Mr. Opporknockity
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Mr. Opporknockity


Band Rock Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music


"WTIM Interent Radio Interview"

Q: What's the door for?
A: Opening and Closing. Keeps you from the outside world. I prefer mine open.

Q: Do you use it on stage?
A: No, we just don't have the room to carry it around. There are shows we've played that had doors on the stage. Once there was one of those emergency exit siren/push plates on a door on stage. One of our songs calls for a police siren, so the bass player pushed the door open. The fire enigines came, every one was safe.

Q: Briefly describle the last party you played.
A: Hey, I like this interview!!!! Outside patio gig (the best!) Cops were there in twenty minutes. We still got our $200!

Q: How much money do you spend on beer each week?
A: Well, at the gigs we don't spend diddly (fantastic tech rider addition) At our weekly practice we go through about 30 beers. Doug and I go through about a case a week during our songwriting stints.

Q: What CD do you listen to the most?
A: We never listen to ours. Doug listens to the Old 97's, I'm the quintessential Pavement freak.

Q: Growing up, What was your favorite TV show?
A: Courtship of Eddie's Father

Q: Do you smoke?(Pot or Cigs)
A: Doug: Once and no Troy: Not in a long time and no

Q: Were do you see yourself in five years?
A: Oh Tim, I've got the answer to this quesiton saved on a hot key. . Five years from this minute, we will be headlining the Fox Theatre in Boulder CO promoting our sixth release with a major label. There will be women and money and good sound guys and guitar techs and women and free everything and opening bands and women (all of which we have a hard time finding now.)

Q: Thanks for the time
A: No Tim, Thank you!
- Tim Blain

"Chatting with Mr. Opporknockity"

Central Illinois acoustic duo Mr. Opporknockity, featuring the collective talents of Doug Gholson and Troy Roark, recently released its first CD, B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Door).

The five-song debut disc is a light mix of acoustic rock featuring strong, melodic, and spirited (albeit socially unconscious) songwriting. And with solid bookings in St. Louis, Chicago, Urbana, and elsewhere around the region, Mr. O is making something of a splash in the ocean of original music pouring out of the Midwest.

The band's name, by the way, is an allusion to an obscure, dyslexic pun about a piano tuner named Opporknockity, whose prowess with a tuning wrench earns him the motto, "Opporknockity tunes but once."

Illinois Times caught up with Mr. O's Troy Roark last weekend in cyberspace and conducted the following interview.

IT: What do you think of Springfield's bar scene for acoustic singer-songwriter acts? What would make it better?

Roark: I was hoping you were going to ask this question. I agree with Doug when he says that "it's nice to know that on almost any given night you can go to an open mic in this town and sing your guts out. Tom Irwin plays three nights a week in Springfield and is extremely supportive of the new songwriters out there. We've been fortunate to get our name out and have some contacts that helped us establish a following. It's tough to get 'discovered' in Springfield. That's why we're branching out regionally."

But I also think the scene squelches a lot of songwriters from getting out of their bedrooms an on to a stage. I don't think people know how lucky we are to have so many talented musicians in this city. The problem is that most of them are playing other people's music. Some bands in town can play a song on the radio down note for note. I've done it myself and I know it takes a lot of time. The fact is, if those musicians spent half as much time working on original material as they did learning every note of every song, Springfield, Illinois, could be another Austin, Texas. Ahhhh, I feel better.

There needs to be more showcases like Patchapaluusa at the large venues with media support (especially radio). We also need to bring in more national acts and let local original bands get the opening act billing. The Love Hogs, NIL8, and Swirl have done well regionally, but no one in the acoustic area. At least not yet.

The original musicians also need to be more aggressive in their marketing. It helps us all out because I have found that people who listen to local original music and are more likely to go and see another original band. WDBR has helped us out immensely by supporting our single "Lisa's Shirt."

IT: What are Mr. O's influences?

Roark: Doug's major influences include Billy Joel, Tom Irwin, Indigo Girls, Marillion, and his father (who toured playing guitar with Ike and Tina Turner). My influences are a little different. Mine include Ani Difranco, Uncle Tupelo, Merle Haggard (although I really don't like much country music), the Byrds, and CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival).

IT: Whom do you see as your audience?

Roark: Well, right now I guess our audience is the people who are into live music. We're bringing between 90 and 120 people to our gigs lately, so I guess that's our audience. On the other hand, I know a lot of younger people that have the CD who "can't get enough of it." I think it's a matter of getting into as many people's ears as possible. If they like it great. If not, too bad.

IT: Who do you write your songs for?

Roark: Doug says he writes hundreds of songs a year all based on what mood he's in at the time. I write about fifty songs a year, and most of those never make it off the page. As far as whom I write for, I definitely concentrate on the "it-had-a-good-beat-and-it-was-something-I-could-dance-to" philosophy.

We both want to do this [making music] for the rest of our lives. I think you have to write something that a lot of people are going to want to hear many times. "Lisa's Shirt" seems to be that way. I'm glad. Doug's favorite songwriters are those I've mentioned above as well as Sting and Elvis Costello. Mine include Jewel, Peter Gabriel, and Ben Folds, along with Sting.

IT: What are some of the bands you've been in?

Roark: Doug was most recently in My Dog Jake. He has also been in Ribbit, Town and Country, and The Freak Boys. I've spent the last five years in The Tongue Puppets.

IT: What is Mr. O up to now?

Roark: Right now we're concentrating on developing our local following, and beginning to play on a regional level. We've played in Chicago and we will be doing some shows in Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky in October. We're also beginning work on the next CD. The first one has sold so well that we're looking forward to getting the next one out early next year.

IT: What does Mr. O plan to be doing in five years?

Roark: Doug says that five years from this minute he wants to be doing a sound check at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, on a national tour promoting our fourth CD. In five years, I want a contract with a major label. We have the songs and the ambition. It will happen.

IT: How long did it take to record B.Y.O.D.?

Roark: We were in the studio for thirty hours total to record and master the CD. It was our first time producing our own project so we didn't know what we were doing. We only used three musicians: Chas Blythe, Doug, and myself. Doug and I laid down the basic guitar parts and lead vocals. Then Chas dropped in the bass line and I followed it up with the drum tracks. This is exactly opposite the way you should record a project like ours.

Chas was great. He did all of the bass tracks and solos, including that great lap steel solo in "Havana." When Chas came in to record his parts, he did everything in one night, which is a lot of work. The last thing we wanted him to do was the electric guitar solo in "Lisa's Shirt." We worked on it for an hour, but it all sounded like something he had done earlier in the night. We wanted something different.

If you know me, you know I have a hard time explaining myself sometimes. Well, this was one of those nights. I just couldn't tell Chas what I wanted him to do. So finally I tell him, "Look, I want you to do a rock 'n' roll solo, and this is the last time we are doing it." I didn't know if I was serious or not, but that next take was the one that landed on the CD. It's great.

IT: Do you have any upcoming shows in Springfield?

Roark: In October, we will be out of town a lot, but we will be at Breadstretchers on the 10th at 9 p.m. and at the Second Street Pub on the 20th (showcasing at Acoustic, Illinois) and the 24th at 9 pm with the full band.


Interview/Article Copyright©1997 Illinois Times, Inc.

- Illinois Times

"Missed Opporknockities"

"Excuse me, aren't you guys in Mr. Opporknockity? I just wanted to tell you guys that I think you're great, you're awesome. I just moved back here from Chicago, and I'm so happy to see a band as good as you guys, right here in Springfield. . ."

And there you have it. A rock star moment right here in little old Springpatch. A priceless interruption to a recent interview with the band, at a local pub.

The five members of Mr. Opporknockity, all present for the interview, include lead vocalist/guitarist Troy Roark, co-lead vocalist/guitarist Doug Gholson, drummer Mark Sanders, bassist Tom Irwin (yes the Tom Irwin), and utility man Chris Camp.

If radio play has any direct correlation with rock stardom, then Mr. Opporknockity is as deserving as anyone in these parts. Their 'hit,' "Lisa's Shirt," has been spinning on WDBR since it's release nearly two years ago.

For young bands looking to break into this difficult market, Mr. Opporknockity offers two solutions (1) Hunt down and trap your local station's program director. "We cornered Bill Anthony, the program director at WDBR, at a club. We told him, we're in a band, we're really good, and here, we want you to listen to this. A week later, he said 'Lisa's Shirt' is awesome. I'm going to put it on the air, and see what kind of response I get." said Roark; and (2) Get your music on a trade compilation. These are compilation discs put together by small record labels, and released, strictly to radio stations and others in the industry. Mr. Opporknockity landed another song "Mr. O Theme Song," from there second CD, A Discouraging Word, on one of these, and have garnered radio play as far away as Maine, Oregon, and Germany.

Mr. Opporknockity started as an acoustic duo, with Roark and Gholson. The two met at an open mic night at Bedrock, back in November of '96.

"I said, 'hey, I like your stuff. It's kind of similar to mine. Let's get together,'" explains Gholson.

"We were an acoustic duo for the first nine months, in fact, we recorded the first CD ourselves, a five song EP called BYOD," adds Roark.

The lack of venues available to acoustic duos lead them to form a full band.

"Second Street Pub opened up, and we wanted to play there. The guy booking the shows at Second Street said, okay great, we'll book this show, and do it with a band. So we were under the gun," says Roark. They called Sanders and Irwin, who both agreed immediately to join the band. "It was probably the fastest and easiest a band has ever been put together. Most of the time it's so hard to find someone who's going to be there, and dedicated right off the bat," Roark continues.

Camp joined the band in November 1998. "We were thinking we needed a utility guy, maybe one who could play guitar and violin," says Roark. Camp has yet to pick up the guitar or violin, but plays harmonica, accordion, and a pretty mean washboard.

Gholson speaks light-heartedly about his and Roark's first experience in the recording studio. "On the first CD, we walked into the studio, and had no idea what we were doing. We did everything backwards. But it more than served it's purpose. It sold a lot, and it allowed us to get some gigs that we otherwise wouldn't have got, and some radio play," he says. "We knocked the thing out in twenty hours, and got rid of 1000 of those CD's in just over a year," adds Roark. Not bad for a rookie effort.

A Mr. Opporknockity live show is anything but predictable. "Every show is different. Some nights, it's all original music, and sometimes we just mess around with cover tunes we've never played before," said Gholson, referring to a little game they like to call "jukebox roulette." "We'll have someone from the crowd pick a song off the jukebox, and if we don't know it, we'll make it up," says Camp.

And if you want to see Mr. Opporknockity from the comfort of a barstool, you better get there early. "We feel we have one of the largest followings in town," says Gholson." When we play the Alley, which is a smaller place, we fill it, but, when we play the Spot, we fill that place too," adds Roark.

These crowd-heavy performances are by no means a fluke. Mr. Opporknockity works hard to get the word out. According to Roark, "We reach about 1,100 people through our mailing list for every show."

Until the rock n' roll starts paying the rent, however, these guys are holding down some pretty demanding day jobs. Camp owns his own design business. Gholson is Associate Director of Admissions at Robert Morris College. Sanders is a security specialist at George Alarm, and Irwin, perhaps the hardest-working musician in Springfield, is a farmer by day. Roark, who doubles as a professional juggler when he's not rocking out, looks forward to the day when rock and roll pays the rent.

"We know what's paying the bills right now, but we all have aspirations of being music-making superstars, or at least living absolutely comfortable playing music," says Roark.

For Sanders, it's never too soon to start planning for that day. "I've already hired three people from my work to go on the road with us as Mr. Opporknockity's bartender, head of security, and airplane pilot," he says.

Springfield has been good to Mr. Opporknockity, and they share a pretty optimistic attitude about the capitol city. Irwin says, "Springfield's good because you're in a central location. You can get to the big cities within a couple hours, but you're not swallowed up by a big city."

For Gholson, the capitol city is the perfect stepping stone for a brighter future, he observes, "I really don't know that we would have gotten it in a bigger market, and I think this will allow us to do bigger and better things."

- Gary Hawthorne

- Illinois Times

"Opportunity Knocks . . . and Mr. Opporknockity answers"

On the afternoon of Aug. 18, guitarist Troy Roark of the Springfield rock group Mr. Opporknockity was paying a traffic ticket at the Sangamon County Courthouse when he got a call on his cellular phone. The caller introduced herself as Sally Weiskopf, manager of the Illinois State Fair Grandstand, and said the fair needed Mr. Opporknockity's help in solving a small problem.

Journey was scheduled for an 8 p.m. show two days later, but did not want to play in the evening daylight that would remain at that hour. Could Mr. Opporknockity fill a half hour in front of 6,000 or so people?

"I thought it was a prank," says Roark, whose band was already scheduled to play the Miller Light beer tent across from the Grandstand that night.

When he learned that the offer was no hoax, Roark did some quick maneuvering with the Miller people and arranged for rock group the Post War Fords to cover for his band in the beer tent. Mr. Opporknockity then got to fulfill a dream of virtually every young musician in Springfield: They played for a crowd of 6,400 plus in the Grandstand.

Opportunity knocked and Mr. Opporknockity answered.

"It was the first show I've truly been nervous at," recalls Roark.

For the five members of Mr. Opporknockity, playing before an arena-sized crowd was the capping moment of the summer. But that moment was the result of months of hard work playing in and around Springfield. What began as an acoustic duo of Roark and singer/guitarist Doug Gholson two years ago has become Springfield's most popular live band.

Drummer Mark Sanders and bassist Tom Irwin came nine months later, filling out the sound on Mr. Opporknockity's second CD, "A Discouraging Word." The final piece in the Opporknockity puzzle - and a key ingredient to the band's sound - arrived when utility player Chris Camp joined in November 1998. Camp, a graphic designer, had designed the cover art for "A Discouraging Word," and sat in with the band on harmonica at the CD's release party at the now defunct Second Street Pub.

The band has a fun pop sound that hovers somewhere between Hootie and the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies, and Dave Matthews Band. The band has found it's trademarks in the harmony vocals of Roark, Gholson and Camp, Camp's nimble harmonica playing, and the original songs of Roark and Gholson.

The best known of these is "Lisa's Shirt," an upbeat tune about a thrift store flannel shirt. The song highlights the band's penchant for humor and gave Mr. Opporknockity its biggest boost in name recognition when WDBR-FM 103.7 added it to its playlist.

The band's origins stretch back two years, when Roark and Gholson regularly played their own songs - individually - at the Tuesday night open mike nights at the Bedrock Bar, 225 E Monroe St. Both had played in numerous bands (Roark was in the acoustic group the Tongue Puppets, Gholson had been a member of My Dog Jake, Ribbit and Freak Boys) but had not played together. Each liked the other's songs, and the two decided that together they could fill a niche for an acoustic duo.

"We knew there was an audience for it because Doug had been doing Thursday acoustic nights at Kane's for some time and I was in the Tongue Puppets," says Roark, 27. "We knew if we got together, we could get maybe 50 or 60 people at a gig."

The two found fast success in their duet format and in 1997 recorded "B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Door)," a five song CD that featured Roark and Gholson augmented with other players. They used that disc to solicit gigs and found that many people who heard "B.Y.O.D." liked Mr. Opporknockity better as a band than a duo.

"For some reason, people are more likely to see you if you have a full band," says Gholson, 29, who is Director of Admissions at Robert Morris College.

Irwin, who is well known around Central Illinois for his Tom Irwin Band and also as the bass player for Rick "Elvis Himselvis" Dunham, was invited to play bass on what began as a temporary basis. Sanders, another Elvis Himslevis alum and veteran of numerous bands in Springfield, was called because he had sat in with the Tongue Puppets.

"I just thought it was a one-time deal," says Sanders, 36, who came on board for the recording of "A Discouraging Word."

Unlike Irwin, who has released several recordings of his own music, Sanders was new to playing and recording in a band that writes its own music. Now he wouldn't trade it for a year's worth of wedding receptions.

"I love the fact that we're making and recording our own music and the process of shaping it," Sanders says.

When Camp formally joined the band 10 months ago, it not only added a new palette of sounds to the group - Camp sings and plays harmonica, accordion and washboard - but it also opened up many of its songs. Neither Roark nor Gholson like to play flashy guitar solos, and Camp's agile harmonica playing became a perfect substitute.

Camp owns a graphic design firm, Duo Design and became familiar with Mr. Opporknockity's songs while designing the cover for "A Discouraging Word." At the November 1998 release party for the disc, Camp 30 sat in with the band on harmonica, an instrument he has been playing since he was in second grade.

"In the back of my mind I kept saying, 'I wish they'd ask me to be in the band,'" says Camp, a former member of the offbeat Springfield band Cheezy Messiahs. "I knew they were looking for a utility player."

Why didn't he just ask to be in the band?

"I didn't want to be presumptuous," Camp says.

That response is typical of what Sanders describes as the ego-free environment that has helped the band prosper.

"Everyone in this band is willing to work and willing to contribute," notes Camp. "We all genuinely enjoy each other's company."

Though Roark and Gholson come up with the songs individually, the tunes don't take shape until the band members have had their say. The songs on "A Discouraging Word" were played live numerous times before they were recorded, and changed substantially in the process. That's why writing credits go jointly to Roark and Gholson on all of the songs.

The band's more tongue-in-cheek songs, like "Lisa's Shirt" and "House has Wheels" usually come from Roark, while the more serious tunes ("Running Away," "This Way Again") begin with Gholson.

For the next CD, which the band hopes to have ready by spring 2000, the writing credits will go to the whole band, says Roark.

The band's sense of humor comes through in its choices of cover material.

"We don't really cover the songs. We totally break them down to their most basic form and do them our way," says Roark. AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," the disco classic "I Will Survive" and '80's relic "Walking on Sunshine" (originally done with a female lead vocal) are examples of songs that get such treatment.

"I think that's part of the draw of the live show," says Roark.

The combination of covers and originals, plus the band's notably nonabrasive sound, have brought it a wide audience that often includes families.

The band has a busy fall planned and in November will travel to college towns around Illinois in an effort to establish a college circuit for itself.

In the meantime, the members intend to savor their success.

"It's just a hoot doing what we do," says Camp. "It's so fun being in the spotlight. The band is really lucky."

by Matthew Dietrich (reprinted with permission)

- State Jounal Register

"Best of '98"

Best Local Band- Mr. Opporknockity

My house has wheels. It gets me where I'm goin', from Phoenix to San Antone. It's this big R.V. and this cheap guitar are the only things I'll ever own.

It's not Mr. Opportunity, or Mr. Upperknockity. Get it straight, Springfield. Mr. Opporknockity-singer/songwriting guitarists Troy Roark and Doug Gholson, bassist Tom Irwin, and drummer Mark Sanders-mixes lyrically and groove-oriented rock with a folk tinge to meld a distinctive acoustic rock sound. With two CDs under their straps (BYOD and A Discouraging Word), modest airplay on local radio station WDBR-FM, and a busy live-performance schedule, this "personable" and "original" music act warmed its way into Springfieldians' hearts. Even voters who hadn't actually heard Mr. Opporknockity talked of the band's "own sound," as if originality was the badge of distinction in cover-band land.

Combine quirky ballads with serious songs and you get a Mr. O. show that spells FUN in capital letters. Wathc out, world, these babies (Mr. O's is only a year old) will open for big acts Brother Kane and The Freddy Jones Band in Alabama later this summer. Readers also nominated Springfield cover band, F5, for its mainstream pop/rock repertoire and "house party"-like shows. Votes also went to long-time Springfield favorite, the Jane Hartman Trio, for its cool, jazzy sounds. -T.M.

- Illinois Times

"Best of '99"

Best Rock Band - Mr. Opporknockity

With a mailing list as big as Nebraska, a couple of tunes sitting comfortably on the WDBR rotation, and vocal harmonies that are sometimes just plain gorgeous, it's no wonder Mr. Opporknockity took home the gold in this catagory. Their live show is nothing short of a hoot, featuring such antics as jukebox roulette. You pick a song on the jukebox, and they'll do their best to play it. Crowd population alone is enough to cement their place as number one. Just try and find a seat at a Mr. O show, I dare you. Not quite three years old, with CD sales well into the four digits, and radio play as far away as Germany, Mr. Opporknockity has worked hard to earn their place as Springfield's favorite rock band.
- Illinois Times

"Best of '04"

Best original band

Mr. Opporknockity is a Springfield favorite. The quintet began as a duo in 1998, when buddies Troy Roark and Doug Gholson got together to sing and strum guitars. After WDBR introduced a Mr. O song called "Lisa's Shirt" into their regular rotation, the group expanded to a quartet with bass and drums. They later added a fifth member on vocals, percussion, harmonica, and accordion. They play a few bars, lots of special events, and keep a mailing list of a couple thousand fans notified of upcoming shows. Big events in the band's career include opening for Journey at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand and guesting on Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know public radio program when it was held last year in the Sangamon Auditorium at UIS. Their music is bouncy and fun. It's fun to dance to, and the words are good too. Future plans include promoting the new CD (it's their third) and continuing to expand their influence outside of the area. Oh yes, and keep writing those songs--Springfield digs 'em. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (TI)

- Illinois Times


B.Y.O.D - EP(1996)
A Discouraging Word - LP(1998)
Mr. Opporknockity "With Nuts!" - LP(2000)
The Greatest "O" on Earth - LP(2003)
Mr. Othology - LP(2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


If you've never seen the band before, and you happen to walk in while they are setting up, you might suspect Mr. Opporknockity is anything but a rock band. With accordions, a washboard, harmonicas, jingle bells, and guitars out the ying-yang, you might conjure up other ideas about this group. . .
Bluegrass band? Possibly.
Polka Band? Well, maybe.
Stick around for a few tunes and you realize that this is a rock band with a twist. Sure, they have some definite country influence, but what is coming off of that stage is some seriously fun rock & roll.
Mr. O (as their fans refer to them) hit you with a sonic slew that pulls from so many musical genres that you have to take your socks off to count.
And this isn't just a rock band. . . They are an original band with four CD's under their belt. Now, before you start heading for the door is search of a cover band, stick around and listen. Mr. O's songs suck you in. Their music is believable, honest, quirky, compelling, and super FUN. Some fans make comparisons to Barenaked Ladies, others hears a little Dave Matthews Band or Blues Traveler. Regardless, all fans agree that Mr. O has a sound of its own. Ask any listener what the "Mr. O Sound" is and they will give you a resounding "I have no idea!"
A great deal of Mr. Opporknockity's uniqueness comes from their different musical influences. From Steve Earle to AC-DC, Hank Williams Sr. to the Beatles, The White Stripes to The Police, the Mr. O sound is a cauldron of flavors seasoned by every member of the band.
So sit back (if you can find a seat) and catch Mr. Opporknockity somewhere at a venue near you. You can't miss them; they are the rock/country/bluegrass/polka looking band setting up on stage.