Kat Corbett Talks the Return of Rooney with Robert Schwartzman

August 22, 2018

By Scott T. Sterling

Twenty years of Rooney.

It may be hard for some to take in, but 2019 will mark the twentieth year since Robert Schwartzman first launched the band with a live show in his native Los Angeles.

“When Rooney started, it was 1999,” Schwartzman recalled incredulously during a wide-ranging and intimate interview with KROQ's Kat Corbett.

“That was the first show, at the Troubadour. It’s just so crazy. I was 17,” he remembered.

The occasion that brought Schwartzman and Corbett together: a brand new Rooney song, “Do You Believe,” which officially debuted on the KROQ airwaves.

“I found this really amazing studio which I’ll shout out called National Southwestern Recording,” Schwartzman explained. “It’s behind a vinyl record store. I stumbled into it one day on Fremont Street in downtown. It’s wonderful, the owner is amazing, the whole team there is awesome. It just sounds great. It was inspiring to move to a different room. You get new ideas when you change your environment.

“There’s a lot of programmed elements,” he added about “Do You Believe.” “Sort of a clash between traditional guitar-driven rock and roll and programmed elements.”

The new release is the latest from Rooney following last summer’s El Cortez EP, and 2016 full-length, Washed Away.

“Part of the whole inspiration and excitement of having a band was the live performance side of it,” he detailed about his current burst of activity. “I just got so excited playing Rooney shows live that it made me want to write music and keep writing and keep the flow. For me, it’s hard to imagine a world of just making records and not playing shows. The two kind of go together. So we’re going to do the Cosmic Interlude tour. Twenty shows in major cities across the country.”

When pressed by Corbett about the inspiration behind the tour’s title, Schwartzman said it all comes down to an obsession with outer space and classic rock legends, Electric Light Orchestra.

“I love space imagery. It’s cool to see satellite pictures. There are amazing discoveries being made all of the time,” he said. “I’m a big ELO fan, I talk about it all the time. Our (tour promo materials) features some cosmic elements, so it just made sense. It’s taking a break from your life and coming to see a show.”

Schwartzman’s ELO obsession is enough that he’s spent personal time hanging out with the band’s enigmatic leader, Jeff Lynne, in the artist’s own home. It’s where the two enjoyed a friendly game of ping-pong that turned...well, let’s let Robert tell the story.

“I love ping-pong, and I’ll get really into it,” he laughed, explaining how he let the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer win the match. “But Jeff was really into it, and we had like a battle and it was a close game, and I thought, ‘I can’t win on his home court. I’ll feel like a jerk.’ Anyway, so he won.”

Sounds like it’s time for a rematch on a neutral court! With Lynne and ELO on a short hiatus before resuming tour dates in Europe, maybe the rematch can be arranged in time for August 30: That’s when Rooney is set to play a special local edition of the Cosmic Interlude tour at the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

It’s a KROQ Locals Only show that will feature special guests Mating Ritual and Goldensuns. Doors open at 7pm. Get tickets here.