Review Fix Exclusive: Mike Ruocco Interview: A New Journey
His fans are with him for this journey, as he releases his new solo album, “The Rise. The Ride. The Risk,” this week.
Although some may be first introduced to his music with this album, that doesn’t mean he’s a newbie to the business. It’s the only thing he ever wanted to do.
“Music was always a big part of my household growing up. The record player always had music spinning. My father was a professional singer, my mom sang to me all the time, so I was exposed to music from as early as I can remember,” said Ruocco.
It’s always affected him more than anything else..
“When I listened to music, I felt every lyric. I was totally encompassed by every chord and solo,” said Ruocco. “My natural next step was to start making music of my own and that’s what I did.”
At age 12, he started his first band, PLUNGE with some school friends. They found moderate success in the mid-Atlantic scene. Simultaneously, he joined another Hometown act named SR-71, signed to RCA Records, as a bassist and provided backing vocals.
But Pop Punk wasn’t where his heart was. Ruocco first listened to 1950s and 60s music growing up. The first concert he attended was a Beach Boys show. He was hooked on them from the start. He also credits Elvis Presley as a huge influence on him as a “Rockstar Frontman.” As he grew up, he his taste matured and were stuck on Aerosmith.
Once he discovered 1980’s Hair Metal, he found his niche. He considers himself a huge Def Leppard fan, also along with Bon Jovi, Poison and Motley Crue. That’s somewhere where his sound begins..
“I’ve taken little pieces of music that I’ve come from and that has filled me to what I am today as an artist,” he said.
In 2004, he came back to PLUNGE. The band signed with Union Entertainment Group. Not long after, they signed a deal with Columbia Records, but their debut album, “Superhuman” wasn’t made until they moved to EMI Records and released it in 2007.
At the end of 2006, Ruocco started Cinder Road. They were active through early 2011. In that time, the band found some success- they toured with Kiss and Daughtry and Ruocco got a job as a Staff Songwriter for BMG in 2009. Cinder Road also played overseas in Europe and Southeast Asia.
In 2011, he took a risk- he began to write his solo record. He felt the time was perfect.
“Some of the guys in Cinder Road were getting married, some of the original members had left to pursue other things and I felt like it was the Universe’s way of telling me, ‘Now is the time for you to take a shot at this solo thing.’”
As an independent artist, he had the ability to take his own creative direction. He feels it has paid off and can’t wait for everybody to hear the results.
“I really feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve done thus far as far as my songwriting is concerned,” said Ruocco. “I really went with my gut on the song choices and I picked songs that were diverse.”
Ruocco’s job at BMG helped him put this album together.
“Writing songs is a part of my daily job,” said Ruocco. “However, sometimes as a songwriter, when you write a song, you’ll feel like, ‘Man, this is something special, this is something I want to keep for myself, this is something I don’t want to give to another artist.’ I felt that way about a lot of these songs on the new album.”
Ruocco made some decisions with his music that he wouldn’t have in the past.
“I expanded a little bit and put some songs that were stylistically different from things I did in the past, on this album, which I’m really happy about,” said Ruocco.
Ruocco’s latest single, “Too Late,” allowed him to send the perfect message to his fans.
“’Too Late’ talks about a relationship that has seen its difficulties,” said Ruocco. “I try to leave some of the interpretation open for the listener in that this could be a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a relationship at work, or even a friendship.”
Either way, the song’s theme with relationships and deeply profound lyrics, almost anybody can relate.
“Relationships take a lot of work, there are a lot of ups and downs. At times, it can feel like we’re on a roller coaster,” said Ruocco. “But if the person that you’re thinking about is important to you, then it’s never too late to say you’re sorry or to make changes to yourself or to them. I wanted this to have a positive spin, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that there was hope.”
Ruocco is happy as a solo artist, but admits nothing has really changed for him.
“I’ve got a great band behind me, so it doesn’t feel much different than it did when I was actually in a band,” said Ruocco. “It’s different for me, but at the same time, it’s like starting all over again.”
That doesn’t mean he isn’t ready for this new chapter in his life. He’s ready to take on all obstacles, as is expected with any musician.
“I feel like a whole new sense of adventure,” said Ruocco. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to try to make a name for myself as an individual and a solo artist and to continue to build my brand.”
To promote the new record, Ruocco has played various Radio promo tours. They’ve toured out on the Midwest and plan to play a few shows on the East Coast before they head out West for some more Radio Promo dates. They hope by mid-Summer to be out on a Club tour.
He may be on his own now, but he didn’t forget his musical roots in terms of his future plans. He hopes to put out records with his previous bands sometime down the road.
Ruocco has no fear when he plays shows, that environment is one he constantly thrives in.
“I feel most comfortable when I’m on stage, it’s what I live to do,” said Ruocco. “I enjoy writing music, creating, recording, but more than anything, I enjoy touring and traveling and playing shows to different people in different cities in different countries all over the world.”
He likes to travel plenty in his free time, it’s a big thing for him.
“Over the years, I’ve made a lot of friends around the country and around the world and I’d love to keep up with all those people,” said Ruocco.
In addition, he loves to be outdoors by the beach on the water and throw parties. He likes to invite friends and family over his house for wiffleball games and cookouts.
Humble as can be, Ruocco feels he does enough to separate from the rest of the rock artists around today, yet still have that familiar “rock” flavor.
“I consider myself a rock artist in the term that ‘rock’ was a way of describing Tom Petty, Aerosmith or Bryan Adams. Today, it describes Lifehouse or Daughtry,” said Ruocco. “I feel I fit into that same category. It’s pop-friendly and I want people to take away from the album great songs, a great live band and hopefully they relate to the music in a way that helps them and makes them feel good.”
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