Rooney’s Robert Schwartzman enjoying solo route

BMS talks with the singer-songwriter about his debut solo release

, Managing Editor

With Rooney taking a break, frontman Robert Schwartzman is keeping busy by touring in support of his brand new debut solo release, Double Capricorn. Schwartzman is using the album as a way to promote the Tibetan Healing Fund as he will dedicate all album sales, licensing and touring revenue to the non-profit humanitarian organization established to improve primary healthcare and education for rural women and children in the Tibetan regions of China.

On Tuesday, Schwartzman will make his way to Massachusetts for an intimate performance at TT the Bear’s Place in Cambridge. With that in mind, we caught up with the California-based rocker to discuss his new solo release, its beneficiary, the tour and more.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): You come from a very famous and talented family. Does the success of your relatives drive you to succeed as well?

Robert Schwartzman (RS): My family inspires me to be the best I can be at what I’ve chosen to do. I have very creative people around me, both in my family and outside my family, and I feel lucky to belong to this kind of community. I want to make great music and excite my family, my friends, and my fans, so it’s a motivating force for me.

BMS: How was it recording independently as a solo act? Did you enjoy more artistic freedom?

RS: I really enjoy recording alone. I have my own style and process and I don’t want friction or premature input. I just want to go go go and let things happen. I record and write at the same time, so I need to be free in the studio. I also like the pressure of having to come up with something from nothing, or making something on my own… see it through.

BMS: How does the writing process differ for you between your solo work and working with Rooney?

RS: I’ve always demoed music on my own, for Rooney. I like to flush out the song, come up with the parts, because the parts are the song in many ways… depending on the part. I need to hear it back, it excites me. I like to get into the song as I write and only hearing it on an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, isn’t enough. I love listening to the song in an early stage, take it in the car, drive around, sing over the instrumental, etc. It’s all part of the process. And I do it when I write alone, for Rooney, for me. When I co-write for another artist, the process changes, it becomes a collaboration, which I also enjoy… in a different way.

BMS: Tell us about Double Capricorn

RS: It’s my first solo album. I haven’t “gone solo” or anything, but I like having this side project. I’ve always made music alone and I wanted to release music that represents this side of me as an artist. I worked on the album on and off for many years and eventually came to a place where I had all the songs I wanted. It’s got many sides, but overall, it’s upbeat and very rhythmic, melodic, personal, fun.

BMS: Are there any particular tracks you are proud of?

RS: I really like them all… sorry to give you that answer, but it’s true. I also hear that from fans. Everyone likes a different song, but there are a few that are on everyone’s list, like “Second Chances”. I really like this song and it’s one of the first tracks I play for people when I play them Double Capricorn.

BMS: Double Capricorn’s release is very unique in that all its revenue will benefit the Tibetan Healing Fund. How did you get involved with the organization?

RS: The Tibetan Healing Fund was created by my very close friend, you could even say brother. He’s a Tibetan Monk who lived with my family for over 3 years. He lived with us while he attended UCLA for his doctorate degree. He’s a very inspiring person, incredible and interesting. I went to visit him in Tibet for the first time last May and it opened my mind and heart. I questioned my life and where I was going… the reasons why I do what I do, the path I have chosen for myself. My friend, Kunchok, is really helping people, making a difference for woman and children in Tibet with the Tibetan Healing Fund. After seeing what I saw, I knew I could be helpful in raising money for the charity. But I wanted to raise money with music, with the thing I do with my life. To use music for a greater good and give music more value for people and for me.

BMS: You’re now on the road now supporting the new album. How is the tour going so far?

RS: The tour is great so far. I’m touring with some wonderful people, in my band and the other bands. Everyone is kind and loving and supportive. We’re all looking after each other. The touring business is getting really competitive, with fewer concert goers, so artists have to be respectful and sensitive to one another. So far so good, love playing these songs live and I can’t wait to get back out there in the new year.

BMS: How does touring solo differ from touring with Rooney for you?

RS: It’s strange to look around the stage and see different people.  I’ve been in my band for 12 years and touring for 9 of them. I’m used to my bandmates and we all have a certain chemistry that you just can’t get in a few weeks of jamming together. The musicians playing with me on this tour are extremely talented and they’ve made me a better player. I’ve had to approach my playing for a new perspective and fill different roles. When you play with the same guys, you develop certain habits, and develop certain muscles, and other muscles atrophy, so I need to restrengthen those muscles.

BMS: Do you see yourself splitting time between your solo career and Rooney in the future or is the solo work more of a side project?

RS: Yes, I want to keep Rooney going and make more solo albums. I’m inspired by different projects, so I need that in my life… it’s better for Rooney.

BMS: Any upcoming acting gigs or is the focus just on music right now?

RS: Not sure, I’m not opposed to it, but I don’t have any offers right now. I love acting, but I haven’t pursued it like I have music. I throw myself into my music and I haven’t done that with my acting. I think to be successful at anything, you do need to go full on and commit yourself. Maybe that time will come with acting down the road.

BMS: What can fans expect from your upcoming show in Boston?

RS: Good times, exciting music, good vibes. Definitely getting your money’s worth if you come to our show in Boston! I can say that all the bands want to please the audience, so when you think like that, you won’t let people go home without having a great time!

BMS: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

RS: Thank you for reading and supporting my music. I can’t do it without you, so I can’t thank you enough. Look out for new releases from my label, California Dreamin’ Records. And check out Double Capricorn!

Robert Schwartzman will perform at TT the Bear’s Place in Cambridge on Tuesday, November 8. Tickets for the show, which will also feature Voxhaul Broadcast and Ocean Grove, are available through TicketWeb for $12.

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