Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, The Rockwells is made up of two sets of of brothers: Fred and Jonathan Kelly, and Tommy and Trace Bateman. They met in high school and started The Rockwells as a long-distance recording project by Jonathan and Fred in 1999, while Fred was working in Memphis and Jonathan had moved to Knoxville for school. Tommy and Trace joined the band in 2000 when Fred moved to Knoxville. After recording four full-length albums and one EP by ourselves (on very primitive equipment), the band recorded an EP at Studio 613 with Don Coffee Jr. of Superdrag. This EP was called Tear It Down, since the studio was leveled to make way for I-40 shortly after we finished recording.
Place & Time was recorded entirely by The Rockwells in both Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee. More than half a dozen locations were used, including various houses, a cabin, and local rock club The Pilot Light. The record was mixed by Howard Redekopp, who has mixed such Merge artists as The New Pornographers and AC Newmann (also of the New Pornographers.) He was in Canada at the time, and the band couldn’t afford to go up there, so the mixing process was done almost exclusively via email. Guests on the album include Jeremy Bain (May Gray, Slick) on lead guitar and Christina Horn (Hudson K) on piano on “Knot of Tension,” as well as guest vocalist Emily Robinson (Tenderhooks) on “Hole in the Wall.” Seth Hopper (Christabel and the Johns, Tommy Bateman and the Thunder Thieves) played all the violin on the record, as well as trumpet on “Hole in the Wall.” All other instruments, including trombone and French horn, were played by The Rockwells. It did, indeed, take over two years to finish the record. From the bands perspective, at least, that could be described as “forever.” Their lastest record Place & Time is being released December 2, 2008 on Migrant Records.
Previous Press for The Rockwells:
Place & Time is deeply textured and rich in its thoughtfulness. It would have been easy to just transplant The Rockwells’ phenomenal live act onto CD, but the boys seem to take a chance. There are elements that are not exposed until repeat listens. Once you’ve broken down all the topmost pieces, the soil of sound underneath presents itself. Whether it be extra percussion, the appearance of cars passing on a late night journey, or even the faintest brushes of an organ, you’ll long experience the album in new ways. - Paperthin Magazine
[Tear It Down] is actually the sixth CD by this foursome, and from this six-song EP, produced by Don Coffey, Jr. of Superdrag, it my be worth tracking down some of the others. It seems like catchy, up-tempo, streamlined, not too loud or garagy power-pop is breaking out all over, and with the harmonies between the Kelly brothers and solid support from the Bateman brothers, these Rockwells fit the bill. They spill the joy of finally getting a girlfriend on “Lonesome No More” and up the “back in the saddle” feeling on “Breakout,” though the best here is the Velvets/Sebadoh/Dumptruck-like “Lou Says.” But they can also ace two quiet waltzes (cue the close dancing) on “Theme From Miss Signal” and “Another Country Song”. - Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover