DES ROCS Discusses His Hard-To-Pin-Down Sound – “Very Heavily Influenced By A Wide Range Of Rock Artists…And Non-Rock Artists”
July 28, 2020, 6 months ago
By and large, rock and metal has become quite one-dimensional nowadays. Which makes the presence of such up-and-comers as Des Rocs most welcoming – who can indeed rock most ferociously at times…but refuses to disallow other musical forms from entering his style and approach.
And in case you were wondering about the origin of his unusual name, the New York-based singer/multi-instrumentalist describes it as “Des Rocks is a bizarre-o world version of my own name, which is Danny Rocco.” Fair enough.
Des spoke with BraveWords corresponded Greg Prato about his latest single/video, “Wayne,” why he opts to release singles rather than albums, and how it is to be living in NYC during these strange times.
BraveWords: I read that you’re a trained classical violinist - how did you make the transition to rock music?
Des Rocs: “I was a little kid, and I just wanted to play any instrument growing up. So, I saw people in orchestras in the middle school playing violin, and I begged my mom to play violin. In second grade, I started playing violin. Over the years, I became obsessed with rock music and got into all this different stuff. It was just so obvious what I was doing couldn’t convey the kind of emotions and songs that I wanted to write. So, around seventh grade, I started playing guitar and the violin took a serious backseat after that.”
BraveWords: I’ve notice that you favor issuing songs one by one as you complete them - rather than release full-length albums, right?
Des Rocs: “Yeah. And it’s not necessarily in order of completion. But I do just love releasing single after single after single – that I can just continue to pick the evolution of the music, and not just be constrained by certain formats.”
BraveWords: Do you think that’s the future for most recording artists?
Des Rocs: “Yeah. I think that future is already here, to be honest. Just not so much in rock music. Every other genre of music has just said, ‘Fuck the release format. We’re just going to do whatever we want.’ And rock is strangely the last one to that party – when rock used to be the forerunner of bucking any kind of trend or norm.”
BraveWords: By doing that, it’s putting the power into the artists’ hands.
Des Rocs: “Totally. You can release a single and have it pop up completely independently – and not need to be completely tied down in your rights. So, it’s a powerful thing.”
BraveWords: Who are your favorite rock artists and influences?
Des Rocs: “Very heavily influenced by a wide range of rock artists…and non-rock artists. Some of the earliest strains DNA musically are formed in the classic world, and then I really became cognizant of Queen, Led Zeppelin, the Talking Heads, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley. And then got a little older and started getting into the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and everything in that early 2000’s New York scene. And was also swimming around in a whole lot of Long Island emo stuff, like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and on the other side of the water in New Jersey, My Chemical Romance. So, there’s a ton of wide-ranging influences – everyone from classic to rock, to even dance and hip-hop.”
BraveWords: You just released a video for the track “Wayne,” which was recorded on February 28, 2020 - just before the lockdown started and music venues closed.
Des Rocs: “It was days before. It was show 30 of a 31 show tour. We wanted to get a camera crew, because it’s a beautiful theater to film in. We filmed the whole show…and then it turns out all the footage got deleted! I thought the show was lost for a long time, and then out of the blue, it turned out that all the footage was actually on my drummer’s hard drive. So, we were able to save everything, and took the little bit that we had left and cut together this live video for ‘Wayne.’”
BraveWords: Did you have any idea at that point that live music was about to stop?
Des Rocs: “I had no idea. We heard whispers of things happening, but I was on planes in early March, and I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what happened.”
BraveWords: You’re based in New York City.
Des Rocs: “It’s pretty crazy, but I do think people are less afraid then they were. In March when everything was just a ghost town, it was a pervasive culture of fear – that I think is no longer there. And now, people have adjusted to ‘the new normal.’”
BraveWords: You filmed a video for the song “Used To The Darkness,” which was shot right around that time in NYC.
Des Rocs: “It was bizarre – it was right before everything was totally shut down for good. I didn’t know how long this was going to last, and I wanted to see if I could create a cool little piece to help raise some money for hospital workers. So, we went into Times Square at night – it was completely empty – and we filmed that little acoustic video.”
BraveWords: Let’s discuss a few of your hardest rocking tracks, starting with “Let Me Live/Let Me Die.”
Des Rocs: “‘Let Me Live/Let Me Die’ is one of the first records I put out when I started Des Rocks in 2018. That one I was just kind of trying to get my music heard. I was coming out of this other band and I was in this really weird spot, where I was just trying to get above the noise, and I was dealing with all this industry bullshit. I remember going to this little studio that I had in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and being like, ‘Fuck it – just let me live or just let me die.’ It was kind of a proclamation of exasperation in this pretty intense and dramatic way. That entire song just poured out of me in like, 60 minutes – from start to finish. I didn’t re-track a single drum part or bass part or guitar part or vocal. All the original stuff is just that demo from that night. It’s one of my favorite records to perform.”
BraveWords: What about “Outta My Mind?”
Des Rocs: “‘Outta My Mind’ is kind of a similar story, where I just sat down…I make all my records just at my computer – mostly alone. I sat down at my computer and the entire song came out ‘as is,’ in the span of 60 minutes. Honestly, when it just flows like that, those are some of the purest, truest records. And records that take me a day to make – versus a record I pick apart for two or three years – there’s no comparison, as far as the authenticity and purity of the vision.”
BraveWords: And the song “SLO.”
Des Rocs: “‘SLO’ is an interesting one, because I had the whole idea as a voice note in my head. And there’s a recording I have it buried somewhere on my phone, where I’m just singing the whole song through. And then I have the whole song, but I had nothing on wax. So, I just needed to spend the next few weeks recording the voice note, and I was just referencing back and forth, back and forth – all the drum fills, all the hits, all the syncopations, everything – and just recreated this voice note that was initially in my head, and then, singing a song.”
BraveWords: What are some memories of opening for the Rolling Stones and also Muse?
Des Rocs: “Man, there are so many memories of both. I think the most important take away is being that they just the nicest guys in the world – both bands. Just playing songs in rooms that you initially envisioned those songs being in – when you had zero streams on Spotify and zero Instagram followers. But you just had an idea of what you wanted to do. And seeing it end up in an arena or a football stadium a year and a half after that was the most beautiful takeaway from those experiences.”
BraveWords: Future plans?
Des Rocs: “The future plans are very numerous. Always constantly planning the future and constantly working on records that maybe won’t come out for two or three or four years from now. I have a very specific vision for the way in which Des Rocs evolves – as far as the music is concerned and as far as the live experience is concerned. We have a whole lot to come through.”