Ruling the rock roost?

Now granite monoliths in the aural ocean, The Rolling Stones first burst into the mossy pop parade with a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s The Red Rooster. “I am the little red rooster, too lazy to crow today,” Jagger gyrated. However, The Stones weren’t lazy for long, sailing through uncharted, twelve-bar waves before crashing on the shores of corporate sponsorship. It was on this beachhead that a young Nick Atkinson, Rooster’s vocal mast, first spied musical salvation. “For me it started when I saw the Rolling Stones when I was about 10. I was on my dad’s shoulders and I saw Jagger and I thought I want to do that,” states Nick.

But do what? Front a rock group that can make hardened tattoos weep, or play the money-laden marketing game? On the eve of the release of their debut single, Rooster have been touted as the fresh new face of English rock. And the opening riff of Come Get Some does swagger like intoxicated twins, to the crafted heart of Jagger/Richards. But the remainder of the song offers much sympathy for the Devil’s cynical pop pretensions.

Nick Atkinson and guitarist Luke Potashnick are at the sticky-fingered core of Rooster. Having attended the same school, they later found each other exiled on London’s main streets. With seven songs written after just two weeks, Nick and Luke decided to get a band together and recruited drummer Dave Neale and bassist Ben Smyth. “It clicked. So we locked ourselves away in a house for about six months and got writing,” remembers Nick. “That was about two years ago. We were working ourselves into a situation where we could get a deal. I knew Hugh Goldsmith at Brightside Records so I gave him a call and he came and checked us out and signed us.”

Goldsmith is an industry veteran; masterminding chart acts such as Atomic Kitten and Blue. But Atkinson is laid back when faced with suspicions of Rooster’s manufactured intent. “There’s no moulding or styling from Hugh,” he comments. “At the beginning of his career he was managing rock bands. Then he joined RCA and got caught up in the corporate machine and wanted to make some money. But now he’s in the position to do what he wants. Everyone says he’s a nice and giving guy, which in the record industry says a lot about the man. Hugh can open doors and put us in front of people, then it’s up to us.”

Asked to play this year’s V Festival on the strength of one gig, Rooster seem capable of jamming the doors open. And despite the syrupy production on Come Get Some, which hints at the excesses of eighties cock-rock, it’s hard not to be enthused by Atkinson’s passion and belief. “We’re coming from seventies-influenced rock music. It’s about the energy of a big riff and a catchy melody,” he asserts. “If people leave a gig with a few choruses in their head then I’m happy. Rock ‘n’ roll is doing what you want to do and not being afraid of putting yourself around. Just saying what you want. I spent four years walking into record companies with my guitar and getting told to fuck off, but it has worked.

“The current scene is exciting,” he continues. “Guitar based music is back to the fore. You just need to look at the quality of bands around at the moment, like Razorlight, Kasabian and Muse. I think that labels are starting to see the value in albums again and encouraging artists to start writing their own stuff.” A surprisingly molten current runs beneath Rooster’s shiny veneer. With a Free soul and Jumpin’ Jack Flash spring, the band should be a revelation live. I wanted more from Come Get Some. However, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might just find that you get what you need.


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