Rocko Dorsey & the Individuals
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Rocko Dorsey & the Individuals

Auburn, New York, United States

Auburn, New York, United States
Band Rock Punk

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Friday, July 02, 2004
By Beth Beer Cuddy
Staff writer

Even without their instruments, brothers Mike and Dave Rowe and Jon Arliss have an infectious energy.

The trio makes up Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals, a punkabilly band that will kick off the release of the CD "Making Our Mark" with a live performance July 9 at the Booker T. Washington Community Center in Auburn.

From there, the group hits the road in a white Chevy cargo van for stops at Fredonia, Long Island and Tennessee.

"Our goal is to make it and expand our horizons," said Mike Rowe, 20, of Niles, lead guitarist and vocalist. "That's why we're going out of state."

Rowe picked up a guitar nearly a decade ago and hasn't put it down since. He has written around 130 songs, which he said have all been copyrighted. He described the band's sound, punkabilly, as a combination of melodic punk music with a '50s-style influence.

Rowe said he became hooked when a guitar teacher taught him Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good."

Dave Rowe, 26, also of Niles, began teaching himself the drums five years ago to accompany his brother. Their first gig - at the now-defunct Red Monk coffeehouse in downtown Auburn - Dave kept time on a snare drum, cowbell and turned-over birdseed bucket.

An uncle later found a newspaper ad for a used drum set, which Dave said, "I played the death out of."

Arliss, 21, joined the band two years ago when the brothers were looking for an upright bass player. It was then that they discovered Arliss, whom they had never met, lived five minutes away in the hamlet of Owasco.

They say their image does not fit the stereotypical rock mantra of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

"We tell people on the road that after the show, we're going to have cake and ice cream and go to bed early," Arliss said.

"And sometimes, it's true," added Dave Rowe.

He then summed up the band's image: "We're like a 14-year-old's slumber party."

The band puts professionalism above anything else and is known for its consistency, reliability and timeliness.

"We're not flighty," Dave Rowe said. "We're not like, 'Oh by the way, we forget a drum set.' "

While onstage, they use alter egos. Dave's known as D.D. Mancuso, Arliss is Johnny Lovecakes and Mike Rowe is the band's namesake, Rocko Dorsey.

While playing basketball, Mike Rowe was nicknamed The Rock. When professional wrestler The Rock soared in popularity, the name was modified to Rocko.

Dave Rowe said he took his name from a deejay named Mad Man Mancuso, who locked himself into a studio playing Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" until the cops broke the door down.

"Our attitude is we're going to play this until someone knocks down the door to stop us," he said.

Arliss said his alias is "pretty much complete nonsense," although it has been brought to his attention that any song lyrics, stories or poems he writes contain references to food.

"That's why Jon's song on the album is instrumental," Dave said.

The trio spent six months in a basement studio in Auburn called Great State Sounds, piecing together the CD. Mike Rowe used the expertise he gained from earning an associate's degree in audio and radio production.

So far, they have stayed away from contacting any record labels.

"What we're trying to do is more like a grass-roots effort," said Dave Rowe. - Syracuse Post-Standard


Please note: The paper incorrectly called Mike Rowe by the name Mike Evans. This is a misprint.

By Jane A. Stebbins / Special to The Citizen

Mike Evans, aka Rocko Dorsey, is a real punk, but not in conventional sense.

On any given evening, you'll find this 20-year-old Niles native nattily dressed in some of the coolest rockabilly outfits, with his hollow-body Gretsch guitar slunglow on his shoulders. Evans first fell in love with rockabilly, an early form of rock and roll, at a young age.

"I've been interested in Rockabilly since I was 5," Evans said. "I saw 'Back to the Future' when Marty got up on stage and played 'Johnny B. Good' and I was hooked. ... When I actually started playing it, I got into the style of it all, clothing included."

While other young musicians were performing garage-band versions of Green Day and Nirvana, Evans was in his garage working on licks from such rockabilly luminaries as Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly.He also began to listen to today's rockabilly artists such as Brian Setzer, Butch Walker and Mike Viola.

Evans began his alter ego, Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals, five years ago.

"It was just a two-piece then, my brother David and I," Evans said. "We started playing battle of the bands and won a few as two people so we thought, 'Wow, we should get a third guy and we'll be a lot better.' Our bass player joined two years ago and we haven't stopped since."

Today, the band members include Dave, "DD Mancuso" and bassist Jon Arliss, "Johnny Lovecakes."

"My nickname, Rocko Dorsey, came from being called 'The Rock' when I was young. I began looking at band names such as Bill Haley and the Comets or Buddy Holly and the Crickets and decided this band needed to represent itself in the same way, so that's where Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals came from," Evans said.

Evans began to experiment with rockabilly, moving its already unique, rough sound into the next century.

"I wanted to combine punk, rock and rockabilly; it's the way I write music," Evans said. "On the new disc, there are tapping solos from the 80s. My writing style has gotten much more complex. When I started I wrote basic songs that you could sing and that stuck in your head and now I really go for it on every song. It has to be catchy, good, complex and something I just love or it is nothing to me too, but we are still bare bones punkabilly."

Rockabilly in the 1950s was also known for its clothing style, and Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals are no exception.

"Years ago, when people went to a swing or rockabilly band, they got all dressed up in zoot suits and sharp, button-down shirts," Evans said. "Standing out in a crowd is not a bad thing when it comes to separating oneself from the rest of the musical pack, and personally, I love the clothes. The shirts, the shoes, they're so cool.

"I think we fool most people when they first see us, because of how we look, but then we perform like we're at a punk show. We stand on amps and drums, jump around, get into the crowd and just kind of shock everyone. We have played with so many different styles of bands like Hardcore, Country, Punk, Rockabilly and Ska and somehow we always fit in no matter what."

Though he owns a few guitars, Evan's axe of choice is a Gretsch "Tennessee Rose," a hollow-bodied guitar that guitarist Carl Perkins made famous with his rockabilly work in the mid-1950s.

"The thing about Gretsch guitars are, they are so vintage looking, yet I always thought I could play metal and punk on it. Then I saw bands like Rancid and Get Up Kids playing them and knew I was right," Evans said.

Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals continue to have big musical dreams in 2004.

"We're working hard, and I know we won't stop until we achieve the success I feel is necessary for my passion," Evans said.

Rocko Dorsey and the Individuals will perform 7 p.m. Friday, with Almost Better and Bee Eater from Rochester, at the Booker T. Washington Community Center on Chapman Avenue in Auburn. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $2 per person.

From there, the band continues on to Long Island, New Jersey, Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn., and Alabama for some southern performance dates. - The Citizen


Discography

Making Our Mark - 2004
The Vendetta - 2002
Somewhere Better-2006
Nightmares-2008

Photos

Bio

Hailing from Upstate NY the three members of Rocko Dorsey are not a group of guy's trying to scare you, they want you to be scared of what you might miss. Combining an in-your-face live show with catchy melodies, tight arrangements, and the return of guitar solos, their mission is to entertain the audience by any means necessary.

Drawing comparisons to acts such as:
Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, The Living End, and The Clash the band has created a sound that is both familiar and completely unique. Although Rocko Dorsey is appealing to those who look for an image first, it is their substance that sets them apart.

Forming in 1998 with a simple love for music, Rocko Dorsey has grown into their life's work. With a keen mind for business as well as music the band now averages over 100 shows a year all of which are self booked and promoted. With a won't take no for an answer attitude, the band has played support for Australia's The Living End (Adeline/Reprise Records), The Lashes (Capitol Records), Reel Big Fish, Moth (Hey Domino), Wheatus (Montauk Mantis), Th' Legendary Shack Shakers (Yep Roc), Murder By Death (East West), New Model Army, O.A.R (Atlantic Records) and many others. With such a broad resume and list of influences it's guaranteed that you won't walk away without new hope for rock and roll.