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Interviews: Jared Scharff and The Royals

Jared Scharff and The Royals: Interview
March 2007
By: Lauren Jonik

In a world where trends change as quickly as popstars' hairdos, there's still a place for good ol'fashioned rock and roll crafted around the creation of strong songwriting. For Jared Scharff and The Royals, the aim is simply to rise above.

After stints in other bands including Velvet Frogg with current bassist Phil Galitzine and later as a guitarist in Carbondale, which got signed to and was later dropped from RCA after he graduated from college, Jared Scharff knew that his happiness depended on following his own dream. Armed with having had the experience of making a record for a major label while in Carbondale with producer John Fields photo of Jared Scharff copyright Lauren Jonik(Switchfoot, Andrew W.K.) and with the knowledge that playing music is not necessarily the same as being in the music industry, Scharff plotted a new course. "I left to pursue doing my own music, which is what I wanted to do always. I started writing and recording for this project. I started playing acoustic shows first at Pianos because I didn't have a band, but I had recorded my first EP all by myself," explained Scharff. "Eventually, I auditioned people and ended up with the line-up we have now. These are all guys that I was friends with previously," said Scharff of bandmates drummer Kevin Rice, bassist Phil Galitzine, and guitarist Paul Vassallo. When realizing that he had a solid, committed band, Scharff wanted to name them and given the family history of a one of the members, "The Royals" seemed aptly fitting. "Our bass player is from a line of Russian royalty. It doesn't exist any more, but he is a descendant of nobility."

Coming from a musically appreciative family, Scharff's early years were filled with the sounds of classic rock that his father listened to: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Eric Clapton and The Allman Brothers. But, as he grew older, his tastes continually changed and expanded spanning from the metal of Metallica to the alternative rock of Pearl Jam to the jams of Phish to the rock/pop of Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins. "The way it is now, it's just about a good song. I'll listen to anything that I think is a good song. The songs are the currency," said Scharff.

When writing his own material, Jared Scharff admits that he likes the process of inspiration striking. "I try to purposely not write and not do anything creative and then, I'll get this weird feeling and I'll pick up the guitar and just start playing something. I write everything in my room on an acoustic guitar." Scharff often shapes the storylines of his songs around what the melodies or random words are trying to tell him. "I'll see three big pieces and I'll have to figure out what it is a puzzle of. I need to figure out what those three things are telling me this is about." When writing Symphonies,a song on his second EP that, along with Stereo, recently was a finalist in the "We Are Listening" songwriting contest, the puzzle took a year to become clear. He had the initial progression and melody line, but it wasn't until he changed the tempo and key upon revisiting it, that things came together. "I came up with the chorus 'we march in different symphonies' and, realizing what the song was about, was able to go back and write the lyrics to the verse."

Like many musicians, Jared Scharff admits feeling the pressure of the importance of every NYC performance and acknowledges that, "If you live here, you're not just doing music, you are in the music business." But, despite the struggles inherent with merging the creative life and commerce, Scharff's gaze remains focused on why he does what he does. "Nothing tops the feeling when you finish writing a song that you think is really good."

Interview originally appeared in IndieSoundsNY (Issue #21 March 2007). Photo by Lauren Jonik. Reprinted with permission.