I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of watching/listening to friends sing Karaoke for as long as I can remember, but after having the ‘pleasure’ of watching friends perform with a Rockaoke’s live band in tow at the Tram & Social, Tooting. I’m not sure I ever want to watch/listen to friends do normal karaoke again, as almost everyone has wanted to be in a band at some point and that’s exactly what Rockaoke lets you do for a brief few minutes, and it shows.
Watching from the sidelines you can see these performers, often fueled by confidence juice come alive when backed by a live band. Whooping, dancing, acting like they are famous and of course rocking out all over the stage like it’s a drunken X Factor audition, where no really cares if they get through to the next round. To put it another way Rockaoke is the extreme sports version of Karaoke and if you’re yet to experience it you should at least once.
So when I heard that Rockaoke are about to start a new night in February at the Phoenix on Cavendish square to add to their current London roster of Tram & Social in Tooting, London Cocktail Club, Shoreditch and The Star of Kings, Kings Cross. I thought it was only right that I got in touch with them to find out a bit more about what makes Rockaoke so popular and what makes them tick.
1) Hi Jon, Dan and Mat so why Rockaoke and how did it come about?
Jon – A gig with Crowded House’s Neil Finn’s in 2001 when he put together a band of his fans on the night. We played in front of 1000 people and the energy and feelgood factor at that show was off the scale! The guys on stage were living the dream and the audience loved it! I wanted to make a living doing that.
Jon – First proper Rockaoke gig was at Ibiza Rocks in 2006. It was a bit nerve-wracking as we’d blagged ourselves in. But we were rocking out on the beach in Ibiza! What was not to like! And it felt like we were planting the seed of something special!
3) Who are the band members and how do they know how to play all those songs?
Dan – We have a fantastic pool of musicians but the main members are Dan Richardson, Basil Hoult, Kirsty Crawford, Mat Slater, Jonny Short, Al Mansford,Will Calver, Chris Aspin, Ari Ranus, Bob Wynne and Emma Stakes.
4) How many of these are the original members?
Dan – Jonny Short and Basil Hoult with Dan, Mat and Kirsty getting involved with the Rockaoke action not longer after Jonny and Basil. The rest just developed organically.
5) You must get asked for the same songs a lot, what are the most popular 5 all time and in 2014
Mat – Some songs, love them or hate them, are just timeless classics. So songs like “Living on A Prayer”, “Sweet Child Of Mine”,”Valerie”, “Sex on Fire” and “Mr Brightside” are staple parts of the Rockaoke diet on any given evening!!
6) What’s the bands favourite song(s) and why?
Mat – “Bohemian Rhapsody” because of it’s epic climax and “Killing in the Name Of” because it’s a classic Rock tune for all musicians/singers……and it also has a little bit of swearing in it to add to the epicness 😉
7) Have you ever had anyone famous do Rockaoke with you?
Dan – people such as Chris Moyles, Chris Evans, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Alan Shearer etc..etc..to name but a few
8) Where’s the best place you’ve done Rockaoke?
Jon/Dan/Mat – location-wise, on the beach at Punta Cana(Dominican Republic). But in terms of venue, with Chris Moyles and guests at IndigO2. Our weekly Thursdays at Zoo Bar in 2007 were also really special and were the start of our London Rockaoke Nights – and where we met M.C Mat.
9) What about the strangest place?
Jon/Dan/Mat – definitely the crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral.
10) You only seem to do gigs on Thursdays and Fridays, what are you doing the rest of the week?
Dan/Mat – Thursday/Friday nights are the main Rockaoke Nights that the public can come along to, but we also do a large amount of weddings, private parties, corporate parties and of course we tour the festival circuit in the summer.
11) Is it just the same crowd every week or can anyone pick up the mic?
Dan – We have a good fan base that turn up to every show and want to sing, but anyone is welcome on the Rockaoke stage. We don’t discriminate or judge people, we just want everyone to have the best time of their lives, and enjoy the Rockaoke experience.
12) What if I come along and want to sing, any top tips to increase my chances of the ‘world’ hearing my ‘beautiful voice’?
Mat – get there before the rush and choose a worldy of a song 🙂
13) I don’t want to sing, why should I come?
Jon – Because by the end you will, and the band and M.C are very entertaining so lots for everyone to see.
If you’re tempted to give it a try check out their website for the latest listings. If your still not convinced you can always listen/practice to Rockaoke goers favourite tracks below and have a sing along in the shower.