Rocky Votolato coming to a Vegas living room near you

(Photo by Robert Laananen)
(Photo by Robert Laananen)

Coming soon to a living room near you! Singer/songwriter Rocky Votolato is on tour, but he’s not playing in rock clubs or hipster cafés. Votolato is playing in people’s homes. The Seattle-based artist and former member of the rock band Waxwing has five full-length solo albums in his arsenal, and fans will get a taste of his forthcoming sixth release tomorrow night at a Las Vegas residence, and tickets are still available for the show. Haven’t heard of Votolato? If you’re into the likes of Pedro the Lion, Simon & Garfunkel, Bonnie Prince Billy or Damien Rice you may want to check him out for his brand of timeless songwriting.

Dave Bazan from Pedro the Lion gave you the idea for the living room tour, correct? How is that going so far and have there been any unusual moments?

I’m happy with the idea. I’m really glad Dave Bazan came up with it. … It’s been great. The first trip was super simple, too, and all the shows did really well. So I wanted to do it again before my record comes out next year [February 23 on Barsuk Records]. It’s just been a really great way for me to play in a super-intimate environment for people and get used to playing my new songs. A lot of the album is acoustic, so I wanted to be able to give people a chance to see these songs in a really quiet setting without all the background chatter at a bar.

Do the people hosting the gigs get to make special requests since it is their house?

Yeah, totally. Anybody can. I’ve been taking requests every night. It could potentially go all the way back to ’99 if somebody requested a song—and if I remember how to play that song. I try to remember all of them, but this will be my sixth album so there’s a lot of stuff to choose from.

What the vibe? Are people doing a BYOB thing? Do some of the hosts bake cookies?

It’s super relaxed really. If people want to have beer, that’s totally cool. Some houses, it’s a little bit more rowdy than others. Overall, it’s been really laid back. Most people are seeing it more as a private performance than really as a house party per se. It is just me and a guitar. I’m not bringing a PA or anything. I just show up and play the songs right there, so it’s super organic.

Can people still get tickets online and how do they know where to go for the gig?

You can buy tickets right up until the day of the show. … Once anyone buys a ticket, [attendees will] get the information in an e-mail.

When was the last time you were in Vegas?

I’ve played there several times. … Funny story, when Lucero and I were there we were walking back from some bar at, like, four in the morning and got jumped by some guys. Brian from Lucero actually got punched in the face. I think we were in a questionable part of town; what do you expect? … That can happen in any town, though. I’m not holding that against Vegas.

Do you ever go back to write heavier music like when you were with Waxwing?

I do that every once in a while. I’ve got a little batch of those kicking around. We’ve been talking about possibly doing some kind of Waxwing reunion or something like that to work on some of those songs. Or maybe a new project. But there’s still a side of me that wants to do the rock band thing. I think it comes out a little bit more in this new album that I just did, even though it’s still very acoustic based. … It’s definitely looking back to maybe some of my more punk rock roots.

Is the woman in the video for “White Daisy Passing,” your wife? How often do you get to see your family while you’re touring?

It is my wife. It’ll be our 10-year anniversary this year. We have two kids, so that gives me, I think, a little bit of a different perspective than a lot of musicians that are traveling around. … I kind of put touring on the backburner to focus on my family and be home and taking care of them and my wife worked a side job for a little while when I was making the record. … We try to travel around together when we can.

In this economy, are you able to solely be a singer/songwriter or do you have some sort of side job?

I don’t. I’m hoping to keep doing this, and when I get a new record out I’m probably going to do a lot more touring. That’s how I’ve made a living for the last five years, really mostly off of touring. … I think for indie artists that’s how it is. Obviously, times are tough everywhere, and its been especially hard for the music business, which has already been in trouble. But for me, I feel like things are going great. I just hope that trend continues. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to continue to do what I love for a living. I really don’t take that for granted, and I so appreciate all the people who support what I do.

(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at LasVegasWeekly.com.)

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