Rockford Rocked sits down with local band Desolation Row

By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT

Rockford Rocked Interview: Tell us a little bit about Desolation Row and who the members are.

Desolation Row: Jarrett Finley (22) and JJ Whaley (21) share the lead vocals and guitar duties. Jared Hoey (21) drums Eddy Whaley (16), bass.

RRI: By listening to some of your songs, it sounds like maybe at least a couple of you are influenced by punk rock. Would this be a fair assessment?

JJ: We have a lot of people ask that, but our influences are so varied that we don’t have any two originals that are exactly alike in sound or structure. We are not trying to define a specific sound and love experimenting. Can’t Get Enough has a punk/Ramones influence, while Everything I Need is more of a rock ballad. We like to keep our fans guessing.

RRI: Who are some of your other influences?

Jarrett: Oh man, we are all over the board with influences, but to name a few, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, AC/DC, Metallica, Bon Jovi, and a bunch I can’t think of under pressure (laughs).

RRI: You guys keep yourselves super busy playing just about every weekend and sometimes twice a week. Where was the biggest crowd Desolation Row has played to thus far?

DR: I think the biggest crowd would have to be a show we did with Royal Bliss and Wayland at The District. I heard there were over 400 people there, and we pretended they were all there to see Desolation Row.

Jared: We pride ourselves on being the busiest local band in the region.

RRI: Last year Desolation Row won the 2015 RAMI Artist of The Year award. Did you guys get to perform?

Jarrett: We weren’t asked to perform, in fact we didn’t make it to the ceremony because our PA was down and we were all scrambling that night to trouble shoot the problems. No PA means no shows. We didn’t know we won until the next day when a friend messaged us with congratulations. The RAMI people were really cool about it and understood our situation. They are a great organization that is vital to the music scene in northern Illinois.

RRI: In a couple of your photos I’ve noticed female fans joining you onstage and taking over the microphone. Does this ever cause a problem and if so does security ever have to get involved?

JJ: It’s a huge compliment when people want to get onstage and sing with us. It does get a little crazy at times and occasionally the venue security gets involved, but it’s their rules, not ours. Eddy loves having girls on stage.

RRI: I see you guys have played the famous Waterfall bar in Belvidere. Were you aware that famous bands like Fleetwood Mac, Blue Cheer and Ted Nugent played there in the early ’70s when it was called The Rumpus Room?

Eddy: We heard that the first time we gigged there. It was crazy to play the same venue as those awesome artists. I heard REO Speedwagon played there too.

RRI: I’m going to say a word or phrase and you respond with the first thing that pops into your bean. Ready? Tracii Guns (Former G-n-R guitarist).

Jared: Guns n Roses, LA Guns, are you kidding me. It was insane as a 17 year old to play a show with him and his band.

RRI: Mitch Arnold of Waylan.

Jared: Rising star in the rock world, and a mentor to us. when we have a question we can count on Mitch to give us hard, in your face advice.

RRI: Epiphone guitars.

JJ: Great sound and quality for poor musicians like us.

RRI: Father and Son Pizzeria (Davis Junction).

Eddy: Great venue that draws a fun group of people to play for.

RRI: Favorite local band to see perform.

JJ: Totally unfair question. There are so many ultra-talented bands of so many genres we can’t just pick one. We have many friends in many bands in the area and we couldn’t leave anybody out. They all know who they are.

RRI: What does 2016 have in store for Desolation Row?

Jared: Shows, shows, and more shows. We are concentrating on new venues and new festivals like Byron Fest, as well as some road trips to increase our fan base. We are already 40 percent booked for 2016 so it’s going to be another insane year for the D Row Boys.

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