INTERVIEW: A quick chat with Rocko Jerome on Jet-Set Cobra’s first & last show!

Writer Rocko Jerome missed his time spent on stage, so he made some moves. The idea is to re-assemble Jet-Set Cobra, a band of bad asses for a one night only affair, the kind of thing that lives hard and dies young. Check them out below and catch them this Thursday at Stevie Rays, where with $5, you can snag a limited edition CD by the band at the door (admission is free!). We caught up with Jerome to learn about a one-in-done set, his approach to music, and advice!

Never Nervous: So, you’re playing a one off show. What prompted that? What do you hope as the take away?

Rocko Jerome: I got an opportunity to open a show for an artist of some note, so I asked some close friends who happen to be the best players I know if they would be interested. They all said yes, and we were off to the races. There ended up being some issues with the venue, and we got kicked off the card. We already had some practice time in and saw no reason to waste it, and decided that it would be better to do the thing elsewhere on our own terms anyway.

NN: Tell me about the band. How did you assemble a band for a one off show? How much time have you all spent getting it together?

RJ: We’ve been practicing about a month. They’re all guys I’m tight with. Shawn Coots and I had been tossing the idea of a band around for years, we had the name Jet-Set Cobra maybe 4 or 5 years ago. He’s a guitarist in the Blues idiom, one of those guys who can round out a riff he just improvised without it sounding like noodling. Really important, because that 12 bar is the road you drive on in a band like this.

“I think it’s disrespectful to the audience to keep them waiting for hours while you screw around.”

RJ: Deathmetal Dave is the bassist, and he’s an in-demand cat. He’s always in about 4 bands at a time. I don’t know if he wants people to know this, but he can lay it down funky. One time almost a decade ago when he was hammered, I was at his place when he pulled out his bass and started working out on it. I was impressed. For this, he initially said “I don’t really know any of these old songs we’re doing,” and a lot of them were originally played on an upright, whereas he plays electric. I told him if people want to hear a record, they should go buy a record, and said I trusted him to let loose. He has.

Dave Williams has been playing drums as long as I’ve been on the planet, and he’s no joke back there. Pure propulsion. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that he’s the best drummer in town. A real music scene veteran, was part of a lot of 80’s debauchery at the Toy Tiger. Been around, got around. Stone cold professional. I got lucky and caught him between bands with this. His new full time thing is called Right Turn Clyde. He’s the real deal.

The idea is to do this, be the hottest Rock & Roll band around for about 40 minutes, then walk away.

NN: How would you describe your music to the uninitiated?

RJ: I never pushed this hard, because I wanted us to flow, so much so that we just have one tune in common, but my main idea was that I wanted to be like the Sonics. The Sonics were a bunch of kids in Tacoma, Washington circa 1966 who stumbled upon a particularly virulent strain of R&B. They all egged each other on to be more and more visceral; it sounds like being in a hydroplaning Corvette going 110 feels. it’s the Rock & Roll Dream all the way, just nuts. There’s been this tendency to retroactively try to put them in the Punk bag, which I resent. How about we just call your NOFX records Emo, now? Let it be what it be.

Anyway, I want people to get that it’s not too complicated, that there’s no need to be hung up on genre like it means anything, and to cut loose out there.

NN: What goes into putting on a great show?

RJ: First of all, we’re playing one time, on time, so be front-and-center at 9 PM next Thursday when this happens if you want to be, and that’s all you ever have to do about this. I think it’s disrespectful to the audience to keep them waiting for hours while you screw around, and I’m also not a huge fan of getting a barrage of loaded invitations to see the same groups all the time. We aren’t screwing around with this.

The other thing, we kept this tight and right. 40 minute set, no fat. A handful of whiz-bang tunes. No ballads, no preaching. It’s a happening. They’re covers, but we were deliberately not pedantic about this. This is no Oldies show, we used what came before as a general pattern, and we will do this our way.

“I’ll be content to hit it and quit it.”

NN: Why just one show? Is it possible that you might play more than one if this goes well?

RJ: Going well will mean we did it right and never have to do it again. Setting up a one-nighter feels like a prison break or a heist. You make a plan, execute it, bust it right, and you’re done. Have a goal, hit the goal. Unless you’re the Rolling Stones and you only have to see each other on stage at the sold out show on the world tour you do every few years, every band will break up. Put Mick and Keith in a van for a day and a half, one of those cats isn’t coming back alive. This is a somewhat volatile group of men I’m dealing with, here. Four strong personalities with our own lives to lead, nothing to prove. I’ll be content to hit it and quit it.

NN: What do you think you miss the most about performing?

RJ: In bands from before I used to really work through my problems up there for the benefit of an audience. I don’t miss that, although at the time, it was an addiction. The people I know now didn’t know me, then. I could charitably be described as a “limited” singer, but I can get up there and do something, make a move. I do look forward to letting people know that about me.

NN: Give us one piece of advice.

RJ: No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what you tell yourself- people do what they want to do, and they don’t do what they don’t want to do.