There’s been a lot of chanting about Rooney, and not just the band that is coming to Velvet Jones tonight with a popular brand of catchy retropop rock hooks. It just so happens that Rooney shares its name with English soccer player Wayne Rooney, which would not make that much difference if the World Cup wasn’t going on right now. But hey, those mistaken Internet search engine results can’t hurt, can they?
“It’s been going on longer than the World Cup,” says Ned Brower, drummer with the band. When the band toured the UK recently, they heard audiences chanting “Roo-ney! Rooooo-nee-ee!!”
“I thought, ‘wow, we’ve made it! We’re really popular here!’ ” laughs Brower. Turns out the game was on the telly in the bar they were playing.
But Rooney, the band, is earning its own kind of following in Europe and in the States. With the release of a third album, the self-produced “Eureka,” they are embarking on an intensive three-month tour of North America.
The band is headed by Robert Schwartzman, brother of actor Jason, and nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, along with Taylor Locke on guitar, Louie Stephens on keyboards and Brower on drums. Three years after they formed, Geffen signed them. And from 2002 to 2009, they battled both good and bad times with the major label. Now the band is on its own label, California Dreaming, distributed by Warner Brothers. Brower says the major label did help in certain ways — guiding them through the recording process, landing them a breakthrough appearance on “The O.C.” where they sang “Sorry Sorry,” “Popstars,” “I’m Shakin’ ” and “I’m a Terrible Person.”
On the other hand, Brower says, “I won’t miss those (expletive) board meetings, where you wait for one guy to turn up and he’s two hours late.”
But while they were under Geffen, they took notes and learned. So when it came time to produce “Eureka,” they already knew what they wanted. Brower learned a lot just about miking drums from former producer Jimmy Iovine. “I think because it’s all on us now, we’re more serious.”
The cover of “Eureka” shows a “child’s version” of the California state seal, with the goddess Athena and the California grizzly bear overlooking a beach where the band stand, possibly having just arrived. Are they ready to conquer the land?
The artwork opens out into a mural, which looks even better on the vinyl version of the LP, which Brower recently got his hands on. “It comes in red vinyl, it looks beautiful. It’s just nice to hold it in your hands.”
Of course, he says, Rooney sounds good on CD and mp3 as well. And the first single “I Can’t Get Enough” is getting some buzz, although Brower says that the American mainstream still seems to define rock as metal and pop as hip-hop. “In Europe they seem to have more of an idea what to do with us,” he says. Fans will write in saying they’ve heard the band on TV in Europe. “We were on a perfume commercial,” he laughs.
As the tour gets underway, Rooney begins with a new bass player — replacing Matthew Winters, who left after the recording. (He’s gone back to school, Brower says, and left with no hard feelings.) “This is the heaviest touring we’ve ever done,” he notes. By the end of the year, fans may just be chanting Rooney’s name, no matter what game is on the TV.