To many rock fans, the emerging Chicago rock outfit ROOKIE will have a very familiar sound. Taking inspiration from such legendary acts as The Allman Brothers Band and Chicago, ROOKIE brings back memorable 70’s pop-rock sounds with a modern flair in their music. However, these bands mentioned above were fortunate enough not to hit a major obstacle by the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early this year, when the band’s debut self-titled record was released March 13, ROOKIE found themselves right in the middle of the pandemic ruckus and was slated to be accompanied by a release tour. ROOKIE guitarist Dimitri Panoutsos talked with buzz about the subsequent delay of the upcoming shows and what the band has been up to during lockdown.
“I’m glad [the album] still came out March 13,” said Dimitri Panoutsos. “I can still listen to the record at home.”
The decision to release the debut “ROOKIE” record contrasts with the grain of artists choosing to delay the releases of their albums initially planned for the spring and summer. Although nowadays it may seem easy to release the album, especially with the prevalence of digital downloads and streaming, the problem lies within the promotion. The process of publicizing a record includes activities that would break the rules of social isolation — going onto radio stations, TV interviews, performing at concerts, etc.
“I’d rather go out and promote the record,” said Dimitri, “the worst part about it is not being able to perform shows.” In addition to being harder to promote the album, Panoutsos also laments on the fact that playing music alive is not the same as digital downloads and streaming. When it comes to not having live shows, he explained, “There’s a loss of adrenaline and momentum.”
In the studio, when they are together, the band members find it easier to share ideas and feed off the energy of one another. Now, Panoutsos explained, the workaround ROOKIE has is having a shared Google Drive folder where each bandmate can add music. He sees this as a way to keep each other motivated as every shared bit of music drives the other band members to continue composing.
The theme of what ROOKIE is composing during the lockdown is keeping the spirit alive. “We all try to talk to each other every day,” Panoutsos said. For the fans, members of ROOKIE would like to go online and do live stream events such as online concerts.
When asked about the possibility of having each member from their own home joining together for a live stream and performing an online concert as a band, Panoutsos explained that there would be a delay of a couple of seconds between each of the members, making a cohesive sound impossible. “We want to give people as much a live performance as possible,” he stated. The idea is to generate new content, attach the record and merch to that content.
There being so much uncertainty right now, members of ROOKIE don’t want to jump straight into playing live. “What’s more important is the safety of everyone,” Panoutsos said. This concern, however, has not stopped the band from taking what they can get. “We don’t want to look at it like a gap,” Panoutsos said. Ideas for online content have already gone into the realm of live Q&A sessions and streaming a game of “MLB The Show 20.” Aside from online antics, as they prepare for their second album, members of ROOKIE are making sure the most is being made from their time in social distancing. “How can we take things to the next level…” Panoutsos said. “You always want to improve and better yourself.”
Looking at things with good spirits, Panoutsos said it’s even lovely not to have so many distractions. But at the end of the day, ROOKIE is looking forward to keeping on playing music throughout the lockdown and eventually get back to performing their release show that got moved to September 12.