Local Noise: Christina LaRocca

Christina LaRocca calls herself a confused New Yorker, owing to the fact that she was born in Brooklyn, raised in Staten Island and now calls Astoria home. Confused though she may be, she has a definite handle on her musical career, with a new album called I Stand Tall With My Eyes Wide Open, just out through LRock Entertainment.

Christina has been performing around the area since 2006, both on her own and with the band Heavy Weather. She’s hit prestigious venues such as the Rockwood Music Hall, the Knitting Factory and the Bitter End, as well as numerous others, both large and small. Her musical style encapsulates a variety of styles, but she gives it all her own unique flair. “It’s Rihanna meets KT Tunstall with a heavier R&B sound, and a New York attitude,” is how she describes it. “It has an old school, radio friendly pop sound, with an intellectual folk twist all while being soaked in soul, trying to think outside the grid.”

Influences such as Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple inspire Christina, who has an affinity for what she calls “real women that sing from the gut.” But she also loves bands such as Incubus, the Foo Fighters and The Black Keys.

For the title of the new CD, Christina’s inspiration came from one of the songs. “It’s the first line of track 10 on my new album, ‘Early Is The End,’” she says. “In life you are going to deal with people that don’t agree with everything you’ve done or are going to do. Well, if someone is giving you grief about who you are, or what you are doing, don’t let them knock you down. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone or yourself, you should always remember to stand tall, keep your head up, and your eyes off the floor.”

The album was produced in a basement studio, The House of Dreams, in association with Josh Glazer at J Glaze Productions. Christina played guitar and handled all the vocals, while Josh, affectionately known as “Glaze,” handled trumpet and beats. There were some other guests who contributed as well. “Playing this album live is a completely different story,” Christina states. “At the moment, my guitar player and most trusted capo regime is singer/songwriter Satchel Jones. On keys, Aussie keyboardist Jackson Twain. Rockin’ the bass is the lovely Caitlin Gray. On drums and security, Sean Pokress. Singing backup is rapper/singer, and my consigliore, Kat Pac. What, you’ve never seen the Godfather? What’s the matter with you!”

Along with Satchel, Christina works at the club Wicked Willy’s on Bleecker Street, both booking live music and performing there herself. It allows her to often join in with other artists, including Satchel’s band, who have an eclectic sound, melding Bob Dylan and Flava Flav. She also has a history with the other musicians in her band. “Jackson was also in Heavy Weather, and has been playing with me for years,” she explains. “Even though he likes to waste the band funds on whiskey, I forgive him because he’s so badass on the keys. I have had a rotating crew of drummers, including Elliot Jacobson who plays for Ingrid Michaelson, and bass players and singers that join in on shows. Basically, after working at Wicked Willy’s since 2006, it has become the breeding ground for how I’ve met the members of my band. Sean, my drummer, used to be a bouncer there, and Caitlin is a regular bass player for many of the bands that come through, including Satchel’s. It’s kind of incestuous, but awesome. When we get on stage and everyone knows each other’s songs. Then even better when we have poker parties and were all just singing and passing guitars around, drinking and having fun. I think it’s important to be friends with the people you play music with.”

Initial reaction to the new album has been extremely positive. With a varied sound, it has songs that speak to different people in different ways, which is something that Christina is happy about, rather than have one song that stands above the rest. Two that have turned out to be particular favorites are “Freddie” and “Silver Bullets.”

Christina plans on going to the SXSW conference later this year, and doing some touring in the South. She also hopes to record acoustic versions of some of the tracks. But whatever the future holds, she knows she will be keeping busy. “As well as being a musician, I own a booking agency called L Rock Entertainment,” she says. “This year we hosted CMJ events, and I currently book several venues. It isn’t easy doing both, but though I’m tired, I love it all. I want to eventually not only write music for myself, but take it to the next level and write for artists that have hits on the radio. I am also honing in on my guitar skills, I want to be able to shred like Slash!”

For further information about Christina and the new CD, check out christinalaroccamusic.com, facebook.com/christinalaroccamusic, and lrockthepartybooking.com.