The feeling of love. The power of unity. The essence of happiness. The strength of togetherness and positive vibrations. The highs of living life and the lows of dealing with its obstacles. All these things encapsulate the music of Cincinnati, OH-based Rockstead, a five-piece, passion driven rock/reggae group.
With roots leading as far back as middle school, Rockstead combines a lifetime full of influences ranging from rock, punk, reggae, jam and metal. In their early days, Rockstead ruled the college party scene in Ohio with a schedule full of impromptu house shows that led to packed basements of DIY venues and later, massive crowds attending college fests such as Ohio University’s infamous spring festivals. This early success catalyzed the debut of their first album “Wake Up and Live” (2013) shortly followed by their popular self-recorded “Rise” EP (2014). These releases ignited their inner road warrior leading to a plethora of plays at music festivals and concert venues across the Midwest. Since then, Rockstead continues to widen its reach touring throughout the Eastern U.S. and down into Florida.
Though member changes have occurred over the years, frontman singer/guitarist Jake Burns continues to drive the group forward as they have shared stages with international touring acts such as The Wailers (Jamaica), Sticky Fingers (Australia) and Big Mountain (U.S.A.) as well as many staple East coast reggae acts like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Badfish, Tropidelic, Bumpin’ Uglies and Ballyhoo!. The band has now grown to include Nate Anuci (drums) and Jacob Riley (lead guitar). With a healthy gap since their last full release (Homegrown, 2016) Rockstead dropped their first studio album “You’re In Control” in September 2020 which scored them multiple features in blogs and podcasts across the scene making them “one of the most unique and special bands in [Cincinnati]” (CincyMusic, 2020).
By using their relentless high-energy performances and genre-bending setlists, while aligning their unwavering dedication to the do-it-yourself work ethic, Rockstead shows no sign of slowing down their mission of bringing people together through music.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Jake B: I’m not really sure if this was given to me as advice, I may have just heard it somewhere but I’ve since taken it as advice, “write honest music”. Those words sunk deep into me when I heard them and it wasn’t until about halfway through my music career did they come along. A big portion of my writing up to that point had been spent trying to fit into a box, making music that HAD to fit the genre and writing words I thought others wanted to hear. Since then I have opened up a lot more with my writing. I’m creating lyrics that are much more centered around my personal feelings and experiences, some of which are very vulnerable. The band as a whole is now making music that we truly enjoy playing and it pulls from the wide variety of music that we listen to and grew up on. That advice allowed me to start making music for myself again.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Jake B: I think the thing I enjoy most about being an artist is the idea that we are able to create something from nothing. Music, and art in general, is a never ending cycle of inception. Art has been around since the dawn of mankind and still, new things are coming to be every single day. As an artist, the world is your oyster. You have the opportunity and ability to turn anything in your daily life into inspiration and use it to create something completely original. I think that’s pretty cool.
What are your musical plans for the next 12 months or so?
Jake B: We’ve got big plans! We are currently in the process of planning out our next album release. We’ve got a bunch of new singles we will be dropping over the next few months or so along with music videos and lyric videos to match. On top of that, we have plans to play tour dates out west which is something we have never done before. We’re very excited!
When you create music, what is your personal purpose or goal?
Jake B: Personally, when I create music, my goal is to make something that I enjoy playing. Whether it’s a sad song, a happy song, or a rock tune, I have to like playing it. If I don’t enjoy playing it then it won’t hit as hard for any of the folks watching or listening. As I mentioned above, I write music for myself these days. If it comes out honest and genuine and I feel that, then I know other people are going to like it too.
When did you start writing music?
Jake B: I started playing guitar and writing music when I was about 12 years old. I started a band in 8th grade with some friends of mine called Broken On Impact (lol) and we had about six original songs. They are recorded on a CD somewhere. Now I’m going to have to go find it…
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
Jake B: He’s not alive anymore but Heath Ledger. Definitely one of my favorite actors of all time.
What makes you nostalgic?
Jake B: Any 2000’s pop/punk, emo, metal, or hardcore music. I lived for that shit in middle school and high school. It was the first type of music that I really discovered on my own. My friends and I used to hit countless shows all the time. We’d go to Warped Tour every summer, even volunteering to be a vendor selling Gatorade and water so that we could get in for free. I miss those days.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?
Jake B: Commit to your craft and go all in! For a while, I was unsure of whether or not this music thing was going to be a career choice for me or if we were just out there having fun. It wound up being both! I just wish I would have committed earlier on.
What’s your least favorite personality trait you like about yourself?
Jake B: I can’t multitask. At all. If I am doing something that one thing gets my attention and I check out of everything else. Sorry, not sorry.
Do you have a cherished childhood teddy bear or other stuffed animal sitting on your bed at home?
Jake B: I don’t but now I have to talk about my stuffed animal routine as a kid. I used to have bunk beds in my room and I had about 10 different stuffed animals I would put on the top bunk (I slept on the bottom). Every night I would take turns sleeping with a different stuffed animal because I didn’t want any of the other ones to get jealous. Haha!
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