A windy chilly Spring evening in Park Slope, a nearly desolate street, bouncers on standby—this was the setting for a concert I wouldn’t forget, a band that’s crafting a sound all their own. Playing in late April, I had the opportunity to watch upcoming band: The Rotaries. No stranger to indie pop, I was forewarned of this band’s blended sound reminiscent of The Strokes or Coldplay, but when finally listening closer, I realized while similar to, this band was
unlike any other.
Three in tow, the band sat in front of me on a rooftop bench of The Rock Shop. It was windy, but speaking here was clearer than inside of the venue. From right to left they sat perched, awaiting my questions: James Rapp, the guitarist/vocalist, Danny Nosonowitz, the drummer and Bernard Casserly, the bassist.
LC: I read somewhere that, your background started in Westchester. Can you tell me about your formation?
Danny: We’re from Westchester. I had just graduated high school in New Rochelle and James was already at Berkley.We knew who each other were but we didnt really start becoming friends until after I graduated high school. We had some mutual friends and he heard that I was going to Northeastern and that I played drums. He approached me during the summer, like ‘hey wanna start a band, play music in Boston?’
James: Yeah he’s [Danny] basically the reason for Rotaries, because before that I was like no where I was at musically and Berkley was like wacky and all of a sudden I just started listening to bands and realized I wanted to start a band instead of doing my own thing. And I’m very happy I did that.
Bernard: I joined the band just a year ago and they already had a bass player before me. I had like come to Rotary shows and not being in a band and I saw them and I was just like I love these guys! When the first player left I just jumped on it!
LC: In listening to your music, there is a similarity to Coldplay or The Strokes. How do you feel about comparisons to other bands? Are you trying to carve out your own niche?
Danny: It’s funny, we were talking about this in the car. Like I would say it’s closer to The Strokes and The Walkmen, like our sound, there’s element of them. The strokes definitely…I’ve actually never listened fully to The Killers, but I guess I know some of those songs from the radio.
James: It’s pretty much impossible in this day and age, well not impossible, it’s hard [to carve out your own niche]. So comparisons don’t really offend me. Actually when someone tells me I sound like the singer from The Walkmen, it’s like an honor, it’s like a big compliment.
LC: So are you all independent right now. Is the goal to be signed to a big label?
There are many artists who like being independent because they’re all on their own, they get to call their own shots–
Danny: It is nice, but it’s harder.
James: Yeah, our goal is not to be a DIY type band. We’d like to be a concrete thing and promote ourselves.
Danny: It’s alot of work to like run a band by yourself
James: We like playing DIY shows and stuff, I mean obviously it’s a great vibe, but I like playing on a stage where everything’s mic’d and you can hear the music instead of like the scene
LC: So can you tell me about your musical influences?
James: My dad played Beetles on the record player all the time, but uh, yeah I grew up listening to like old soul singers like Sam Cooke and stuff. All three of us listen to alot of different stuff. Like everything he [Danny] listens to, he brings all the rhythms from. And I try to copy those old soul melodies, put ’em in a different form, speed ’em up.
Danny: For me, since we’ve been playing in a band, [I listen to] Walkmen, this band called Dawes. I listen to alot of Phoenix too. So very different sort of, kind of synthetic sort of drum sounds that’s like on a grid, but stuff that’s also more open, like the Walkmen and stuff like that. So I try to be very like robotic but also have a soul.
James: There definitely needs to be a balance between raw sound, like a raw vibe there needs to be a vibe for sure, but it’s good to like work at your instrument and be a good musician. I think people respond to that more.
LC: Tell me a little about your lyrical content. Are you trying to change the world, introducing social change?
James: We definitely don’t have any political message or anything like that. I’m all for that stuff but I don’t write my lyrics about that stuff. I would say early on I was more interested in like word painting. Like a sentence or lyric wouldn’t really have to make sense. Or [putting] two words next to each other [would] instantly make you think of something in a wierd, kind of abstract way. And now I’ve been into very straightfoward lyrics, not very literal, but like [a] plain love song.
Danny: They’re just [about] friends, girls, being rejected by people. [Laughs]
James: It’s funny, when I try to write a song about one thing, it usually ends uup like, I hear something, then the next verse is about something entirely different. And then the whole song becomes something [else].
LC: So what’s like the day-to-day, since you all are independent and there’s no backing. What’s the day-to-day grind?
James: We definitely try to practice atleast once a week or more than that.
Bernard: Yeah, me and James go to SUNY Purchase and Danny goes to CUNY. We mainly practice on the weekends.
James: We’re recording right now and we’re recording with the guy we recorded Before Leaving (The group’s debut full-length EP) with. He’s really talented. Last time it was in my garage and like all to a computer and this time we’re using no computer, we’re just going straight to an old tape machine and I think it’s gonna give us more of a vibe than our first album and it’s gonna be really awesome.
LC: So like a vintagey feel?
Danny: It’s also like, recording to a tape machine and not being able to immediately edit everything and see everything on the screen and immediately start playing with it, you record to tape and it’s not like you can edit it. It puts you in a mindset where the performance has to be really good and you kind of have to think like we can’t fix it. So it’s like lets do this really well right now, which is cool.
LC: So what would be your like dream collaboration, would it be like Coldplay…? Who would you want to do a mashup with? [Laughs]
Danny: Well we were supposed to play this show with JP Bowerstock
James: Yeah he was a guy that did alot of the production on the first Strokes record… Bands that seem to just work with some guy that mostly produces, like the albums really have a vibe and a sound about them.
Signature producer, or not, The Rotaries have a sound that’s earnest, melodic, rhythmic, soulful and poppy all at once. This band’s future progression is definitely something to look out for! The Rotaries’ next upcoming shows will be on 5/14 at House of Bumble and 6/1 at The Bowery Electric. To hear more of The Rotaries and learn more about the band visit: