We had the good fortune of connecting with Rob Roth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rob, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I grew up in Valley Cottage, a New York suburb about forty minutes north of New York City. As I child, my sister and I had lots of exposure to music and going to Broadway musicals was something we did somewhat regularly. My Mom played piano, but only as a requirement for being a kindergarten teacher. My Dad listened to Jazz, Opera and loved Sinatra – so we heard a lot of that as well. My parents encouraged us to play instruments, my sister followed in my Mom’s footsteps with the piano and I stumbled my way thru playing the recorder, clarinet, drums and finally the guitar when I was 12. As a father of two, I can appreciate their patience and encouragement with the two of us banging away on the piano and drums/recorder/clarinet and then the guitar (with an amp) and continuing to be supportive. As a teenager I spent a lot of time playing with friends and woodshedding in my bedroom. It was loud and without context, I’m sure it was fairly unmusical. In fact, after my first High School Jazz band concert – my Mom said to me with no irony “Your father and I had no idea how good you were”. It was a funny moment. As an adult, I was curious if there were any musicians in our family and was shocked to learn that my Grandmother was a member of the chorus of The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. It was comforting to know that music was something that was in the family. I wish I was able to talk to her about her musical adventures – being a woman and an immigrant in those times, she must have had some amazing stories.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I currently play in 3 bands: Soulhound an original funk/soul/jam band, Johnny Eats Cake original and cover party rock and Atlanta Soul Power: A Tribute to James Brown. I also occasionally sub for other bands. I have other bands and projects including working on music for short films as well as some session work that I do from my home studio. I think what I need to bring to a musical situation depends on the context. I was in a singer songwriter’s band for a few years and my job was to support her and her songs, keep the energy up and step up when I had a solo. In Soulhound, as a songwriter I have more latitude to put together the arrangements and shape the song’s direction. In a band like the Atlanta Soul Power, we play James Brown’s music like he would live. So what that means for me in the context of that group is to stay in my lane and play my part in the rhythm section. That could mean playing the same part for seven minutes or, if asked by “James” I take a solo, but it’s never the same twice so you really have to focus. When you record parts for someone’s song, sometimes you get very specific direction on parts and sounds…sometimes it’s just “play this”. In the end, my job is to please the artist and their ideas of what is needed to best serve the song. If the artist is happy, I’ve done my job.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in South Forsyth county so I’d probably go grab some insane doughnuts at Dutch Monkey doughnuts or Bagels at B&B Bagels…after a carb/sugar boost either head to the mountains for a hike or fish and hang out at Lake Lanier. There are a ton of great music venues and small outdoor amphitheaters we could go to as well. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As I mentioned, my parents encouraged and supported my music. They saw me playing for what it was: therapeutic, a creative and intellectual endeavor, and most of all fun. My wife has been supportive of my music, loud rehearsals at the house, putting up with me stopping her mid-sentence to go record a song idea that I needed to document…not to mention all the less-than-glamorous smokey bar gigs where she ran the merch table. It’s impossible to be where I am today without them. Just as important, one of my high school music teachers recognized my abilities and really encouraged me to peruse music and take it seriously. It was a huge push forward for me and helped me to see my relationship with music in a very different way. So, a shout out to Anita Brown who is also an accomplished composer and band leader. Finally, I’ve been lucky to play with some really talented people and there is no way I could list them all: The guys in my band Johnny Eats Cake and Atlanta Soul Power…current and former members of my original Funk/Soul/Jam band Soulhound like Byron Fullmer, Brian Hudson, Jairaj Swann, Aaron Kaufman, Greg Kirkland Sr and Stephen Keown (who’s also in Johnny Eats Cake). Finally, Oliver Nichols who I’ve been performing and writing songs with in Soulhound for almost twenty years. We come from such different backgrounds and places and yet it works so well – I’m very proud of the music we’ve written.
Other: Soulhound https://www.facebook.com/soulhoundatlanta https://www.instagram.com/soulhoundatlanta/ https://www.youtube.com/user/SoulhoundAtlanta/videos Johnny Eats Cake https://www.facebook.com/johnnyeatscake https://www.instagram.com/johnnyeatscakeband/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS7fa4NrkoLgp1bgD01GY5Q/videos Atlanta Soul Power https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaSoulPower/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVRjn8R29eyZTBNvgA5JyYw/videos https://www.instagram.com/atlantasoulpower/
Mark Turner Ted H Easley Amy Roth Tom Kettles L.M. Pane