The Wig's Q & A with Rocky Votolato
Rocky Votolato - March 3, 2004 - photo credit: Emily Finkel
March 11, 2004
TW: Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
RV: Dallas, TX and some surrounding small towns originally.  Seattle, WA for the last ten years or so... My childhood was very rural.  I loved growing up in the country.

TW: What lead you to music?
RV: My uncle.  He used to play songs for us and then ended up giving my older brother his guitar.  We all just took it up from there.

TW: At what point did you decide music was "it," what you were going to do?
RV: I guess when I was fifteen at a Jawbreaker concert.  If I remember correctly it was after seeing them and then seeing Radiohead in the SUP Hall in downtown Seattle with a crowd of about 200 on the "Bends" tour.  That pretty much made my mind up, which was already leaning that way.

TW: Of all things you could do, why be a musician?
RV: Because there are so many aspects; performing, writing, traveling, meeting people.  It definitely never gets boring.  But the real reason I do it is to write.  I like the writing aspect much more than the other stuff.
TW: How did you start the process of becoming a musician?
RV: Start writing songs and see if you're any good at it...

TW: Why have you chosen to be a solo artist?
RV: It's simplistic.  I've always written everything on an acoustic guitar anyway, so it makes sense for me.

TW: You play Seattle often, do you have a favorite venue here?
RV: I like the Crocodile.  The Sunset Tavern is cool too.  For all ages shows The Graceland works.

TW: Do you get nervous taking the stage?
RV: Not that often anymore.

TW: What goes into your preparation for a show?
RV: If I'm not on tour playing every night then I have to make sure I've played the songs within the last week before I go on.  I always write a setlist five or ten minutes before I go on.  I have to wait and see what I'm in the mood to play.  That's pretty much it.

TW: Is there one song that you LOVE to play live?
RV: Mix Tapes/Cellmates.

TW: Are there any memories from the road that you remember in particular?
RV: There have been tons and tons of good things that have happened, but the one thing that sticks out the most is having my guitar fall out of the back of the trailer on tour with The New Amsterdams.  It started pouring rain when we realized that the trailer was open and all of the guitars had fallen out.  I remember running in the rain next to Matt Pryor and just laughing our asses off.  It wasn't as funny when we realized that one of the guitars had been run over and that mine and one other had been stolen off the road.  It all worked out though.  I like my new guitar much better.

TW: If you could tour with any band or artist who would you choose?
RV: The Weakerthans, Wilco... and I'd like to go out with Bonnie Prince Billy sometime.

TW: Do you read reviews?  What importance do they have to you?
RV: I usually do'nt unless someone points them out to me.  I don't need anymore criticism than I already give myself.

TW: How do you measure your success?  By how you feel? The critics? The fans?
RV: I measure it more by just being able to keep playing music and affording to feed my family and pay rent and shit.  Writing and recording songs I'm happy with is important as well.

TW: If you could have the career of any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why would you want their career?
RV: Johnny Cash.  He was always a bad ass and very uncompromising.  I loved the way he carried himself and the kind of shit he wrote about.

TW: What remain your goals at this point?  Where would you like to go from here?
RV: If I can keep making records I'm happy with and I'm able to continue playing music, I'm happy.
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interview by Ashley Graham