It has only been a couple of years since Sprocket was just a trio playing dingy basement bars in front of a mix of music fans and drunk NYU students. They have since rounded out the band to a quartet and worked their way through the growing pains that any up and coming band goes through. Sprocket proves that with the right combination of musical chops and hard work, you can go places. Last year, Thomas Thompkins (guitar), Dan Haller (bass), Nate Rosler (drums), and Angelo Milliano (keyboards) released their first LP Tropical Bushwick, and this week Sprocket will play its first show at Brooklyn Bowl, the band’s largest venue to date after playing every venue along the way Wicked Willy’s, Arlene’s Grocery, The Bitter End, SPiN, and Fontana’s Bar just to name a few. Following this gig, Sprocket will be touring the festival circuit before heading north to the windy city for a very special GD50 after show on July Fourth. Sprocket answered some questions about the growing pains in getting to this critical point in their evolution:
Sprocket will be accompanied by Gowanus and The Mantras at Brooklyn Bowl April 21 8pm, you can purchase tickets here.
Graig Adler: Being a NYC-based band, getting to play Brooklyn Bowl is a major milestone, what is the worst venue you’ve played?
Sprocket: Not naming any names, but we had one show where the sound guy started unplugging our equipment with 15 minutes left in our set. He apologized profusely, but apparently, there was a burlesque DJ show that “had to start on time” for a bachelor party, the room cleared out and we never went back on.
GA: Last year you put out your first EP Tropical Bushwick, what did you learn from this process? What will you do differently next time? Do you have another album in the works?
Sprocket: We recorded Tropical Bushwick ourselves, in our studio, in two months, for zero dollars. It was an incredibly rewarding process, and we feel like we got a great product out of it. We’re all really proud of that accomplishment, and I think the album captures where we were as a band at that point in time. I think one big lesson that we learned is how much we could actually accomplish when we set a goal for ourselves and really worked our asses off to make it happen. Next time around, we all want to be able to take a little more time with the process, to really focus on capturing a greater depth of sound that is representative of where our music has evolved over the last year.
GA: Sprocket originally started as a three-piece band, then added a keys player after the fact. How has this changed the bands reach and overall playing style?
Sprocket: In addition to Angelo being a great player and songwriter, we have a richer harmonic palate available now with him in the band, there are more options available to us. With another harmonic instrument in the mix, it makes each of us able to lay back a little more, and use the interplay between the instruments. We also have a lot more nicknames between us.
GA: Is there one band member that writes most of the original music and compositions, or is it done as a group effort? Who writes the setlists for each show?
Sprocket: We all participate in writing music. Sometimes one of us brings a fully composed song to the group, and we work to add a little bit of flavor to each of our individual parts, and sometimes someone will come with their part and a melody, and we all work to build around that. Then there are songs that we have written together as a band, in the moment. Setlists are generally a group effort, and we try to put thought into each one that we create, taking into account where we’re playing and for whom, and what special or new things that we want to do at each show. Of course, once we get on stage, audibles are often called, but we try to build a set that will flow with the energy of the night. If the crowd’s energy takes us in a different direction, then you have to be ready to roll with the punches.
GA: Sprocket has a show coming up at the Hard Rock Chicago over July Fourth weekend. Will this be the biggest Sprocket show to date? This has to be a great honor; how excited is the band for this gig?
Sprocket: The July 4th show is definitely our biggest show to date. July Fourth, at the Hard Rock Café, in Chicago, after one of the most important shows in our scene’s history. We’re all giddy looking forward to it. Just thinking about what the scene is going to be like in Chicago that weekend is not only exciting, but it’s also inspiring to a young band that is trying to aspire to bigger things. July Fourth weekend is proof positive that the kind of music that we want to play can create an incredible movement of people and that’s seriously inspiring.
GA: What festivals will Sprocket be playing this summer? Is there one you are most excited about?
Sprocket: We’re really excited to tap into the festival scene this year, and we’re going to have a good slate ahead of us with sets at Rock and Roll Resort, Moondance Meltdown, Pink Moon Festival and a few others. As for which one we’re most excited about, we’re always most excited about the next one up, so in this case that would be Rock and Roll Resort on May 1st.