The Rookery celebrate their final show of the year in style!
"You can go to a club and be around a load of pretty boys with shit hair and tight tops or you can come down to The Rookery have a few beers, have a fucking mingle, have a jam, listen to some sick tunes and be a part of something with a bit of soul!"
2017 has been a hell of a year for the multi-city music collective that makes up The Rookery, with their Newcastle branch boasting several successful events throughout.
December marked their final show of the year however, and what a show it was!
Starting with their usual drop-in sessions of spontaneity and improvisation, slowly but surely what began as rough layers of individual musical talent merged into cohesive bouts of utter genius.
Making the event even more intimate and inviting was the venue, taking place in Newcastle's Little Buildings Rehearsal Rooms which is increasingly becoming one of our favorite gig spaces.
Even as an observer it became impossible not to get caught up in the energy of the moment as instruments and vocal styles of all kinds were explored and blended together with an enthusiastic yet casual ease.
I managed to tear two of the masterminds behind the initiative, Joey Swindells and Jack Cooper, away from the action for a quick chat about the event and what the future holds...
What can you tell us about the event this evening?
Joey: So pretty much what we've done for the past three of events just a jamming session so people can just come down and have a go, but tonight there's going to be a 14-piece funk band Philonious Funk rounding off the night.
We thought for the last one we'd have a bit of a party and the kind of music that the band plays everyone knows so everyone will have a bit of a dance and a great time.
How has the Rookery developed over 2017 and how does it feel having the final event of the year?
Jack: We've made so much progress, last year we were just doing one off events but this year we've been doing them much more frequently and we've been noticing more and more familiar faces each time.
Joey: Yeh its been mint to be able to see it go from the few core people to finding that each time there's at least one more new core person.
Jack: And its so good because we genuinely believe in it but we're starting to see other people believe in it now too. And people are starting to know about who we are and we don't have to explain each time,
Joey: Yeh like you'll be walking down the street and end up chatting to someone and they'll say "oh yeh I've heard about that!" and that's a good feeling.
Jack: People want it so bad but it's never been done, like I was talking to someone on the train the other day and telling them all about it, because it's literally all we talk about, and she was saying what a good idea it was.
Joey: Yeh exactly because everyone, literally everyone knows someone who plays music isn't playing as much as they want to do.
So they can come down and it's really relaxed and it feels like everyone are friends.
Joey: And I guess if I was to describe how I feel it would be proud how far we've come and how much people love it...
Jack: And everyone's dead sound that walks through the door and you get all kinds of people. Like you get shy people who are a bit scared to get involved but everyone sort of pushes them through.
Joey: Yeh it's a safe environment, and when you're jamming with people who think they can't do it you just got to help them throw themselves in at the deep end and they go from not being able to do it to jamming in one session and then they've got it for life.
If you could only pick one, what would your highlight from this year be?
Joey: Definitely the launch party in February at the Cluny!
Jack: That was such a good night but we were so fucking nervous as well. Like we didn't really sell any tickets because it was more of a 'on the door' sort of thing. And a lot of money had gone into it as well...
Joey: Yeh the thing was we couldn't afford to put on the night, had it all gone south I would have had to use my rent money so that was a bit fucking tense, heart was going a bit...
And then half way through the night you (Jack) came over to me to say we'd broke even and then more and more people came for both the jam day and the gig at the end.
Jack: And we didn't even have a band booked for that day, everyone who did the jam session just did a performance at the end and in front of like 150 people the atmosphere was sick.
Joey: Yeh it's not just a normal gig when you've been there all day. If you go to a normal gig everyone just stands there with their hands in their pockets with a can of Red Stripe and no one's fucking limber, but when you've spent the day together its much more relaxed and friendly.
So you've had your events at a few different venues now with lots of different kinds of people, is there anything you still feel you want to tap into as a movement?
Jack: I think the Rookery as an idea needs to move around the country.
It should never be constrained to one venue or anything it should move around to different cities and people should know what it is and know its coming.
Like know I'm thinking ahead here but I want to get a van...
Joey: Yeh yeh yeh, I reckon we can get ahold of a van in the next year. With a van you can get your kit in it you can sleep in it, a van is definitely a shout and getting to different cities would be easier.
We've already got things going on in Bolton and Newcastle and we have a good spot in Manchester and Leeds that we could do stuff at.
Jack: Yeh that's sort of the short term like grow it basically.
What would you guys say is the biggest lesson you've learned in 2017?
Joey: Deffo just never stop promoting!
Jack: Yeh like there's been shows where we thought we'd have lots of people turn up so we, not so much sacked it off, but we thought 'oh it's alright now we can leave it.
Joey: There was this one night we knew 35-40 people were going to come down as a group so we thought, as well as the usual 25 that come, down we'd be cushty so we laid it off... that group of 35 cancelled at the last minute.
So you never know what's going to happen.
At the end of the day though we still made a load of sick jams, people came who had never been before and had a good time and that's the main thing!
So finally, what is 2018 going to hold for The Rookery?
Jack: 2018 is going to be a big one!
So we'll do a couple of little sessions through January again at Little Buildings, and then we'll be having our first year anniversary in Newcastle, back at the Cluny for round 2.
Joey: Right, I think we'll have a really good go at selling the Cluny out, which is a lot of people and will be a lot of work.
Basically if we do this party we want everyone to be talking about it! Make it really worth talking about, make some noise and get people who are in the music scene who may not already know about us talking, basically show Newcastle what we can really do!
Jack: We're gonna get a band in for that one as well, that's to be announced but we'll try and get someone pretty big.
Joey: But this is how The Rookery really started, starting about 11 o'clock in the morning, jamming until about 5/6, having an hour for our tea and a beer and then doing a gig in the night time. So if we go from 11 til 12 o'clock at night that is 13 hours of non-stop music which you do not get anywhere!
Jack: People pay like 6 quid to get into a club...
Joey: Yeh! You can go to a club and be around a load of pretty boys with shit hair and tight tops or you can come down to The Rookery have a few beers, have a fucking mingle, have a jam, listen to some sick tunes and be a part of something with a bit of soul!
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