Somewhere in the heart of Hoboken, NJ, Kate Rockland is whiling away her time with coffee cups and chick-lit tales of punk love. Rockland's first release, Falling Is Like This, chronicles a whirlwind week of love between recently unemployed journalist Harper Rostov and the punk boy she's dreamed about for years, Nick Cavallaro. Kate was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing, her experiences with the Bouncing Souls, and a brief glimpse into her iPod guilty pleasures.
How did you first get involved in writing?
I worked at Rolling Stone magazine for two years while I was still in college. I worked for free, as an intern. I used to take the train into the city and be given tapes to transcribe with Mick Jagger and Joan Jett's voices talking over the earphones, it was so exciting! Then I got hired there, and started writing on the side for the New York Times. My favorite kind of music was New Jersey punk bands like Lifetime, Thursday, and the Bouncing Souls, so that's who I pitched to the Times and that's who I got to interview, which was amazing.
How did the idea for this book come about? How much resemblance does it have to your own life?
I started writing Falling Is Like This when I was living in the East Village, on 9th street and 1st avenue. Rolling Stone magazine had just had major layoffs and I had 6 months to drink coffee and hang out and observe. I also was doing a lot of writing for the NJ section of the NY Times (not in existence anymore) and my specialty was NJ punk bands, so of course I was half in love with some of the boys in the bands:) Their lifestyles fascinated me, touring around the country, not having to go to work every day in an office. I loved the world of punk rock in NJ, its epicenter in New Brunswick and Asbury Park, the charming yet cheeky boys in punk bands. Interviewing many bands (Fountains of Wayne, the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime,Sticks and Stones) was so much fun, and I got a feel for the lifestyle of artists and really liked it.
What experience do you have touring/working with bands?
I went to Hawaii with the Bouncing Souls for an Alternative Press feature story. It was awesome! Although I mainly hung out with the wives, because I'm all about girl-power. But it was weird, learning about how a band functions and operates while on a tour. They have a band manager named Kate who goes to the ATM as soon as they arrive in a new country or city, and then she takes out a set amount of spending money for each member of the band, almost like an allowance from a parent. Punk bands love to hang out with their fans more then any other type of music I think, so the Souls spent their days in Hawaii not locked in their hotel rooms, but checking out local bars, going on a motorcycle tour of the mountains with a local bike gang, and surfing. Its a very beautiful sight when a punk band arrives at the airport; imagine four guys dressed in black, followed by the merch guy (also dressed in black) followed by a ton of suitcases (also all black.) Its quite a procession when bands tour, I'd never been exposed to it before and it took my breath away, all the work that goes into it. Their instruments travel too, and they get very anxious waiting for their guitars to make their way safely through bagcheck. I believe the drummer usually rents a drum set from someone he knows in each city, or through an outside company.
How influential was your local music scene in the writing of this book? Did you develop the characters from your own head or were they based on people you know?
I love going to Maxwells here in Jersey, because they feature up and coming punk bands but also life-long favorites like Sonic Youth on a regular basis. Most of the characters in Falling Is Like This are made up, but the character of Nick is based on a special punk guy I once dated who loved his band way more then me and I was bitter about it. I just realized that with boys in bands, the band is always going to come first and that's a hard realization. I have way more respect for the wives and girlfriends of guys in punk bands, because they're able to not get jealous of adoring female fans who get the band names tattooed around their lady parts!
We know you’re a rock chick, but let’s say we flip through your iPod for a change of pace. What guilty pleasure artists will we find hidden amongst the rest?
OOO, guilty pleasures. I really like band Toto, from the eighties. And Pat Benatar kind of kicks major ass, she's on my iPod. I have some U2, some Aerosmith, some Hawaiian songs off the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack. Also, I have all my hippie chicks like Brandi Carlile and Ani DiFranco.
If you were to walk into a coffee shop after a breakup with your boyfriend, what unsuspecting rock star crush would you hope to run into?
Can we also make it 1995? I would pick Billy Joe Armstrong, when he had blonde hair and those racoon eyes.
If you were offered a three-week’s paid trip to Japan, would you take it?
A 3 week trip paid to Japan? Fuck yes. But not if that meant I had to travel with a bunch of stinky punk guys!
Do you have any other books in the works?
I just turned in my second novel! Its called 150 Pounds. It's about two girls who run blogs about weight. One is called "Fat and Fabulous," the other "Skinny Chick." They start off as enemies, but by the end of the book they both weigh 150 pounds. Its about the ways girls cut each other down or constantly ask their friends if they look "fat." I think girls need to kick more ass and stop caring what their weight is.
If you'd like to pick up your own copy of Falling Is Like This, head to www.katerockland.com for more information.