With their 2nd single âStaring at The Sunâ hitting the top 5 spot in the UK, followed two weeks later by their # 3 charting gold-status self-titled debut album on 24th January, Rooster look set to continue building their avid following in 2005.
This hotly tipped West London band hit the UK Top Ten in October 2004, with their first single âCome Get Someâ. A typically sharp and sexy rock'n'roll hustle, it was a song that acted like a siren call to a new generation of rock fans whoâd been longing for a band to come along with some honest to goodness musical talent, personal charisma and a suitcase full of great tunes.
With 2nd single, âStaring at the Sunâ, a slower, more melodic track, the group reveal another side to their personalities, although according to singer Nick Atkinson, the sentiment of the song isn't âthatâ sensitive.
"The chorus is: 'You can't see anything when you're staring at the sun'," Nick says. "It's about being in love and not realizing that actually, they're a bit of a bitch. It's how love can blind you to a person's faults. Then suddenly it all becomes clear."
It has been a long time since a young, new group has come along with a rock'n'roll heart as big as that of Rooster. Nick Atkinson, 24, and guitarist Luke Potashnick, 22, went to school together, where their paths crossed from time to time. But it wasn't until they were both living in London that the pair got together and began writing material with a view to starting a band. Luke was by then studying for a degree at the London School of Economics, while Nick was at University studying English and Drama. Both of them had been obsessive music fans for as long as they could remember.
The reference points for Luke were the classic English rock guitarists: Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin, early Eric Clapton when he was in Cream and the Yardbirds and especially the mighty Paul Kossoff whose intensely emotional style was a cornerstone of Free's uniquely taut, heavy rock sound.
"That's what I'm calling upon rather than any of the 1980s stuff," Luke says. "I've played since I was 11 and as I got older I realized that the faster stuff - although you can play it - it just doesn't mean anything. Jimmy Page was one of the faster players that actually made sense on a musical level. But Kossoff - that's what really does it for me, and I want to pass that on to other people through my playing."
Nick's influences, meanwhile tended towards the more populist rock of Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses.
"It's all about the big chorus," Nick says. "You mustn't be afraid of the big chorus. For me, music is something that you want to sing along to. You want to get people involved on every level."
Where Luke and Nick come together is in their enthusiasm for Velvet Revolver, the band featuring Slash and ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. "That is an awesome album," Luke says.
Having started writing together "to see what would happen", it soon became obvious to Nick and Luke that the chemistry between the two both on a musical and a personal level was exceptional.
"We pretty quickly decided we should get a band together," Luke says.
Drummer Dave Neale, 19, was recruited from the wilds of Cornwall where he had played percussion in band that Luke had become involved with on an earlier visit down there.
"He just had a really perfect sound and a cool stage presence," Luke says. "He doesn't over-play, but he really has that weight in his sound, where it counts."
Meanwhile, bass player Ben Smyth, 19, was recruited through a small ad in the rock press.
"Here was this young guy who was a lot better than he should have been for his age," Luke says. "He sings backing vocals, which is what we wanted. And he's got a big five-string bass. He needs it for the stuff we're doing."
The band settled on the name Rooster when Nick came home Â£250 richer after putting a bet on a horse called Rooster Booster.
While the band is now ready to come racing out of the traps, all four musicians have put in many years learning their craft, playing live and walking the walk. It was Nick who was initially spotted singing in a previous band by Hugh Goldsmith. Goldsmith wasn't too impressed with the group, but he remembered the skinny singer with the raucous rock'n'roll voice and the long floppy fringe. So further down the road, when Goldsmith was setting up his new Brightside label, he called up Nick and asked him what he was up to. Nick said he was working with Luke in a new band. Not long afterwards, Rooster became the first act to sign to Brightside/BMG.
An intensive period of writing and recording ensued, of which the first fruit was the No.7 hit single, âCome Get Someâ, an anthemic song with a killer hook, and a typically infectious spring in its step.
"Rather than rocking out like the headbangers, we wanted to get a sort of bouncing thing going," Luke says. "There's a definite hip hop component in there."
The individual members of the group had all had many years of experience on the live circuit, but with the line-up completed and an album's worth of songs written, they started gigging in their own right last summer. After playing a prestigious slot in the new bands tent at the V Festival and topping the bill at the "City Showcase" at the Borderline on September 7 2004, an annual event sponsored by Radio XFM in conjunction with London Fashion Week and the Mayor of London's office, the band headed round the country, winning an ecstatic reception, wherever they went.
At a historic performance at London's ICA on November 2, Rooster became the first group ever to broadcast a concert live over the 3G mobile phone network, adding a potential audience of one million mobile phone users to the fans crowded into the venue.
"Potashnik played with a rapier-like cut and thrust, particularly on the storming climax of âDrag The Sunrise Downâ, while Atkinson's pleasingly raucous vocal tone ensured that the tunes did not emerge sounding too precious or pristine," said The Times, awarding four stars out of five for the show.
Their next London gig at the Carling Islington Academy on December 8, sold out after just three days. Their biggest tour yet begins on January 18, taking the band to venues all across the British Isles, and by the time they finish at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on February 21, they will have played to more than 16,000 people on this tour.
Unusually for a rock act, a high percentage of their fans are female - the so-called Rooster-ettes, who line the front of the stage at every gig the band plays.
"We always thought we might attract a strong female following," Nick says without any hint of false modesty. "And it's great. Bring it on. It's a lot more pleasant for us to have lots of beautiful women in front of the stage. And believe me, wherever you find beautiful women, there will be blokes not far behind, and we've had no problem winning them over too."
Indeed not. And as an interview in âAttitudeâ magazine suggested, this is a band whose appeal could extend in all sorts of directions.
"It was a really good article," Nick says. "It kind of summed us up rather nicely. It started off by saying my trousers were so low down my arse they could bugger me without taking off my jeans - which is fair enough. They nailed it. All four of us are constantly walking around with our arses out of our trousers. The first question was 'So, Rooster, that's all about big cocks isn't it?' Luckily we'd already done the photo shoot, otherwise we might have got a little worried about what they wanted us to do.
"We want to bring back stadium rock," Luke says with a big grin. "No modern, young bands are really trying to do that any more. We want to remind people of the craft and the spirit and the sheer excitement of music that not only works in your heart and in your mind but blows you away out there on the big stage. There's a lot of 16-year-old kids that have missed out on the 1970s and the kind of great music that was around back then. They might not have heard Hendrix or anything, but they love rock tracks. If anyone hears us and gets into Zeppelin or AC/DC as a result, then that would be a huge thrill for me.
"Whether it's writing, recording, gigging or whatever, there isn't any one aspect of this that we don't enjoy, and that we don't throw ourselves into with 100% commitment," Luke says. "We want to be doing this for a long time."