Behind the Band: Rocky Rodrigues

Behind the Band: Rocky Rodrigues

We’re so excited to bring you our first exclusive interview for Behind the Band!

When looking at who to contact and where to begin with this segment, we tried to think of the people who most genuinely embody what we’re looking to do with this entire thing. One of the first people that came to mind was Rocky Rodrigues, as watching her interact with people and do her job anytime we’ve been to an As It Is show is part of what generated the idea of Behind the Band to begin with.

From behind the merch table selling t-shirts to the front of the stage acting as security, Rocky has definitely made a name for herself within the scene. Never failing to be someone who goes above and beyond to make sure every show she’s part of goes off as safely and smoothly as possible. She takes her love and passion for the job and brings it to her online presence, continuing to perpetuate the welcoming environment the bands she works with strive so hard to create.

We were so thrilled, upon contacting her, that Rocky agreed to take part as our first very important piece of Behind the Band.

Scroll down to read our in-depth, exclusive interview where Rocky so perfectly displays why this project is so important to us here at THP!


First, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We’re really excited about it. We want to take some time to focus on YOU, so let’s start with an introduction. Can you tell us about you and your start within the industry?

Thank you again for reaching out! So I was 20 when I started touring and I was a junior at UC Santa Cruz. I had avidly [gone] to shows and loved planning road trips around them with my friends to go to shows we normally wouldn’t. I was always entranced with the music industry and was determined to join it; naturally, I talked to the people on the tours I went to and just learned from them as much as I could. I formed natural friendships with a few people who toured and that ended up being my first “in”.

I had [gone] out to Dallas to go to a holiday show that had a lot of my favorite bands at the time playing and ended up agreeing to work for one of the newer bands that I had ended up befriending. Their manager saw the numbers I pulled that night and it eventually led to them asking me on my first tour with them that following February. I said yes before I even figured out what classes I was taking that next quarter and sweet-talked all my professors into letting me do my work remotely. I’d even fly back to campus to take an exam and then fly back out to tour right after I turned it in. I just knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity and I love a good challenge maybe a bit too much. It’s been the craziest but most wildly rewarding thing I ever did for myself. 

Your determination is amazing! So what is your current job title and what does that fully entail?

My current job title is a Touring Merchandise Manager. I am in charge of the sales of a touring band, keeping our inventory organized, and arranging shipments during the tour in a way that is both cost and time efficient for each band and their budget. You’ve gotta be on top of tracking which designs do well and which ones don’t, when you’ll be approaching your bigger markets and adjust your orders so that you’re well-stocked, and engaging with the band’s demographic to keep sales up. It always seems like a simple job: sell the shirts. But it requires a lot of diligent energy to ensure everything is organized and runs smoothly. I enjoy the chaos of it maybe a bit too much! 

Rocky Rodrigues
“Merch is a language, you see band tees EVERYWHERE […] Merch makes the world go round.”

Image Credit: Ian Coulson

It truly does sound like chaos and like far more goes into it than most of us realize! Are you currently working with mainly one band or do you tend to spread your time out between multiple? What’s the biggest difference between the two experiences and how do you think it impacts your work?

As of the last 2 years, I’ve worked pretty regularly with As It Is and Unwritten Law. I fill up my schedule with other tours in between their touring gaps. But those two bands are my mains and they’re definitely a priority for me when I take work. I think ideally it’s the goal for most merch managers to work with one band because you have consistent work and you’re already bonded with a group of people, making touring that much more comfortable and fun. But I do enjoy getting to take on new jobs and working with a different group of people and the challenges and skills you can gain from that as well. It really depends on the person doing the job I suppose.

For me, I’ll work just as hard for a band that I don’t know the same way I would for a band I know very well. But it is such a treat to bond with one band and return to that family each tour. My bond with As It Is has brought me to their world in the UK and Europe and it’s been such an honor to be part of a team that brings me on tours internationally. It makes working hard for them a no brainer.

Along with your official job title and description, what else have you branched out and helped bands with?

I absolutely help out with any day to day TM stuff when I’m with As It Is. This last summer I even stepped up and learned how to stage tech and double dutied as merch manager and stage tech. We did a lot of festivals and it was incredibly fun. Our FOH [front of house], Matt is pretty much a tech genius and made learning how to do everything so easy. As long as I’m comfortable with my job on a tour and I have time, I’ll branch out and ask anybody if they need any help. I’m a team player and constantly want to help the entire team’s day run easier so we can all maintain a good mental health status throughout the tour as well.

I always joke that I’m also a bands’ therapist because I majored in psychology and it’s just in my nature to do mental health checks on everyone and make time for venting sessions when needed. It’s such an important aspect that can easily be ranked last on a to-do list for a show day, but keeping mental health a priority on the road makes a world of a difference. 

It’s so interesting to consider how much you do on a daily basis that isn’t officially part of what you’re paid to do. What is the craziest thing you’ve had to take on that is not within your job description?

The craziest thing I’ve taken on that’s definitely not in my job description is acting as security for sure! Whether it be for someone to enter or exit a venue safely or helping to catch crowd surfers, it’s in my nature to look after the team around me and I’ve stepped up to do those things when it’s necessary. On the last tour I was on, our last night in London was in a venue with no barricade and the stage came up to maybe mid-calf level for the entire front row. When the crowd pushed, the first 3-4 rows of kids would have no choice but to fold over and be completely smashed onto the stage, into the equipment-all with the weight of countless bodies on top of them and no way to get themselves back up.

My entire crew, which was our stage manager Chris and photographer Ian, stopped doing our jobs to help push the kids back up, catch the crowd surfers, rearrange the mics and monitors that were getting thrown about, and making sure the kids were all hydrated. I’m thankful I’m in the shape I am and workout quite a lot because I would not have felt confident enough to help lift bodies for an hour and a half if I wasn’t! Haha. I checked my Fitbit the next morning and during that set, I burned around 1500 calories just running up the stairs and catching kids. It was MAD. 

Rocky Rodrigues
“I see myself 6-7 years ago in all these kids and I do my best to make an experience at merch that I would’ve wanted[…]”

Image Credit: Kelly Fox

One of the things we know you for here at THP is how much extra you put into your job. You’re definitely a core part of the experience at these shows and tours you’re working and we love that so much. So, if you were to give advice to someone looking to pursue this as a full-time career, what would you tell them?

To never let yourself have an option B. Don’t let failure or setbacks be anything but learning opportunities and never take no for an answer. There are so many ways to get involved in this scene, there’s no reason you can’t do it. Get involved in your local scene, get a good grip and scope on what exactly it is you wanna do, try new things out, volunteer for festivals, just never stop being creative and passionate and it’ll work out. 

That’s great advice! If your job did not exist, what impact do you think that would have on the industry and how would it function instead?

Ooof, as if bands didn’t make the money they deserve anyways, they sure as hell would be screwed without merch managers—merch in general. Anyone can do merch but seeing those passionate merch managers who really go above and beyond to ensure the band they’re working for makes what they deserve and does that consistently is the key. The music industry would be nothing without merch quite frankly, from local bands to arena artists. Merch is a language, you see band tees EVERYWHERE now which is amazing, even if you know those girls that bullied you in high school have never listened to Led Zeppelin or Slayer.

It’s something people jump to as a means to express themselves, from band stickers on their cars, laptops, water bottles, to their tees and hoodies. Beanies, pins, patches. Merch makes the world go round. 

That’s such a cool way to look at it, merch makes the world go round. We agree! And as a non-male within the industry, how do you think it’s impacted your job and experience?

Well, I try not to let the fact that I’m a female effect the job, but it does have its defining moments. You wouldn’t be a girl on tour if some asshole venue guy or security guard didn’t question your reason for being there, ask to see your credentials a million times, ask who you’re dating. It used to really piss me off, and it still does, but I’ve gotten really good at making these moments teachable opportunities. To make people question their narrative and choice of words.

Being a smartass to people who are too lame to make anything but sexist jokes towards me has become a highlight on tour. Anytime I’m lifting something heavy and someone goes “sweetheart why aren’t any of the boys helping you?” I respond with “why would they? This is my job, and I’m probably stronger than them anyways”.

The great parts about being a female, and in my case a young, female of color, is meeting people who see me for me. When I have young girls who ask me advice on tour or say they love seeing me on tours because they’ve never really seen a Latina in the scene, it makes my heart soar. It’s kind of overwhelming but it’s so empowering. I swear there’s a movement happening right in front of us and although we aren’t represented strongly right now, womxn are the backbones of this industry and are building such a strong future for it and for all those who want to be involved one day. 

Rocky Rodrigues
“I enjoy the chaos of it maybe a bit too much! “

Image Credit: Ian Coulson

It feels like we’re part of history, watching this movement happen before our eyes. Has there been a solid moment in your career where you fully realized how important your position is and what impact you have on the consumers and fans of a musician or band? 

I’d say my first tour to Europe/UK this summer with As It Is was a moment like that for sure. Here were these fans I had only ever heard stories about, greeting me by name every day and saying how excited they were to finally meet me. Total strangers, who just love this band so much they took the time to care about their crew as well. These kids already knew my favorite things, would bring me gifts and remembered I’m newly vegan and include extra goodies for me in stuff they brought to the guys. They also trusted me and came to me for help when stuff went awry at shows—security issues or safety concerns. It kind of rocked my world that just selling shirts for a band made this impact [on] people across the world.

To hear that these fans actually liked coming to merch now and wanted to buy stuff from me showed me how having a positive and passionate approach to merch could make all the difference. It’s so reciprocated: these kids inspired me to wanna give them cooler shit to take home from them, and they’d buy it, tell their friends, bring more friends to shows. We do better in sales because of this approach and I hate to even call it that because it sounds so dis-genuine. I see myself 6-7 years ago in all these kids and I do my best to make an experience at merch that I would’ve wanted or still want to see when I go to shows.

That’s incredible. You’re truly making a difference every night out there. Finally, as we’ve said, bands create ripples of all sizes and we’re truly fascinated by it. However, we all know they couldn’t do it alone and we’ve loved focusing on you and how you’ve impacted our experience as consumers and fans of music. Can you shoutout two or three people who are also part of the behind the scenes that you think deserve more recognition?

Oh man, well thank you again for those kind words. Truly. I’ve gotta shoutout all of the FOH’s (front of house/sound people), stage managers, techs, photographers and of course tour managers for holding it all together. It’s quite incredible to be part of a crew and step out of the van or bus together midday and meet back up during load-out at 1 am and just hug or compliment each other on what we accomplished. Crews are the backbone of every band and it’s taught me to love being a team player.

Special shoutout of course to the crew I’ve spent the most time with the last two years: my As It Is crew which is Matt Stroud (FOH/tech genius), Ian Coulson (photographer and content creator extraordinaire), and Chris Cole (backline tech BOSS). These three have taught me so much and made it a privilege to work alongside them. They constantly show me what hard work truly is and they deserve all the praise they get.


What an incredible way to kick-off Behind the Band, and what an insightful look into some behind-the-scenes aspects of the music world. Here at THP, we are so grateful for those who help make our experience as fans and consumers of music so amazing.


Do you know someone in the industry who deserves recognition and you think would like to chat with us? You can email us at press@thpmag.com with the subject “Behind the Band” or send us a tweet @TheHoneyPop!

Curious where this began? Click here to read the article that started it all!

Interested in finding out more about what happens Behind the Band? You can check out our entire segment here!


Rocky Rodrigues
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER


Featured Image Source: Andreea Farcas for TheHoneyPOP.com

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Kaiti Fleeger

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Faith Thompson
Faith Thompson
9 months ago

I love love love this article! Thank you

Back to top
1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
%d bloggers like this: