WORDS: JULIET GELFMAN-RANDAZZO '18
IMAGES: WILL BARR '18
When I heard The Rooks were playing at the Mash, I knew something sounded familiar. I texted my best friend from home a casual “Is ur camp friend in the rooks?!!!” He responded affirmatively, agreed to set me up with an interview, and left me with two pieces of advice:
“Ask him about the number 6”
“And the time he yelled at Noah Marcus”
He followed up these extremely comprehensible instructions with,
“He knows Jake and David too
Like really well
Totally talk about them.”
For those of you not in the know, Noah, Jake, and David are my friend Jesse Litvin’s camp friends who I have known for many years, since the gang started visiting each other in my hometown. Feeling like an honorary member of Camp North Star at this point, I was extremely excited to finally meet Graham Richman, who I had heard described as “really cool and nice,” “a humorous man,” and “chill.”
I was not disappointed; though I never learned about the number 6, I did learn a lot about the Rooks and their relative chill-ness. Also, I had the chance to hang with four pretty amazing Wes-alum musicians, and one who doesn’t even go here!
So what’s its like to be back at Wes, do you feel old?
Garth: Oh no! Do we look old? What is the answer? No, I’m kidding. Me and Spencer were in the Spirits together with people that are still here who we can come and see and hang out with, and we’ve met lots of new people.
Spencer: It’s been a great feeling to know that every time we’ve come back after graduating everyone’s really welcoming and it’s felt really special every time, even though we know fewer and fewer people on campus.
Garth: A lot of freshmen here today… and they were like ‘we’re ready to rage’.
Gabe: What year is that, 2019?? I can’t count that high.
Garth: Think about that…you can’t count that high, then maybe you should come back here!
Gabe: I didn’t take a math class.
Garth: I was in a calc class for one class and I was like… ‘and scene.’
So where did you guys live on campus?
Gabe: Clark floor 2 was the place to be freshman year…
Method: No it wasn’t.
Gabe: You can make faces but you weren’t there so you don’t know.
Garth: But it wasn’t though…
Gabe: And then I lived in the Nics and then I lived in Lowrise and then Pine.
Method: Did you live in pine palace?!
Gabe: Nooo, not in pine palace, the new one like those future ones – 231 B...
Garth: Spencer didn’t live anywhere.
Method: I live in Westco.
Garth: Spencer lived in WestCo!
Method: Up 3 is all sophomores and has no RA’s so…
Garth: Up 3 is the place to be.
Method: There is a party there after if you guys want to come…
Gabe: We have other plans…in New York City…
Method: No no no it’s fine! It’s cool!
Garth: This is Connor, Connor didn’t go to Wesleyan.
Connor: Yeah I got an honorary degree through…
Method: Yeah so you didn’t live on campus, so you can’t answer that question.
What are your top memories from Wesleyan?
Method: Connor wants to answer this question.
Connor: I loved Utah?
Graham: My best moment? We played tent party 2011 with a band called Mad Wow, which is like a Motown throwback thing and that was awesome.
Garth: And little things...
Spencer: Like, being on Foss hill in the spring.
Garth: Never, not with my allergies, I was like you can find me inside, watching Bad Girls Club but… don’t put that in.
Connor: It’s on the record.
Ok now I have a couple questions for Graham, can you tell me about the time you yelled at Noah Marcus?
Garth: Oh! This is gotcha journalism! Did you see Connor whip out that phone?
Graham: I feel like I should be on a podium with a bunch of microphones… so I was teaching a guitar class at camp and Noah was being a little snot and he knows he was being a snot. I told him, I forget what I said, but I remember like a period later thinking I shouldn’t have said anything cause he was really upset and he was like 14. Every time Jesse sees me that’s the first thing he says, like why’d you yell at Noah? Noah hasn’t talked to me since so.
Method: ok second question for you, what does 6 mean?
Graham: I’m gonna kill Jesse…
So on a scale of 9-10 how much does Jesse Litvin suck?
Gabe: We started a lot of beef today.
Garth: Yes we did, and I wasn’t even really involved in any of it.
How chill do you think your band is?
Graham: Is this a 9-10 scale again?
Method: Whatever scale you want.
Garth: it varies by person.
Method: Who’s the chillest?
All: probably Gabe.
Method: Yeah, you’re wearing a polo, I can tell.
Gabe: It’s ironic!
Method: oh my god, that’s what I said! Some people were talking about your polo and I was like I’m pretty sure it’s ironic.
Garth: See how she slid shade in there?? Some people were talking about your polo?
Gabe: And I feel accomplished because that’s all I can ask for .
Garth: He doesn’t care as long as people are talking about him… this is just… ratchet as hell!
When during his day do you think Michael Roth listens to your music?
Garth: Actually at night. When he’s cooking dinner.
Graham: Ooh yeah, or when he just gets up, in the morning.
Gabe: Let me tell you something about Michael Roth. Alright, Mad Wow Disease was playing a show out at the bottom of Foss Hill
Graham: That was an old band that we were part of.
Gabe: And two things happened at the same time that really just kind of blew my mind. One is that a bunch of zombies start attacking the stage because it was humans vs. zombies, so they were crawling up on stage as we were playing some funk music, and then I turn and Michael Roth is like “can I jump on your keyboard and play a solo right now?” I’m like what am I supposed to do, I have zombies to the left of me, Michael Roth to the right, here I am stuck in the middle, like what the, what is this?? It was crazy.
What Wes-made spotify playlist would you want your music to be on?
Garth: Are there different titles to choose from? Turn up.
Graham: I like turn up. Or Get Down?
Spencer: Shade Lap.
Method: Should I put it on my hype jams playlist?
Spencer: You could put part of the album on your hype jams playlist and part of it on your bedtime playlist.
Gabe: You could put it on the Das Racist Contemporaries Playlist?
Graham: You could put it on the “We’re not MGMT” playlist?
What 3 words would you use to describe your band’s squad image right now?
Spencer: Non-profit hoes.
Gabe: Oh my god, guys, now we need one for the kids!
So do you guys play a lot of chess?
So what’s the reason behind your band name?
Garth: Necessity… umm Connor’s going to take this one!
Connor: The Res hall near, across from the garden, yeah, long john 2, and I don’t know! It was just one of those things where we didn’t know if we were like, rookies, or we didn’t know if we were like, (Garth: that’s not far from the truth) we didn’t know if we were just trying to move forward like the chess piece does (Garth: he’s just repeating what he’s heard us say!) you we thought that like it was a symbol for a new beginning that could only move forward.
Garth: Rooks can move side to side!
Connor: Yeah but we’re only moving forward. Yeah so after a long-
Garth: STOP HIM!
What’s your advice for aspiring Wes musicians for how to succeed if you’re not MGMT or Heems?
Garth: Who’s Heems?
Gabe: From Das Racist.
Graham: Play a lot. And play…
Gabe: From the heart.
Graham: No but seriously! Play a lot and try to build hubs and don’t try to do everything on your own.
Garth: Be focused on your goals and make sure you’re nice to people. Practice here, this school’s music scene is a good environment for learning how to play live music to a receptive audience so use it. Use the fact that there’s a strong scene here to try new things and then you’ll be a lot better equipped.
Spencer: You’re never going to have an audience like you’re gonna have here, and you’re never going to have the amount of time that you have here to actually work.
Garth: Don’t wait until you graduate to say, oh when I graduate I’m going to start working on my music, do it here. That was my serious answer.
How’d you guys meet?
Garth: Ok Cupid.
Gabe: Half of us…
Garth: Is that a serious thing?
Method: yeah, it’s like Jewish Tinder.
Garth: (at Gabe) You’re not on that?
Gabe: Funny story, we played at Highline ballroom a couple of years ago in New York City, and the way that we were introduced to this gig was, hey do you want to open for Talib Kweli, and we were like YES, and then they were like, oh by the way, it’s a networking function gig for people on JDate.
Gabe: It’s myspace for Jewish participants. So it was like a mingler. This was like 3 years ago. But we did open for Talib.
Garth: We did! I tripped down the stairs in front of him. That was not one of my finer moments.
Gabe: Anything to get noticed, right Garth?
Method: Graham, what type of gum were you chewing in the show?
Graham: It’s the original flavor, I wanted spearmint but they were out.
Graham: Yeah. :/
What’s your best story?
Gabe: I tell a really good “Of Mice and Men”.
Garth: You’re so wack.
Garth: You are a dad right now.
Gabe: But I am the chillest.
Garth: Undisputed chillest.
Connor: So Joan Baez rolls up...
All: THAT’S the story!
Garth: We can tell that story because it doesn’t involve us doing anything, just Joan Baez being drunk as fuck.
Garth: She was belligerent.
Gabe: do you even know who Joan Baez is?
Method: Of course I know who Joan Baez is!
Garth: Well I didn’t and I didn’t care.
Graham: We played a show at Arlene’s Grocery in New York City this was like, last January, and Joan Baez showed up and was like completely plastered, had like a 2 or 3 twenty-something year old posse following her around and she kind of like, she got really aggressive with every single member of the band at different times, like we were all spread out around the venue, and she would, she found a way to bother every single member of the band, even though we were separate.
Gabe: She made us look up a picture of her to prove she was Joan Baez.
Graham: She asked us, do you know who I am…
Spencer: and she was very vulgar, and aggressive...
Garth: One time, one of us got sick on a tour and we had to vom.
Method: was it you?
Garth: Yeah, it was me. Don’t I look like I probably vomit a lot?
Method: I don’t know if I can say that you look like that
Gabe: She’s like I wasn’t going to say anything…
Graham: I was worried that you were going to jump off the bridge… cause we pulled over so he could throw up, and it’s right on the side of the bridge.
Gabe: Beautiful view!
Graham: The Peace Bridge and Spencer jumped out and for a minute I thought he was going over the railing .
Gabe: Why are we doing this to you, let’s find another victim.
Garth: Yeah shit… um Connor tried to post up on me several times, I had to tell him not to.
Connor: Yeah I learned my lesson the hard way.
Garth: We’re also a gang, like we double as a gang so we’re initiating him.
Gabe: It’s actually the Rooks Gang, it’s @therooksgang on twitter and Instagram and Facebook.
Garth: That’s false.
Gabe: Connor hasn’t gone through his initiation yet.
Garth: Like he hasn’t killed a person… we all killed a person.
Graham: But it can’t be one of us, you can’t kill one of us.
Gabe: so do you have, like, enough stuff?
Check out The Rooks on their website (therooksband.com) on Facebook, Twitter (@therooksband), Instagram (@therooksband), soundcloud.com/therooksband, and Spotify!