What’s it like being back in Exeter?
We haven’t been here that long but it’s been great so far. We took a trip to the graveyard that we really like over there – it’s beautiful. We said hello to some of our homies over there; they gave us sandwiches which was pretty cool. So far so good.
What do you like about Exeter and Cavern?
We like the kids, man. We kinda like the younger shows that we play. We do this for the kids. It’s the only town that we play where it’s mostly college kids. We played our last show here with the Xcerts early this year and that was awesome. We got trashed on some Scottish blend whisky; there was a dog outside the van and Tanner was covered in his own vomit. We almost lost him that night; it was pretty wild.
Do you prefer the more intimate shows?
We like them all, man: club shows, theatre shows, birthday parties, funerals. I like the size of this room (the van).
Does it feel good to be coming back as the headlining act rather than the support band?
Yeah it’s cool, there have been fans wearing our t-shirts, fist bumping, it’s cool man. It’s all quite surreal still.
“People are people. When the music hits you feel no pain.”
You guys are from America, what are the crowds like in the US compared to the UK?
I like to say we are from planet Earth. We are all together. I don’t really like the border thing. Who draws those lines, let’s be honest? But, people ask us that a lot, and people are people, man. Wherever you go. You could say the hospitality is better here, maybe people are more interested because we are American I dunno, but really overall people are people. When the music hits you feel no pain.
Moving on to your song-writing process. Do you write songs on the road or in the studio mostly?
I’m kinda always writing lyrics and then when we can have an extended sound check like today. The songs that feel the most natural are kinda created in the same room; electric and everything but I mostly write on an acoustic guitar, just a bunch of country songs and stuff.
Some bands have pre-gig rituals. Do you have any of your own?
Maybe a shot, maybe a toke. Lately I’ve just been looking at the setlist and paying attention to it. We’ve really tried to be adults lately, it’s weird. There are ways to get psyched I guess. We listen to some Metallica, although we don’t have anything specific. We just try and get in the zone. Sometimes if we’ve had a couple of drinks we’ll do some pushups and get real manly.
Are you hoping to do an encore tonight?
I don’t think that’s up to us. It’s kinda a weird thing to headline because pretty much every show this tour, I think we’ve gotten encores but we are still perfecting the encore. If there’s no backstage then you kinda walk offstage into the crowd and hang out.
What are your favourite songs to play live?
Metallica, ‘School’ by Nirvana. Lately I’ve really enjoyed playing our song ‘Mom Jeans’. I used to hate it but lately I love it man. It gets everyone moving; it’s probably the softest part of the set.
It’s good when you can control a crowd with a slower song.
Yeah, I like it when a band shows a vulnerable side, especially when they’re pretty heavy.
“I really dig blacked out venues downstairs. This reminds me of a lot of some of the venues back home – it’s cool.”
What’s your favourite venue to play in the UK?
We played Koko once. We were so lucky to play there, like it’s not even fair. The Cavern is great too, man. I really dig blacked out venues downstairs. This reminds me of a lot of some of the venues back home – it’s cool.
Which bands have influenced you?
All of them. Led Zeppelin, The Doors. We love The Doors. We got into a lot of late 80s bands. A lot of stuff in 89. The Cure. They are one of our favourite bands. Basically anything that will play on a classic Rock station is what we will listen to.
Will you be looking to play some UK festivals next year?
Always, that would be dope man. We try to make these shows count and hope that people will start talking about us here.
Where would you ideally want to play?
We really want to play Download. Reading would be huge as well.
You guys have been backed by Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens. How does that feel?
It’s pretty cool. We are always excited to be working on the next thing so I think we got their attention. If we put something new out that they really dig then its cool, man.
“The music thing takes a long time, and people tell you that and you don’t realise that until it’s been a long time.”
You’ve been going for five years?
We lose track, man. I think it’s six now. We’ve been playing together for a long time. We used to have a girl singer. It was a completely different band for a while. That was probably in 2008. Over the past few weeks, things have really started to click. The summer was very influential for us. It covered some ground. The music thing takes a long time, and people tell you that and you don’t realise that until it’s been a long time. It’s a ten-year thing really and we’re on year five and we’re over here, which is dope.
Are your songs based on shared experiences or just individual moments?
Pretty much, this record we just put out is pretty easy to read. It’s just stories of being on the road. This next record we are working on is a little more out there and personal.
What’s your next move? Are you writing a new album?
We are always writing man and trying to get better. We are playing shows, recording tracks and experimenting. There’s no path or structure. You just do it as you go a long. We are just writing songs. playing shows, trying to build fans, and getting people stoked about it. It’s not planned or some big scheme. We are just trying to make music.
With a set spanning 45 minutes, HeyRocco wasted no time bringing their loud, Nirvana-like sound to the stage of the Cavern. It didn’t take long before frontman Nate took off his shirt before playing fan favourite ‘Mom Jeans’. As the set came to a close with album track ‘Virgin’, the band’s manager threw a guitar case and a guitar onto the stage, which was confusing but crowd-pleasing nonetheless.
(Feature Image: Scene SC)