R&B/soul band plays Founders tonight

R&B/soul band The Rooks returns to Founders Brewing Co. tonight. The band also plays its first Holland show on Friday at New Holland Brewery.

The NYC-based trio consists of Garth Taylor, Spencer Hattendorf and Graham Richman.

The Rooks played at Founders last year for the first time and said it was a great experience. “We are excited to come back to Grand Rapids,” said Taylor. “We played Founders last year and it was amazing. The energy in the room was amazing and they have a great set up. They treat us very well. That was a highlight of our tour last year, and I’m not just saying it.”

The Grand Rapids and Holland shows are the second and third performances on The Rooks summer tour lineup, which kicked off yesterday in Cleveland, Ohio. The band will play songs off of its latest EPs, mostly.

Hattendorf said attendees should plan to dance. “First and foremost, we started as a live band. The vibe and energy is a live set. We want people to dance.”

The Rooks sound is a fusion of R&B, soul and pop. “I would say we draw a lot on people like Frank Ocean and R&B artists like Maxwell, and we always try our best to sound like Prince, but that’s a hard thing to do. We also draw from influences outside R&B,” Hattendorf said.

Taylor also compared their sound to artists D’Angelo and J Dilla, but with some pop mixed in. “We like to dip our toes in a lot of different sounds,” he said.

The Rooks’ sound has been evolving since the band first formed in 2012, and Taylor said the goal of the band’s latest EP, Wires, was specifically to develop the sound.

The band is recording its first full length album this year, which it expects to release later next year, and Taylor said the album is a further evolution for the band. He said the album will contain all new material.

“I think the new album is definitely going to be different from the EP,” Taylor said. “The new album has a lot of R&B vibe and some ‘80s pop-vibe. The things people love to get festive to in the car. We have a lot of up tempos and more moody things. There’s a range of mood, which is something we like to play with. R&B, pop energy will be really present in this upcoming album.”

The Rooks formed while its members were attending Wesleyan University, a little over five years ago. “Wesleyan has a thriving music community, so everyone kind of plugged into that,” Taylor said.

“I actually grew up playing in a lot of orchestras and wind ensembles. I didn’t really sing until coming to college. On a whim I joined an acapella group and then met Spencer. He plays saxophone and has a jazz background. His mother is a music teacher so he has always been involved in music and jazz.”

Taylor also met Richman in the acapella group. Richman also has a background in music. He grew up playing piano before switching to guitar.

Taylor said in 2012 they all moved to New York City with the intention of becoming a professional band. “It’s been a slow and steady process for us,” he said.

The momentum is building. This is the band’s fourth tour and each year they’ve been able to add new cities, including the Holland show.

“We are just looking forward to meeting a lot of new people. We’ve been fortunate to put together these dates through new cities. We want to bring the party to all of you,” Taylor said.

He added, “We are looking forward to exploring and hopefully making some new Michigan fans so we can come back.”

The Rooks play Founders Brewing Co. tonight. The SEVENth, a Grand Rapids-based “enlightened hip hop” band, and DJ Omega Supreme are also on the bill. The show begins at 9:30 p.m. in the Taproom and is free to attend. The show is 21+ .

The Rooks play New Holland Brewery, 66 E 8th St., on Friday, July 21 at 9 p.m.

*Photo courtesy of The Rooks

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