Rooney, a band of five young cover-shoot–ready Californians, have somehow managed the rare feat of avoiding the stigma attached to being labeled a pop band. A mixture of sun-soaked singalong hooks and melodic arrangements and harmonies have garnished the band critical acclaim and comparisons to such acts as the Cars, the Beach Boys, and a laundry list of early ’90s Brit-pop bands. PlaybackSTL caught up with Rooney’s bass player, Matthew Winter, a few days after their headlining a show with the Sounds and Paloalto at Mississippi Nights.

1. You guys played a number of new songs at the show in St. Louis. Have you had time to do some writing on the road?
You know, we’ve been writing on the road, and there’s a lot of new songs laying around that we just record whenever we get a chance to at home. We’re only at home for a week at a time every month or two, but we demo a lot of new ideas and also have a lot of songs leftover that were already written before we recorded the first album.

2. What’s been a road highlight for the band as you’ve been touring this last year?
Japan—man, it was fuckin’ amazing. I’m sure you know how it is there; they’re just crazy and they love music. And they’re much more eager there. I don’t know if it’s just that they don’t get as many American bands as they’d like, or they’re just less jaded on the whole and show a lot more enthusiasm. It also happened to be by far the largest crowd we’ve ever played to, so it was pretty amazing.

3. A couple of the guys popped up in The Princess Diaries and [singer] Robert had a small part in The Virgin Suicides. Will there more film appearances from band members? Maybe a Rooney and Snoop Dogg: Girls Gone Wild video?
[Laughs] No, that’s kind of over, actually. All that shit happened before we got to the place we’re at now with our musical goals.

4. How do you guys handle the amount of squealing fans at your shows and online that want to know everything about your relationships, eating habits, and hair products?
The truth is I think a lot of that type of fan has to do with age. I think young girls, who I guess we’re appealing to, are into that kind of shit. I mean, not all of them, and it is flattering. You’ve got to be excited that people care. At times you feel like throwing up and you want like a 30-year-old cool dude to be talking about you, which isn’t necessarily the case. It’s nice to have that kind of interest, though. If that was the only interest we were getting, it would be a little more offensive. We try to be conscious of not only appealing to those fans. That can take us from being a viable rock band to just kind of a lame pop act pretty quickly if we let that get carried away.

5. What are you listening to on the road?
We try hard not to be just some “retro band”. I think its pretty lame to only like old stuff, and you have to have your ears open to new ideas obviously. But we end up with the majority of what we listen to being classic stuff. Right now we’re listening to a lot of the Sleep, which has been kind of a constant. The Move has been on a lot; we’re always listening to the Zombies, the Beach Boys, the Beatles. As for new stuff, I don’t have the record, but I think we’ve all been really enjoying playing with the Sounds and I think they’re a fuckin’ good pop band. They’ve got a really raw energy to them, and they have a really authentic feel, I think.

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