We posed some questions to Mark
Rozzo about being a band in Brooklyn,
and subway performers...
Free Williamsburg: Is Brooklyn Better?
Mark Rozzo: I love living in Brooklyn; it reminds me
of places like London or Dublin -- cities you can walk around
in and get lost. I like the bricks and the leaves on the trees.
Of course, I probably wouldn't live here if it weren't so
close to Manhattan. Still, I think Brooklyn is the most happening
part of New York city right now. Manhattan has become a giant
mall: Virgin Megastore, ESPNzone, Williams-Sonoma, H&M,
Banana Republic, Starbucks... I think you get more of an old
New York flavor in Brooklyn than you do in Manhattan. I also
think Brooklyn is a more creative place because people live
here to get stuff done rather than to just pretend, and no
self-respecting indie rocker can afford to live in Manhattan
without a trust fund.
Since I've lived in Brooklyn now for almost 8 years (after
stints in SoHo, the East Village, and Chelsea), I've come
to view Lower Manhattan as a kind of New York with training
wheels, a theme park where young people end up who don't yet
know anything about New York. There are probably about five
people who actually grew up in New York who live in Manhattan
below 14th street. In Brooklyn, I might be surrounded by a
lot of newcomers, too, but I'm also surrounded by people who
have lived in my neighborhood (Boerum Hill) all their lives.
I go to produce shops and cafes and hardware stores and butchers
that have been here god knows how long. There's a neighborhood
vibe here, a community vibe that extends to musicians, too.
That doesn't exist anymore in Manhattan.
Of course, most of this is driven by economics. Still, if
I hit thejackpot, I'd probably prefer to stay in Brooklyn
than move into a doorman building uptown or into a tribeca
Champale spends most of its time in a blue-carpeted basement
in Park Slope that has barn siding on the walls and which
is conveniently down the street from a bar called Great Lakes.
They have our cd in the jukebox and the bartender is always
nice to us. Our cello player lives two blocks from me with
his girlfriend and their baby. I see other musicians out here
in Williamsburg -- all the time, as well as tons of writers.
(writers -- at least writers under 35 -- don't live in Manhattan,
you may have noticed.) It's mellow, it's friendly, it's real.
Free Williamsburg: Who's your favorite subway performer?
Mark Rozzo: My favorite subway act is the one that Ira
(our drummer) and I dreamt up, which would be the two of us
dressed in white jeans, blue keds, t-shirts, and windbreakers
with racing stripes playing hot rod music. Stuff like "GTO."
it would be so uptight and jive. It would be hilarious. Actually,
"GTO" is one of my favorite all-time songs and I've
recently started up an e-mail friendship with John Buck Wilkin,
the guy who wrote and sang it with Ronnie and the Daytonas.
He liked the Champale record.
As for subway performers who actually do exist, I really dig
that dude with the trumpet and beatbox, but I haven't seen
him in a while. I think he might only come out during the
Free Williamsburg: Does Champale have a Band Van?
Mark Rozzo: We used Nada Surf's giganto van last winter
when we were down south. Other than that, we tend to tool
around town in an older, pre-SUV white jeep cherokee that
looks like a tonka truck that was fed growth hormones as part
of some scientific experiment. A most banal automobile, alas.
And it's way too small. There's always people on each
others' laps and guitar cases ramming into the backs of our
Champale's debut album, "Simple Days" was released
this summer to unanimously good reviews. Visit
their label's website, Pitch-A-Tent, to buy it, and visit
the bands own site
champalebungalow.com for more band news, reviews, and
Champale has two CMJ appearances coming up in September: Saturday
September 15 at Mercury Lounge -- a pitch-a-tent showcase
featuring Champale, Gem (members of Guided by Voices), and
David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker) and Sunday, September
16 at Luna Lounge -- A release party for a Big Star tribute
record that they contributed to.