The GnR Syndicate catches up with Rob Carlyle of The Compulsions
Posted: 2011-07-30 22:37:57
Photo by Roderick Angle
The GnR Syndicate: Lets start with Beat the Devil, what can listeners expect to hear?
Rob Carlyle: I’ve been describing it as a harder, heavier, modern day version of Some Girls [by the
Rolling Stones]. What I mean is, we put our own spin on a lot of different genres and we borrow from a lot of
different styles: funk, punk, hardcore, electronica, psychedelia, whatever. You’ll hear a lot of different
influences on there: everyone from AC/DC and Motorhead to Prince and Pink Floyd. And even though no two songs sound
alike, they all work together and they all sound like the Compulsions. I’ve always admired bands like the
Stones, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith for being able to pull that off.
The GnR Syndicate: Are these a collection of new songs or something you’ve been working on for a while
Rob Carlyle: Half the songs have been in the works for a while, some as far back as 2004, and the other half
were written and recorded earlier this year.
The GnR Syndicate: I really dig that slow bluesy groove in “Ea$y Money.” Was there any particular
event that inspired this song? Is this based on anybody or anything in particular?
Rob Carlyle: The hooker in the second verse was inspired by the sex scandals you hear about in the news. And
as far as the drug dealer in the first verse is concerned, no comment.
The GnR Syndicate: Who is the female backup vocals on that track?
Rob Carlyle: That’s my good friend Mekia Denby. I first saw her singing in the clubs with her band.
Incredible voice and a very cool person. I’d love to work with her again.
The GnR Syndicate: Will she be singing on any other tracks from this album or future tracks?
Rob Carlyle: That’s the only song on the album with female backing vocals but there’s an
unfinished track in the works that might need a chorus of female voices. It’s still too early to know for
sure, but Mekia would be the first call I’d make.
The GnR Syndicate: Tell me about “Ya Never Got Me Down.”
Rob Carlyle: The title was taken from a line in Raging Bull, the part where Jake LaMotta taunts Sugar Ray
Robinson. Except I turned it into a break up song. I figured if the girls have Will Survive” [by
Gloria Gaynor] then the guys need their own anthem.
The GnR Syndicate: Any upcoming shows? Tours? Recent shows you’d like to talk about?
Rob Carlyle: These days, I’m just trying to finish up the new songs and finalize the album art so
there’s no upcoming shows to announce right now. Our last show was a couple months ago at the Hudson Hotel.
Pretty much the entire New York rock scene was there along with some unsuspecting hotel guests. It was a blast. We
debuted two new songs from the upcoming album that night, “Eat My Dust” and “Hired Gun.”
The GnR Syndicate: How did you get hooked up with Frank and Richard?
Rob Carlyle: In the mid-90s I saw them playing together in other local bands and I was immediately
impressed. Years later, after the first Compulsions line up disintegrated, I brought them in to record with me.
The GnR Syndicate: Is there anything stopping you from getting out on the road?
Rob Carlyle: Yes. I can’t afford to take musicians of this caliber out just yet and I refuse to settle
for anything less. If fans want us to come to their town, the best thing they can do is buy our music online.
Comments and “Likes” on Facebook are nice but when it comes to attracting booking agents, managers and
record labels: money talks.
The GnR Syndicate: How is touring usually financed? By the record company? Management group? Band?
Rob Carlyle: It usually starts with the band. So again, if fans want to see us in their town, they should go
online and buy all the Compulsions records right now. Otherwise, it probably won’t happen.
The GnR Syndicate: When half your band is in GNR, what do you do when the Axl phone rings and it’s time
for them to go on tour again?
Rob Carlyle: Wait until everyone’s available.
The GnR Syndicate: How often are you guys able to get out there and play?
Rob Carlyle: Not often enough. Two or three times a year.
The GnR Syndicate: What are you doing when you’re not playing?
Rob Carlyle: I’m almost always writing songs. I wrote four new ones in the past couple weeks in between
mixing the upcoming record. The titles are “Hatred,”, “House Of Smut,”, “IStill Got The
Hots For You, Baby” and “Rock N’ Roll Nightmare.”
The GnR Syndicate: What’s your back history? Have you always been in NYC?
Rob Carlyle: I was born in Staten Island, New York. When I was a little kid, my first favorite band was The
Monkees. Then I “discovered” the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and everyone else. At around 13, I saw
Let’s Spend The Night Together [Rolling Stones concert film] on HBO and couldn’t wait to move to
Manhattan and join a rock n’ roll band. Which is where I am now. I’ve been around the world a bit but New
York has always been my home.
Photo by Photo by Lee Seidenberg
The GnR Syndicate: How did you go from seeing that Stones movie to becoming a musician yourself?
Rob Carlyle: Up until that point, I’d never thought about the players when I listened to music. I was
just blown away by the sound coming out of the speakers. But when I saw Keith and Ronnie in action, they made
playing look like so much fun, I just had to go out and get a guitar.
The GnR Syndicate: You should open for Guns, thoughts? Most of their opening bands suck.
Rob Carlyle: That’d be an amazing opportunity for the Compulsions but unfortunately it’d probably
be a serious conflict of interest because Frank and Richard also play in Guns. Plus, I don’t know if anyone
out there could actually play two arena-style sets in a row.
The GnR Syndicate: How do you view the state of rock n’ roll nowadays in the marketplace?
Rob Carlyle: This relates back to my description of the next Compulsions record. To me, rock n’ roll
has always been about mixing the black man’s blues with the white man’s folk music and coming up with
your own sound. It’s also about looking to the future with a really strong understanding of the past and
present. That being said, I don’t hear any new rock n ’roll bands in the marketplace right now. I hear a
lot of bands stuck in a genre or trying to replicate a certain time in rock history. If you look back at the last
three Compulsions EPs, you’ll hear influences ranging from nu metal and industrial to country and Southern
rock to hip hop and reggae and more. And it all hangs together. We don’t discriminate. That’s rock
n’ roll, the neighborhood mutt. As far as I’m concerned, The Compulsions are the only new rock n’
roll band out there these days.