Introducing: #78 – Joe Rocks

by / June 24, 2016

Name: Joe Rocks
Formed: Around 2008
Hometown: Ballymena
Genre: Singer- Songwriter

◀ Q & A ▶

 Tell us about your artist name?

Well, contrary to popular belief…Joe Rocks is my real name. Or Joseph Rocks to give me my full title. It never really occurred to me to pick a stage name or pseudonym etc… I am pretty sure though that whenever the guy introducing the acts reads my name out he thinks it’s a made up name. Certainly puts a bit of pressure on the performance.

When did you start playing music and how would you describe your sound?

Well I come from a pretty musical family. Not a famous one…but just the kinda one that has parties where someone brings out a guitar. In the beginning…I just wanted to be able to sit in the circle a play a song.

Currently it’s just me and a guitar which of course brings out a certain sound. As you can tell from my ‘Tell her Lies’ single though, there’s a few other things thrown in there. I’d say my songs are fairly direct…it’s not hard to tell what they are about. They are maybe a little dry and twisted too.

What releases have you put out so far?

Currently I’ve only one song recorded professionally. I’m hoping this will form the start of an E.P. Apart from that I like to make short videos for some of the demos I record on my four track cassette recorder. You can see them on my youtube channel (joerocksfilm),

Is there a particular live show that stands out amongst all the rest?

Yea…it certainly wasn’t the most prestigious but back when I was starting out I played a pub down in Howth, Dublin. I was living in Dublin at the time and had sent emails to all the local nights looking for a slot. I’d like 6 or 7 songs of my own. Got the train out to Howth, got to the pub…the guy who ran it just sat me down in the middle of a room on a chair, no mic, amp or anything and I played all my songs to these kids around 17/18. The buzz and the crowd reaction really gave me a big push to try and write more and put more time into it.

Apart from that me and my friends put on these gigs in a local bar called the Sitting Room Sessions. Every time we think it isn’t gonna be as good as the last one but it just keeps getting better. We had a double bass and a guy playing a saw at the last one.

Can you talk about a Highlight and a low point of the journey so far?

A highlight would have to be opening for Malojan and Robyn G Shiels at the Braid Real Music club in my hometown of Ballymena. It was great to support arguably the two best local acts in the country. It was also the night I won the Galgorm resort and spa open mic night. (Two shows in one night) which means I get to record a track under the watchful eye of Enda Walsh.

To be honest, there hasn’t really been a low point.

If you weren’t a musician(s) how would you spend your spare time?

Eh….I play a fair bit of football so I’d say I’d just spend more time doing that. I don’t think I’ve ever been known to turn down a game of 5 a side.

If you were to go on a world tour and you could pick any 3 acts come along, who would they be?

I’d have to go with the Sitting Room Sessions gang. It would be good to show the world what’s been going on in the upstairs of the Fairhill bar Ballymena. So that’d be Gerard McHugh from Runabay, Conor McCann and the Stonemasons, and The Mulados can come along and carry some gear.

What would be the 3 strangest things on your rider if you were able to make any demand?

So I’m pretty big into biscuits. The best I’ve had being Tim Tams from Australia. The white ones. I also own a second hand record shop so I’d like a record deck in there and some LP’s. Also a big young Tom Cruise fan. So yea some Cruise DVD’s. Anything up to and including Jerry Maguire.

Is there a particular aim or goal which you hope to achieve through music?

Just to have it out there in some form. In my shop I have records of bands who never really made it financially, but to see someone come in. Stick it on, fall in love with and take it home to pass on the word….it just shows me…having it out there is victory enough.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as a musician?

Like I said, I’ve a pretty musical family and have two uncles in particular who are fantastic songwriters. It’s great to get together with them and play some new stuff. When I was at uni I had a lecture by Johnny Marr from the Smiths. Singularly the most inspirational moment of my life so far. If I could boil down what he said into a few words…then it was pretty much “Build your ark. If it’s good enough people will come.” I think as an artist of any form those are wise words.

Are there any other Northern Irish musicians we should check out?

Apart from the guys I’m taking on my world tour, Frank and Beans are worth a check out. Arborist is another band from Ballymena who I’d go to see every day of the week.

What is next for you?

Next for me is some more studio time working my way towards an EP and some more home videos with my trusty cassette tapes.


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