Posted On 05 Jun 2017
Meet Rob Jennings! “The Crowd is Here” is the lead-single from his debut album “The World Was on My Side”, arriving in July.
Rob has been busy. Having released an impressive 25 EPs/singles at 27 years old, he has the depth of a seasoned songwriter, an an outlook of a young man finding his way. Years in the making, Jennings is excited to share a taste of his first full-length album. He takes influences from Brian Wilson and The Beatles, and infuses the life of modern arrangement and rich production into “The Crowd is Here”. The mix is like that aged Smile record on your shelf, but suddenly it sounds like the record of tomorrow. Add the mellotron, three-part harmonies, and of course Jennings’ “unique tenor voice” and what you get is a stamp of a songwriter who is here to stay.
“The Crowd is Here” is a follow up to the 2015 The Boulevard Gone EP, which You Don’t Know Jersey describes as “beautiful, emotion-filled and soulful”. Having already performed at the top NYC venues like The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall, and having held residency at The Bowery Electric, Jennings takes a leap in time with the vintage-modern “The Crowd is Here.”
Learn more about Rob Jennings in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
No problem! I’m actually at my apartment right now listening to a podcast. I’m addicted to them.
How is 2017 treating you so far? Did you approach the start of this year any differently than you did last year?
So far so good. I feel a little more motivated this year since the album is coming out. I hope to get it into as many ears as possible and I hope people like it.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your first musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today? If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
I actually wanted to be a director when I was little. My parents bought me this huge camera and I’d make little movies with it. Then my uncle gave me a toy guitar and that was probably the first time I really thought about learning how to play. I can’t really see myself doing anything else other than writing music and performing. It would have to be something creative. I’d probably try to be a filmmaker or a writer.
In July, you will be releasing your debut album, “The World Was On My Side”, so can you talk about putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you at all about the process?
Half of the album is made up of songs that I had written 7 years ago and never properly recorded. Whenever I had writers block, I would come up with these really short songs to take the pressure off of writing a full tune with a bridge, chorus, etc. It started off just as an exercise but then I began to really like the idea of connecting them to the full songs on the album.
There are a couple 40 second / 1 minute micro songs that go directly into the larger songs. I like the cohesiveness of that. That’s something that I admire a lot about the SMILE album by Brian Wilson. The pocket symphonies and the motifs on that album are great. The melody in one song is a violin part in another song and so on. I took a lot of inspiration from that.
What was the inspiration for your album’s lead single, “The Crowd is Here”? Typically, how do you go about putting a song together from beginning to end?
I was messing around with my sampler one night and I came across this song called “Mister Funk” by Miguel De Deus. I sampled the first ten seconds of it and in the background there are all of these people shouting and partying. I started playing guitar to it and the first words I sang were “the crowd is here.” I took that simple concept and centered the lyrics around a specific memory I have of being in an extremely crowded night club in Asbury Park. I always write the music and the melody first. It takes me a bit longer to come up with the lyrics.
The Boulevard Gone was a little more folky than this album. There are way more acoustic guitars on that one. This album has a lot of 12 string electric guitars on it and it’s more psychedelic. I didn’t want to make a singer songwriter type album with just me and an acoustic guitar. I wanted it to be colorful and experimental. I also wanted it to sound like it was made by a rock band.
How do you think you have grown as an artist since your previous releases?
I think my voice has definitely gotten better. It took me a long time to get comfortable with singing in the studio because it’s a lot different than singing live. I double my voice in the studio and it sounds a lot more powerful to me. That’s the method I use now. I’ll record a scratch track, sing over it once, delete the scratch and then sing over the other vocal. (Laughs)
Do you have plans to tour a lot with this record this summer? What venues would you love to play at one day? What has been your favorite place at so far?
I definitely want to get on the road when the album is done. I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about doing that. I would love to play at any of the big festivals some day. All of the best venues in NYC like Rockwood Music hall, The Bitter End are great but I love playing at Pianos. I always have a great time there and people show up to listen to new music, so you get a bit of a built- in crowd. It’s really refreshing.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Like I mentioned before, I was really inspired by SMiLE. I was also heavily influenced by The Zombies, The Beatles, Love and Big Star for this album. Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” also crept in there as well because there are a lot of bells and saxophone on my album. I listened to it the other day and was surprised by how much that album influenced the arrangements on mine. It was an unconscious thing I guess. I would like to make an album with another songwriter some day, but I don’t know who yet. Any of my musician friends would be fun to work with.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I hope that my music inspires people to be creative just like my favorite artists have inspired me. A lot of my songs don’t have the happiest subject matter, but hopefully they help people who can relate to some of the things I sing about.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Just that I’m excited for people to hear the album and I hope they have as much fun listening to it as I had making it!