without pay, why should anybody expect that from a working artist?
LBFH: How do you maintain relationships with other artists in the community?
JR: I love seeing other great bands around the area. I try and make shows when I’m off. I also invite many other musicians to come and sit in at my shows. I love the collaborative spirit when you get to work with someone you don’t normally work with. It’s the excitement of going where you didn’t expect to end up. If I support them, they will support me in return. There are selfish artists out there who would never consider going to another persons show. It becomes apparent who they are and I end up not returning to their shows.
LBFH: What do you hope to leave behind you? JR: People saying “Damn that was fun, let’s do that again!!!”
LBFH: How do you think people view you as an artist?
JR: I don’t think a lot of people actually see me as an artist. I’m mostly known for my cover music and not for my original music. I have to thank the Montauk Music Festival and Peconic Public Broadcasting for helping me get my own music out there. I think people just see me as an entertainer. I’m ok with that, but it isn’t the whole story. I do songwriter nights from time to time. If you want to know about me as an artist attend one of them.
LBFH: What advice would you give to someone who was looking to get into the music business?
JR: You better love it. It will break your heart. It will be unfair. I try to remember this quote from Bruce Springsteen “I think every night before I go on stage that this is the most important thing I do and, it’s only Rock N’ Roll”. That kind of really sums it up for me. I would be very unhappy if I didn’t do music. Do it because you have to and accept that it is part of your heart and soul. If you want to earn money doing this, IT IS HARD. Don’t do it, but if that doesn’t stop you, welcome, you belong with us!!!
LBFH: What’s next for you?
JR: I just keep working on higher profile shows with artists who I respect. Back in May I got to sit in with Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes. Having been a fan for 30 plus years that was great. Now I’m trying to set up doing a show opening for them. In June I got to do a show with CJ Ramone, Richie Cannata, Jay Jay French, Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister along with Randy Jackson of Zebra and Joe Franco and John Gatto of The Good Rats all in one night. I just want to build on those gigs and get more like that.
What projects/events would you like to tell our readers about? My band Joe Rock and The All Stars are just constantly playing.
Check us out online at www.ReverbNation.com/JoeRockNY www.facebook.com/JoeRockNYwww.Twitter.com/JoeRockWBAB and www.Instagram.com/JoeRockNY and join us at any show. I promise it will be a damn good time!!!