Parlor Mob DavidThey released one of the most startling debuts of 2009 and despite coming across like a 70s blues rock powerhouse insist their sound is nothing like classic rock.

Yep, The Parlor Mob are a crew full of contradictions and that’s what makes the US band ones to watch next year.

We’re watching them already and we caught up with guitar hero David Rosen.

rushonrock: How have you enjoyed touring the UK this year?

David Rosen: It’s been great. We’re still just starting out in the UK and the Black Stone Cherry tour was well timed for us. We’re on the same label and did a few shows with them in the US but it wasn’t until their last headline tour of Britain that we got to know those guys. They’re good guys and they’re huge in the UK. We never really know what to expect coming over – we did 12 dates back in March which were our own shows and we went to Glasgow for the first time and sold out a show! It wasn’t a big venue but we’re always impressed by how much people in the UK really love their music.

rushronrock: Are you more popular in the UK and Europe than you are back home?

DR: We’ve been touring the US for a lot longer – and longer than the BSC guys for instance – so there are a lot of cities over there where we’ve built up a following and we do really well. There are certain cities where we’d definitely do better than any place in the UK. But the thing is we’ve never really toured British venues properly with our full show and so we don’t really know who’s out there. It’s an unknown quantity.

rushonrock: Are you pleased with the way your band and your record have been received by British fans to date?

DR: Oh yeah. We released the record in May in the US and the reviews have been few and far between. By contrast we’ve had a series of great reviews in the UK. But there’s just so much competition back home and unless you get to your third record – or unless you’re some kind of buzz band – it’s difficult to make a name for yourselves in the US. It takes a while. The album’s release was pretty low key but that’s kinda what we wanted because we want to build something. The whole 90s thing where you could have a hit single, enjoy a lot of initial success and sell a million records doesn’t really happen any more. We feel the only way we’ll have lasting success is to tour and tour and tour. The album is in support of that.

rushonrock:  And surely that’s how it should be?

DR: Absolutely. Being on the road helps you to hone yourselves as a band and you get to be a tighter unit and a better functioning group. It doesn’t guarantee longevity but it helps. There’s nothing beats playing a show in front of ‘X’ amount of people and then going back there a few months later and playing a bigger venue in the same city in front of more people. That’s what being in a band is all about. That’s the way we want to do it and if it takes a while it takes a while.

rushonrock: Who has influenced The Parlor Mob and helped to shape the band’s classic rock sound?

DR: For me personally I grew up listening to Nirvana and they were my favourite band in the world. Kurt Cobain died and I was devastated. But I have influences from right across the musical map – I’m a big Radiohead fan but I try to stay in touch with what’s going on right now. Collectively we’re influenced by a number of bands – right now we’re all into At The Drive In. That was one band which really brought us together. I’m trying to hear what new bands like ourselves have to say.

rushonrock: Your music doesn’t sound anything like Nirvana or Radiohead so maybe the new bands are having an effect?

DR: We do hear all the time that we have that classic rock sound and it was surprising to me for a while. Now it’s not so surprising. But I was genuinely shocked when we first started hearing our name linked with that genre. People talk about Led Zeppelin – they’re a great band but I hardly ever listen to them. My parents didn’t listen to them. My dad was a Bob Dylan guy and my mum was into country and folk. I grew up listening to old blues and Crosby, Stills and Nash or Joni Mitchell. I got into hardcore when I got into my teens. I got into heavy music when I was 18. But classic rock passed me by and I was never a fan of it. 

rushonrock: Do you think it’s a generation thing that meant you missed classic rock?

DR: It could be. It was on its knees when I was a kid getting into grunge and then nu-metal came after that. So I suppose there wasn’t a lot of classic rock type music out there unless you looked very hard for it. All we really do is play the music that’s from our hearts. I hope when people see us live they’ll realise we come across a lot heavier than the sound they hear on the album. It’s a different world. It’s how we always saw ourselves. I’m very happy with the debut album – don’t get me wrong – but we’re going to try and get across that heavyness more on the next record. It’s complimentary being compared to some great classic rock bands but we want to elaborate on the follow-up and show people who we really are.

rushonrock: So have you seen the Nirvana live DVD from Reading yet?

DR: Not yet. But Kurt’s guitar playing in the early 1990s was life changing for me both as an individual and a musician. I was never a shredder kind of guy or into guitar gods but Kurt Cobain did something for me and shaped the way I play. There’s a lot of what Nirvana did which relates to early blues because a lot of the guys in the 20s or 30s were coming up from working class backgrounds and they didn’t really understand the technicalities of music. It was from the heart and that was the same with Kurt Cobain. He wasn’t a trained guitarist and none of us in The Parlor Mob took lessons – we’re just into music and play the way we feel. There’s something to be said about not really knowing what you’re doing! But I love Nirvana and everything they stand for. I never saw them live and that will haunt me to my dying day.