The Poprocks are a pop punk-based tribute band out of the Washington D.C. area, but if there is anything I can do to get them to branch out further and play up north – and all over the East Coast — I’ll do it. A big part of their style and their reputation as a cover band is as a truly good-hearted group of guys who play shows that are high-energy, nostalgic, and some of the most fun you could ever have. From Sum 41 to Green Day to Jimmy Eat World and everything in between, these three friends put on a show that will take you back to the days of studded belts from Hot Topic, mosh pits, and some of the greatest music that the last two decades had to offer.
What are your names and what do you do, other than pay homage to some of everyone’s favorite alt. bands?
Adam Sorokes: My name’s Adam, I’m the lead singer and frontman, guitar man — guitarist? Whatever you want to call it. When I’m not moonlighting as a rockstar, I’m a teacher, and probably what I spend most of my free time outside of the band doing is taking care of my son here, who I have on my arm right now. Also, I love being in the outdoors and fishing, hunting, all that kind of stuff. I’m like the local redneck of the band.
Nikhil Sinha: I’m Nik, I play bass, and I’m also the frontman of the band. [Laughs] For my day job, I am a management consultant with the federal government. Super, super fancy and very exciting. Aside from playing in this band and gigging around D.C. and having a blast doing it, I’m an amateur runner. I’ve ran a couple races around the local area, half marathons and whatnot. I’m also a tuba player, so I look to teach tuba and play tuba whenever I can. You know, just regularly hanging out with these guys around DC.
Reed Walker: Hello! I’m Reed Walker, drummer extraordinaire, and I am also the frontman. Also known as the leader — capital L. I own Cotton and Reed’s Rum Distillery. D.C.’s first rum distillery. I’m a distiller. Cotton and Reed is also the primary sponsor for The Poprocks, so there is plenty of free alcohol as part of our contribution to the band. They are prominently stickered on our posters and our Facebook page and everything.
It’s always good to have three frontmen! You guys are primarily a tribute band to ‘90s and early ‘00s alternative and pop punk, as well as classic rock. Who are some of your favorite bands that fall in that category? How have they inspired you as original artists?
AS: I think that, probably for me, the biggest one in that genre has got to be Green Day. I started listening to them when I was, I don’t know, maybe 11 or 12. I’ve since seen them live several times and every time I see them, I’m like “Man, these guys put so much energy into their performances!” They’re still really, really tight and they do unique things with their songs and create mashups, and they’ll even be in the middle of a song and they’ll slow it down and do this incredible working of the crowd for four or five minutes and then go right back into the song. You never lose the momentum of the song in that moment, which I find really impressive.
Not for nothing, their songs are all based around like three chords, so when you’re a guitar player starting out and you’re learning the basics and you’re like, “Whoa! I can play, like, 15 Green Day songs!” thinking that you’re super cool. I’d say for me, Green Day is probably number one. Weezer, as well. I mean, especially their early albums, like the Weezer (Blue Album) in particular is, to this day, probably one of my top five favorite albums of all time. I mean, I can just put it in and listen to it over and over and it’ll still be awesome. It’s funny because I don’t really listen to that much pop punk music. I’m usually listening to thrash metal and stuff like that, but when I play guitar, the pop punk stuff is what I want to play, it’s just so much fun.
NS: Going off what Adam said, but really quickly, just to clarify: we’re primarily a pop punk cover band. That is kind of how we advertise ourselves and that’s true to who we are. We just play pop punk covers, not so much the classic rock or alt. genre, but I just wanted to clarify that if that makes a difference.
For me, as the bass player, I grew up learning how to play jazz and a lot of classical music. As soon as I started to discover rock music for myself, I gravitated toward bands like Blink 182, as well as Green Day, New Found Glory, Sum 41, but I would say that Blink was my most primary influence. Just seeing Mark Hoppus be that bass player…bass players often get lost in the background and they’re just there to put the foundation down, but they’re not necessarily there to be seen or more noticed or anything. Mark was king, the first person I saw that was the goofy, frontman type guy that plays a good bass guitar — he’s not like a Victor Wooten or anything — he was the first guy that I saw that people would go out of their way and actually see. All I’ve ever really wanted to do is be that kind of rockstar, that entertainer on stage, so he was really easy to look up to and idolize.
RW: So, my background is in marching band as the snare drummer and so I have always looked up to Travis Barker of Blink 182. In terms of my early years as a drummer, I was looking up to John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. I never thought I could be a good pop punk drummer, as there is just so much speed. I think my style is a little bit more of a style like John Bonham’s: more finesse, a little less speed.
Then I found Cyrus Bolooki, the drummer of New Found Glory, and his story is just pretty interesting. No classic training at all and his bandmates thought he was pretty good, but their advice to him was, “You know dude, you’re a pretty good drummer, just play louder.” So, I was like maybe I’ll just play really fucking loud and when I started playing pop punk music with Adam and Nik, I found that I could in fact play at the speeds that Travis Barker plays at. I do have the chops, I just needed to be a little bit louder.
So, more about the background of the band, how long have you been a band and how did you get started?
AS: We played our first show as a band in April 2017 and we solidified the lineup previously in March of 2017. We got started because Reed and I played in another D.C.-based tribute band called the Heirs of Hair, which focused on ‘80s hair metal music. The lead guitar player in that band works for the State Department, so he had to move to Venezuela, but Reed and I wanted to still play together; even though we had kind of moved on from the ‘80s thing.
In that band I was the bass player and let’s just say that bass players in ‘80s hair metal bands didn’t have a whole lot to do. I also really wanted to go back to playing guitar because I hadn’t been a guitar player in a band for quite a long time at that point, so I threw out the idea of doing punk music since Reed is really into it. We moved forward with that idea and then we started looking for a bass player. I put up an ad on Craigslist and Nik was the first or second person to respond to the ad. He was the first person to come out and try out, and by like 20 minutes into the audition we were pretty much calling the other people to tell them to not waste our time, we found our guy.
RW: Funny story: during the tryout, Nik was an amazing vocalist and then it turned out that the joke was on us, because he turned out to suck! [Laughs]
RW: But then, after gigging around for a year and a half, his voice is back to how good it was once during tryouts.
NS: That is such high praise, thank you. Wow, with friends like you, who needs enemies? Holy crap!
AS: Love you guys!
It’s really great that you guys mesh so well and can joke around and have fun on and off the stage.
NS: Yeah, you know, we were just talking about this just last weekend, actually. We had some random fans who have never seen us before come up and introduce themselves to us and say that they had seen us last weekend in D.C. and drove 40 miles out to see us in Reston, Va. I should say 40 minutes not 40 miles, but we were like, “Man, that’s crazy!”
We all kind of got talking about it and saying that we really think that we are legitimately friends and we enjoy being around each other. I think that really translates to what we are doing on stage and people can tell that we’re just loving the fact that we take the piss out of each other in the middle of a performance. It’s funny and the crowd gets into it. We mesh really well on many levels.
AS: Yeah, I always get the comments from people that I’m friends with or friends of friends who always say like, “Do you guys rehearse your stage banter? Is it scripted?” And no, that’s literally off the top of our heads, like completely off the cuff. It just goes to show that the three of us can get along so well, work well with each other so much so that it comes across looking almost rehearsed.
That’s fantastic. It has to be a lot of fun to do that on stage, as well as off stage. It really must make it worthwhile to enjoy every moment.
NS: For sure.
So you guys are always doing these live shows and these gigs all around your area. What is your favorite part of putting on these performances? How do you connect with the audience during them?
RW: So you may have noticed, but we are three very attractive men. [Laughs] Ladies love us.
AS: That is pretty false. We get a lot of dudes at our shows. Mostly, actually.
RW: No, a lot of ladies.
AS: Half of our songs go out to the fellas. We love the fellas.
RW: But it has truly been cool to see who are regulars are. I think one of the things that helps is the breaks we take between sets; in that we get good conversations going with people who have seen us two, three, four, five, six times. So we build a good connection with them and start liking each other on Facebook and following each other on Instagram. It moves from a fan/rockstar feeling to a very, “Hey, you’re cool. Next time you’re here, let’s have a beer together,” relationship, which I think helps bring people back again and again.
NS: Just real quick, to build off what Reed was saying, you know, since all three of us live within 20 minutes of each other and we’re all pretty active in the D.C. scene and we have a pretty large friend base to draw from, we try to play local shows and local to D.C. so that all of our friends can come. It’s really great having a very supportive circle that will come to our shows and we will see them from the stage and start messing with them from the stage. It really makes for an inclusive experience. We get to know even more people as more and more people come, and as Reed was saying, people come, but not only to see our setlist — because there are a good number of bands who are doing our set — but I think there is a very genuine element to the show that we put on that people will go out of their way to see.
AS: Yeah, I mean, to even piggyback off of that, it’s kind of incredible because we are to a point now, and this isn’t meant to be bragging, it’s just really, truly surreal to me, that we are getting to this point where people will come and see us, have no idea who we are, and then say, “Whoa, those guys were awesome!” and they’ll go to the next show at a different location. It’s not like they’re travelling across the country or anything like that, but they saw us in D.C. and they’re willing to go to Reston, or they saw us in Arlington and now they’re willing to go see us the next time we’re there.
That to me is just incredible. I think that it’s that we want to get to know people. It really is fun. When they realize that you recognize them as somebody to has been to more than one of your shows, you’re like, “Oh man, I remember you from Solly’s or from wherever.” That definitely impacts someone.
Back to the first part of the question, what do I love most about doing the live shows, I think that anytime that the crowd really gets into it and we’re feeling it…it’s like the crowd starts reacting and we play better. The energy goes up and it’s just this cycle that builds and builds and builds. The concert ends — I really do call it a concert at that point — all of a sudden, it’s turned into a concert and we’re tearing it down and we’re exhausted. It’s like we just ran a marathon and there’s still people hanging out. That to me is probably my favorite part of it.
Absolutely! Speaking of the audience getting really into it, what are some songs that you see to be constant fan favorites and get the best reactions at all of your live shows?
NS: “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy is a huge one, “American Idiot” by Green Day, “Scotty Doesn’t Know” is also always a really popular one. Those are the three, but more and more I think “Best of You” by the Foo Fighters. I have had a couple of people come up to me and tell me that they think that is our signature song, because nobody else really does that song and we do it and we do it pretty well.
RW: If I can maybe put like a theme on kind of what our favorite songs are to play, it’s any song that has a chorus or a verse or something that has words that everyone knows the words to and everyone just screams it right back at us. A lot of the Blink songs, everybody loves singing, “Work sucks, I know” in “All the Small Things”. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” too, yeah, everyone loves singing the first verse out loud. Any time that we can put a song out there that generates this reaction from the audience that I did to participate in this right now: those are our favorite songs. I feel like 90 percent of our setlist is geared toward songs that get the most out of an audience.
Right! That’s how you have all of the fun! As a band, what are your goals for the rest of the year, for the next two years…What are your plans?
RW: Well, the dream of any cover band is always to play the biggest local venue, so our dream — and we’ve joked about this ––we all have a different dream. My dream is to play the 9:30 Club, Adam’s dream is to play the Fillmore, and Nik wants to play…?
NS: Just where the ladies are.
RW: I mean playing bigger venues that we’ve seen some of our favorite bands at, I think that’s the dream and that takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work. You need to earn the right to play those places, you need to earn the right to attract a thousand fans. This is something that takes years to do, but we’re going to put all of the effort in…and after only a year and a half in, I think we’ll find the time to be able to do this and even play these places come 2020.
AS: I think there are some really well-established tribute and cover bands in the D.C. area and it’s really amazing what they’re able to do. They can sell out State Theatre and they can say, “Hey guys, we have a last-minute show! We’re going to be playing at this venue in three days!” and they will have a thousand people show up to it. That’s amazing. I think, personally, I would love to get to that level.
Learn more about The Poprocks and where you can catch their next performances at Facebook.com/poprocksbanddc.