A New Face - Make Mine an OliRockberger Please- with Zero Cheese!
A chart when you first get it is like a brand new bed. Eventually you want the bed to adapt to the individual curve of your body, while maintaining its basic, supportive constitution. Songs are the same- the defining properties of the song should always remain clearly intact, but there should be ways the song adjusts to the players who are playing it. This collective musical input helps to breathe life in to my songs and aims to make the listener feel as though we are all speaking the words to them, even if I am the only one who is literally singing them. This is all about giving the composition the chance to be the best that it can. I've found that this is about taking pride in the process of getting it to its greatest potential. I've also found that remaining open to suggestions and critique by my colleagues makes the music far better.
Although Tony and Chris are clearly creatively involved in the composition and arrangement, they also bring a certain level of objectivity to the music which I can never have as the primary writer of the tunes. Their balance between involvement and detachment puts my band members in a unique position to help me to get the music to where it needs to be. I take their comments very seriously and when a tune is "happening" after much work, I think all three of us feel a great sense of collective and individual achievement.
The rule from my experience is that if you are enjoying playing a certain section, if it's feeling good, then it is good! We keep working with a particular section until we achieve that feeling - that you could live in that section forever- because in songs, it will be the same each time it comes around, until you actually change the part? so it better feel and sound great before you start playing it out there!
AAJ: What kind of recording technology have you been using? Hard disc or analog? Do you have a home studio? How much unreleased music do you have written or demoed that you?d want to release?
OR: Right now my focus is on live performance and it takes so much work to; a) get a band really tight and b) to get the arrangements and songs themselves as they should be, that home recording has taken a back seat for me right now. I have a Yamaha MOTIF 8 which I use to sequence and get ideas down quickly. I have an Apple G4 and when I have some more time I will start recording at home.
AAJ: Are you planning to maintain somewhat of an equal physical presence in both countries?
OR: I am very much hoping so-I have strong feelings for both the UK and the US and it would be desirable to have a career in both territories, and eventually in other European countries too.
AAJ: Do you do many solo gigs?
OR: Occasionally I do solo gigs where I sing and play my original songs and covers of other pop tunes. Mainly I play with groups- either my own, or pick-up groups for GB work, or club dates.
AAJ: Tell us where do you see yourself on the musical landscape? Singer/songwriter, prodigious instrumentalist? Jazz/rock/pop? Everything? I know you have no problem style jumping, that's for sure.
OR: I would love to perform, tour and record with the Oli Rockberger Band, as my primary career focus. Playing in this outfit is one of the times when I truly get the opportunity to perform music on my own terms; its my own music, I play with two responsive, brilliant and stimulating players, and I am able to explore my interests as a singer/songwriter, and as an improvising instrumentalist, without having to make a choice between the two sides of my musical character.
The idea behind the music and the band is that singer/songwriting, improvising, group interaction and stretching out are all crucial ingredients in what we do, and in this respect, I have tried to create the ideal environment for my musical skills, which are broadly based, and not specific to one area. I'm in between singer/songwriter, jazz player, and gospel/R&B/funk/pop pianist and in my group, I'm able to be all these things, in what we consider to be one homogenous package. In addition to my work with my own group, I would love to become a first call pianist for pop/rock/folk/R&B/gospel/country studio work. Eventually I would like to teach college level and produce. Songwriting for other artists and collaborating is also something I would like to explore in time.
AAJ: What music holds your most extreme interest these days, and what of it may influence your next project or recording?
OR: Both singer/songwriters and jazz artists. I love Peter Gabriel and want to explore more of his work. I also heard some Vince Mendoza arrangements recently and have to get some of his work too. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and also Oregon interest me as well as Rickie Lee Jones or Michael McDonald. I'm always checking out contemporary gospel and new R&B and pop/rock artists too, in addition to listening to all my old favorites. I think that continuing to explore contemporary music and culture will play a great part in my next project.