(Photo by Lee Siedenberg)

Featured Guest is the section of my website where I interview artists, musicians, actors and various cool people from all walks of life. Tonight we had a great conversation with widely popular guitarist/singer Rob Carlyle, the main man behind the NYC based critically acclaimed group The Compulsions. Rob has been cranking out pure rock and roll with several high profile EP’s and full lengths over the years all the way up to the latest album entitled “Ferocious.” We sat down and had a discussion about his history in music, song writing influences and latest news.  Very few people draw from the well of classic jams like Rob and it’s great to get a view from the inside of his rock and roll journey.

1. Hey Rob, how are you doing, man? It’s good to speak with you today.

ROB: I’m doing well, Gideon, thanks. Yeah, likewise, I’ve been looking forward to this.

2. Great man, me too. Thanks and cool to talk to you. Tell us about your background. Did you grow up in NYC?

ROB: Yes and no. I was born in Staten Island but when I was about 10 years old, my family moved up to Rockland County. My childhood was fairly normal although I’ve been obsessed with rock ‘n’ roll for as long as I can remember. When I was about fours year old, my first favorite band was The Monkees.

3. What inspired you to play guitar and sing in a band?

ROB: For the guitar, it was when I saw Keith Richards and Ron Wood in The Rolling Stones concert movie, Let’s Spend The Night Together. They made playing guitar look like the coolest thing in the world.

Yeah bro I totally saw that on TV so many times.

ROB: As far as being a singer, I couldn’t find the next Steven Tyler, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I tried to come up with a vocal style that mixed Keith Richards, Izzy Stradlin and a few other guys.

4. That's awesome. I'm a huge fan of all of those guys too. I saw Izzy Stradlin with his Juju Hounds band live and man I love that album. Keith Richards is living rock and roll. Were there any groups, albums or concerts in particular that inspired you over the years?

ROB: As a kid, I listened to a lot of AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. I also loved guitar heroes like Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. Later on, I got into the early punk bands like The Dead Boys, New York Dolls and The Stooges. I still love all that stuff.

Yeah man me too for sure.

ROB:A few influential and inspiring albums include Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Exile On Main Street, Get Your Wings, Highway 61 Revisited, Physical Graffiti, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Wall.

Inspiring concerts include (in semi-chronological order) Guns N’ Roses at the Felt Forum, Jane’s Addiction and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion from their early days to more recently, Monster Magnet and Raging Slab at The Cat Club, The Black Crowes during their Southern Harmony tour and later with Jimmy Page, R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford at The Cooler, the Kiss reunion at Madison Square Garden and James Brown at The Bartender’s Ball.

5. Great choices for sure, I always loved "Exile.." it's my favorite Stones album. Love all those same bands for sure. We played with Raging Slab around the time of my first album and it was great, always loved them. I once saw Junkyard with the opening band being a young Black Crowes way back in the day at 4808 Club in Charlotte, NC. I saw GNR open for Motley and again a few times later. How did you start The Compulsions? How did you guys come together?

ROB: I’d been trying to form a band for about 10 years. Most of that time was spent looking for a lead singer. But like I said, I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I became the singer. How did The Compulsions come together? Well even after three EPs, two albums and three singles (31 tracks total), I still don’t seem to have a solid line up, so I’m not sure it actually has come together. But I’m working on it.

6. Yeah man you've made some great records and have a big following. Now you have a third album in the works called "Ferocious". Can you tell us a little about it?

ROB:I’m thrilled with how it’s coming out. Like past Compulsions albums, there’s a lot of straight-up rock ‘n’ roll on there but there’s also some freakier, unexpected stuff, yet somehow it all hangs together.

It’s also got two covers, “Dead Flowers” by The Stones and “Dust N’ Bones” by GN’R. The goal was to make GN’R and The Stones sound like they were covering The Compulsions. I know that sounds kinda crazy but I’ll let the fans decide if we pulled it off.

(Photo by Delissa Santos)

7. Great man, can't wait to check it out and those are very cool cover choices. What have been some of the stand out performances you have played personally?

ROB: Honestly, I don’t love any of The Compulsions’ past live performances. We’d do a lot better if we rehearsed more than once or twice. But that being said, the audience and the press always seem blown away.

8. What is the music scene like in your area?

ROB:It seems like there are an infinite number of bands here in New York, so you have to be really good to stand out.

9. Yeah I understand. Everyone I know there says that too. Over the years you’ve worked with some amazing producers and band members. In what way did these musicians and producers affect your music and journey?

ROB: Well, let me start with the producers, Hugh Pool and Ken Rich. They’ve been with me since the beginning and they’re just as responsible for the sound of those Compulsions tracks as I am. I’ve learned a lot from those guys and they never cease to amaze me.

Both very cool producers man. For sure.

ROB: As far as the musicians, I’ve always worked with the best players I can find, guys who are more technically proficient than I am. So that’s been a big help and has certainly advanced the reputation of the band. But despite mountains of acclaim and success, none of those guys took the band seriously, which has been a problem.

10. Are you interested in other art forms like films, books, visual art?

ROB: Oh yeah, all that stuff. I’m a huge fan of movies, especially gangster movies and Westerns. But I also love everything from old movies like Island Of Lost Souls to something more recent like Ex Machina. As a kid, I was an avid reader and as an adult, my bookshelf is pretty well stocked with everything from Chuck Palahniuk to Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I’m also a big fan of visual art. I love everything from Picasso and Turner to Coop and Crumb.

(Photo by Delissa Santos)

11. Very cool bro. What life skill do you feel every person should have?

ROB: Everyone should know shit from Shinola.

12. What are some of your great gifts in life and how do you feel they define you?

ROB: As both an artist and a businessman, I’m not afraid to take risks. In fact, the bigger the risk, the better. Every risk I’ve taken has paid off.

13. Yeah man for real. What have been some of your hardest challenges and how did you overcome them?

ROB: This goes back to what I said before: Despite 15 years of over-the-top acclaim, the biggest problem has been finding the right guys to form a steady line up. I haven’t solved that yet but I have some ideas.

14. If you didn’t play music, what else would you do with your time and interests?

ROB: I probably would’ve pursued a career in acting. I would’ve aspired to be up there with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, the same way I aspire to be up there with my rock ‘n’ roll heroes. Other dream jobs would be radio DJ or music supervisor.

15. Yeah I can dig it. If you were to meet a younger artist, what advice would you give someone just starting out?

ROB: Study and absorb the careers and works of your heroes. Then study their heroes and so on. Keep going back in history until you get to root of it all, which will inevitably lead you to the blues and folk music. For example, if you love Marilyn Manson, he’ll lead you back to Alice Cooper who will lead you back to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins who will lead you back to the blues and folk artists. If your music has deep, strong roots it’ll probably be around for a long time.

The other thing I’d say is, don’t worry about scene politics. There’s going to be a lot of that. Just write the best songs you possibly can. He (or she!) who dies with the best songs wins.

16. Yes for sure, all too true man. Yeah for sure I would say the same, don't worry about scene politics. Yeah man, songwriting is the strongest key always. What artists do you relate to the most in today’s music world and why?

ROB: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of the few modern bands I relate to because I like how they take influence from bands like The Stones, T. Rex and The Velvet Underground. I also really like Gary Clark Jr. He’s a great guitar player and he’s rooted in the blues and R&B, but he also adds modern elements to his music. And I’ve heard a couple tracks from the upcoming release by Rex Brown (ex-Pantera) and they sound awesome. Thick, groovy, modern rock ‘n’ roll.

17. Any last words or news for your fans?

ROB: Yeah, thank you for your support! We’ve been selling a lot of Compulsions music and merchandise online and without everyone’s support, I couldn’t keep this going. So thanks again!

Thanks to you Rob for making time for the interview. Rock on bro and keep us updated on your news. - G


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C.Crows Gideon's side project doom metal, sludge, gothic blues band. You can check out a few songs from the early demo on the reverbnation page. Doom On.