Jeff Rockker - 10 Questions Music Interview
Jeff Rockker's music is a pledge of allegiance to classic rock music. His sound is drenched in the sweat of the big and beloved bands of the 70's and 80's like AC/DC, The Cult, and Iggy Pop. Rockker represents the resurgence of "bigger than life" rock, of the days when stadiums were filled with Rock Gods. Hailed as the second coming of the Rock Star, Rockker's tracks have been played on webradios, reviewed in the pages of webzines, and included in playlists around the world. His first single,"Die Bitch!", was included in a rock sampler that distributed 10,000 copies in France!
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
There were 2 events that motivated me to start writing music for the Jeff Rockker project. First, the death of Lemmy Kilminster, on the 28th of December 2015. When I heard the news, I thought: "Wow, no more Motörhead!." Second, the "Rock Or Bust" AC/DC concert at the Paris Stade de France, in May 2015. That night, I was working late in the city, and as I got in the subway after my shift, I was surprised to discover that the wagons were filled with AC/DC fans. People of all generations! Some of them sported the band's T-shirts, others wore Angus Young's flashing red horns on top of their heads. Everyone had stars in their eyes (me included)! I said to myself: "man, these great old bands, that everybody still love, are about to disappear and there isn't really anyone to take over after them. Who knows exactly how long AC/DC is going to last? And what exactly happened to the Mötley Crüe guys? Etc... It was that night, in the train towards the suburbs, that I created the Jeff Rockker concept! Classic rock/hard rock, updated!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I was born and raised in Paris, France. At some point I decided to move to Los Angeles, California, and check out the scene. There, I became a member of various rock bands with whom I eventually played with in all the famous L.A. clubs. I remember, for example, being on the stage of the legendary Sunset Boulevard Whisky A Go Go on a Friday night and saying to myself (as you know by now , I like talk to myself a lot - I'm a good listener!): "Dude, you're standing at the exact same spot where Jim Morrisson stood back in the 60's!" What were the odds?! When I was in the Big Orange, I also got to meet my all time rock heroes! All the guys who graced the posters that were pinned to the walls of my room when I was a teenager: Robert Plant, Ray Manzarek, Gene Simmons (who tried to pick up my girlfriend - and failed - even Gene Simmons can't beat Jeff Rockker!), Mick Mars (A.K.A Filthy McNasty), the guys from Iron Maiden, Rob Trujillo, Chester Bennington, Zoltán Báthory, etc. I also got to meet the original Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) and Tony Montana (Al Pacino).
What has been the high point of your music path?
I once had the opportunity to get a few of my songs mastered (in-person) at Bernie Grundman's studios in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman's is the place where some of the biggest albums in history were mastered: Michael Jackson's Thriller, Eminem's Slim Shady, Van Halen's IV, etc... The multi-platinum albums were displayed in the lobby and you could see the original tapes stacked in blue plastic containers scattered about the studio floor. Did I die and go to Heaven?
Another high point in my music path was writing and recording a single that appeared on a rock sampler that distributed 10,000 copies in France. That song was called "Die Bitch!"which is still on my live show song-list. It is really a fun, tongue in cheek, little track. My sweet and beautiful wife, Lili, likes to pretend that I wrote it for her. I can assure you that it's not the case. I actually wrote it as I was watching a talk show on french TV that featured a really evil woman. This person happened to be a female, but it could have been a male just the same. As far as I'm concerned, the term "bitch" can apply to both sexes!
I was also psyched about getting my ASCAP membership card. Symbolically speaking, it put me in the same league as all the major artists I admire. I won an ASCAP "Popular Music Songwriter Award", which was pretty cool!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
The process is less interesting than the final result. Fans don't cheer and shout at the process at a concert, now do they?! When I write a song, I almost always start with something I really want to say. With a message I want to pass on to you. Unless I just want to fool around... Once this message is articulated in the form of a text, all I have to do is try to figure out the chords and the beat that correspond to the natural music and rhythm of the words. Are you bored yet?.. It's often a painful process. But it's also a rewarding one! They say artists are people who create in order to send a message through their work; to spark controversy or simply to provoke a feeling in the person observing their work. I can only hope I'm successful in doing all that. For me, that's what real success is.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
No big challenge! Now is actually a fantastic time to be an indie artist! Thanks to the web, a French singer/guitarist/songwriter like me can have people listen to his music all the way to Australia. Unreal!! My songs have been played on web radio stations and my EP has been reviewed in the pages of web-zines all over the world! My tracks have also been included in several Spotify playlists. And I'm just getting started. How awesome is that?!
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Ghost! Just because they look incredible! And because their sound reminds me of the 80's bands I love. "I wanna be /I wanna bewitch you...", the first time I heard Dance Macabre, I thought it was Reo Speedwagon! The Weekend too, for the same reason- did somebody say Duran Duran?! Another artist would be Jim Morrison. At the time he was wild. He would start riots in the crowd during Doors concerts. He even got arrested by the police while on stage several times. Now, that's Rock'n'Roll!! He was an incredible performer and it would have been great to share the limelight with him.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I never rehearse! ... Just kidding!! I work hard because I wanna be good at what I do. "If you wanna be a singer or play guitar / Man you've gotta sweat or you won't get far!" (God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You - Kiss). Paradoxically, I don't consider music to be an "exact science." As a result, my live shows tend to be just a little bit loose. When I was recording my first EP "Stronger!,"my then producer, Seb Bonnet, would say: "This bridge could sound better. We should redo it" and I would say: "No, it's fine. We're not recording jazz or classic music. It's rock. It doesn't have to be perfect!" Eventually though, we ended up redoing that bridge, you know how producers are?! But my music is designed to speak to the soul, not to the mind!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
When I set out to write,"Stronger", (the song after which the EP is named), I wanted it to define the true essence of the rock music genre, to explore the very the bottom of the rocker's soul. I ended up rewriting the lyrics like 10 times! Furthermore, I originally wrote it in the wrong key. For those of us who are not musicians, there is a certain range in which a singer's voice sounds good. If the notes he or she has to sing are too high, he or she will sound like a strangled cat. On the other hand, if the notes are too low, the final result will sound rather week and boring. So I had to switch the chords a couple of times around until I got it right. You learn by making mistakes and, hopefully, not making them again. Wishful thinking?... It turned out to be an all-consuming project. "I can feel it burning 'side of me..." - Stronger, Jeff Rockker.
What's coming up in the future?
I am making secret plans to take over the world... mWahahaha, mUahahaha! So I can't really talk about them. Let's just say that they involve recording 4 studio LPs, one will be acoustic, and the other will be a live album. Most of the material is already written. I'd also like to collaborate with different producers who can push me around musically and help me make my sound the very best it can be. Anyone interested? As a reward, I'll let you rule whichever country you choose!!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
You can find Jeff Rockker's music on all the platforms. You can also follow me on the social networks. But mostly, I'd like you to come to my live shows, so we can have a hell of a good time together! If you'd like to give me your feedback on this interview, do not hesitate to do so. I certainly hope it was fun for you to read. Your observations and remarks are always welcome. Rockker is your band as much as it is mine. I'll see you around. Keep calm and rock on! Peace.
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