Soft Speaker International Communication Centre


An intimate interview with N. Rocchio

Sadly, the Chicago Tribune rejected Nick’s initial responses to their interview questions:

How old are you?
27 years old
Are you from Chicago?

I grew up just outside Chicago in Northwest Indiana in the same town as my soul brother, Paul Foreman.
Where in Chicago does the band live and practice?

We rehearse next to Mothra’s cocoon in Ukranian Village.
How did the band come together?

We all met at a dance hall (location not to be disclosed).  We used to sell stray cats to the lonely school girls there.
What was the idea behind the record?

There wasn’t any one concept behind I’ll Tend Your Garden.  Lyrically, Paul and I naturally arrive at a lot of the same places, but that’s probably due to the fact that we coincidentally have been using the same Crayon McNally Atlas.
What were your primary goals in recording? How do you feel about how it came out? What were the big challenges?

Throughout the process of writing the songs and arranging them as a band, we realized that it was definitely our best work to date.  We went into the studio very intent on capturing the live energy of the band, but with a polished finish, like lacquering an old coffee table to bring out its delightful imperfections.  Thanks to Brian Zieske, our engineer at Gallery of Carpet Recording, we achieved that goal.  As far as I’m concerned, the album is audiophile quality.  We did the whole thing to 2″ tape with minimal Pro-Tools overdubs.  All of the mixing and mastering was done on Brian’s delicious analog outboard gear.  It’s a treat on a pair of nice headphones.
What were the parts that surprised you?

The lengthier songs get into some heavy, heavy grooves, which is not something we had done much of in the past.  This is a pretty big change for us.  It helps that we have a tremendous rhythm section in Joe Daley and Blair Douglass.  Solid, like a viking or a can of beans.
Do you ever wish being in a band was easier? When?

No, no … musn’t grumble.
When you are playing live, what are you thinking about?

A giant tortoise the size of a mountain battling four thousand miniature gorillas.  A gruesome affair indeed.
What are you most nervous about when it comes to making or playing music?

I don’t really get nervous.  When you know you’ve got good songs and a hell of a band, you don’t have any reason to be nervous.  Let me introduce us:  Joe Daley on the sloppy drums, Blair Douglass on the bass guitar, Paul Foreman on guitar and vocals and myself on guitar and vox as well.  While we’re on that, the band never uses guest musicians on any recordings.  It’s just a rule that we stick to. Makes things less cluttered and keeps us sharp on our respective instruments.
Now that you have started playing outside Chicago some, what do you appreciate more about Chicago’s scene?

We appreciate all scenes, baby!  Chicago is great, though.  We always enjoy playing here.



The Burlap Rats Attack

Our dear friends, The Burlap Rats, stopped by our rehearsal space last night to play us a recording of their curiously-titled new tune, “(I’ll Read A) Story To You”. We liked it so much that we decided to post it on our site for everyone to hear. Personally, this song reminds me of the fictitious band, The Roosters, who featured prominently in director Abel Ferrara’s cult classic, Driller Killer.

Take a listen below or right click the arrow icon to save and download the track.

(I'll Read A) Story To You    


Subterranean Carsick Blues

(2011 W. North Ave. – corner of North/Damen/Milwaukee)
FRI 04/29/2011
DOORS @ 8:30 PM | SHOW @ 9:00 PM | 21 & OVER
Tickets: $8

Michael Lux & The Bad Sons
Soft Speaker (on stage time 9:45pm)
For those of you interested in the history of the band, here is another vintage newspaper clipping, which details one of Nicholas Rocchio’s endeavors following the demise of the original Soft Speaker:
September 17, 1950 – Richmond Times Dispatch

Anyone interested in motor cars could probably name all the makes being produced today without much trouble. And it wouldn’t be hard to name a few of the early models which have gone to automobile heaven where gas is free and there’s never a red light. But trying to call the roll of every automobile company ever started in this country would be a horse–oops–a car of another color. Don’t try it–there have been at least 1,507 of them.

There is, however, one man in Richmond who might be able to do it. He is Nicholas Rocchio.

Rocchio has one of the largest collections of early automobile advertisements in the country, close to 2,000 of them. They begin with A, B, C and go straight through the alphabet to the Zimmerman. Culled from such now-defunct periodicals as McClure’s, Munsey’s, Country Life in America, Century, Review of Reviews and others, these advertisements bring the chatter and noise of early automotive history to life.

Some of them were beauts. For instance, in 1903 one firm announced emphatically, “Any car will run downhill. Most any will run fairly on the level–but–the Elmore runs equally well uphill!” In 1905 another company appealed to horse lovers by labeling its product as “A Goer and a Stayer.” In 1907 the women were appealed to by one firm’s announcement that their car “Doesn’t need nerve or education. We’ll teach you how.” But in 1908 the Lindsley topped them all with the proud boast, “No swearing if you use this car.”

Rocchio’s hobby started by chance when he went prowling one day through the attic of his wife’s home in Afton, “the family dumping ground,” and ran across over 300 old magazines. Many of the ads he found in those magazines he sold to the firms that had made them–if they hadn’t gone out of business. This turned out to be so profitable that Mr. Rocchio tracked down hundreds of other old magazines and began collecting their advertisements.


Stream/Download Tracks From New LP: I’ll Tend Your Garden

Good Day!
The band’s new album, I’ll Tend Your Garden, is available now via iTunes for the measly sum of $8.91.  Want a cd?  We’ve got ‘em and they’ll appear in our webstore soon enough, but feel free to email us if you want one immediately.  Hesitant?  Drag your digital goobers to the NEW Soft Speaker Soundcloud CajiggerDreamy Nick posted four songs and one is free to download.  Impress your hipster neighbor with your eclectic taste!  You listen exclusively to bands that sound like an unintentional blend of Joy Division and Blue Öyster Cult!  Here’s what’s in store for your ear-canals:

Hawk Mountain Line
Find The Fountain
For A Handsome Price
Pagan Pastimes (d_rradio remix) – FREE DOWNLOAD – the original version of this is on the album, but this remix is not, so grab it while you can!


Soft Speaker Album Release Show

The Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich is pleased to announce the release of a full album’s worth of Soft Speaker recordings. Entitled I’ll Tend Your Garden, the album consists of nine (9) songs, all of which were recorded with renowned producer Dirk Bluebin, who worked with the orchestra in secret under the alias of Brian Zieske. A performance in celebration of the albums release is set to take place at Empty Bottle in Ch…icago, Illinois on Friday, April 1st, 2011. Also on the bill are California Wives.

In further Soft Speaker news, the following newspaper clipping has recently surfaced. It appears to recount details of a business venture of Joseph Daley that most likely pre-dated his involvement with the original Soft Speaker in the 1930’s:

Joseph “School-Teacher” Daley bought a wagonload of cats and cleared a thousand dollars of profit by selling them to lonely dance-hall girls. Daley said that he conceived of the idea when he noticed the loneliness of the dance-hall girls on lower Main Street during a prior trip to Cheyenne when he was working as a stage driver. Upon his return, Daley resigned his job and bought a spring wagon and six mules to do some “shotgun freightin’”. He offered local boys two bits apiece for all the cats they could find and he left with fifty or more cats – practically the entire cat population of Cheyenne. Setting up shop below Saloon Number Ten, Daley sold his cats for prices ranging from ten to thirty dollars, depending on their size. After an hour of intense haggling, Daley had his money and several cats that were not saleable due to their condition.


Soft Speaker / Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich

Friday, February 11, 2011 at The Beat Kitchen:

After the Great Blizzageddon of 2011, the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich feels it necessary to gather in mass as a sign of defiance and refusal to Ullr, the Norse God of the Snow. We will warm the tubes, engage the FUZZ, and melt a path of destruction to Ullr’s resting spot. Then we return with his frozen head on a golden blazing platter of which we will then feast upon. “Ich habe deine Seele gefressen!”

Gypsy Blood 9:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Astro Fang 9:45 PM – 10:15 PM (Dayton, OH. (DO NOT MISS!)
Couple Skate 10:30 PM – 11:15 PM
Soft Speaker 11:15 PM – MIDNIGHT


I’ll Tend Your Garden Listening Party

Schubas Upstairs Lounge
Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 (9:00 PM)

Funded by a not-for-profit organization composed primarily of shareholders of UniCredit Bankengruppe, the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich spent the large majority of summer and fall of 2010 recording nine (9) Soft Speaker compositions. These songs are part of the stockpile of charts discovered in Nicholas M. Rocchio’s safe deposit box at that very same bank in 2008. The Orchestra unanimously voted and subsequently selected renowned producer Dirk Bluebin, working in secret and under the alias of Brian Zieske, to oversee the sessions. The name of the album is I’ll Tend Your Garden and it will be released officially on April 19th, 2011. Schubas will be hosting a pre-release listening party in its upstairs lounge on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011. The dress code, which will be enforced, is described by the Orchestra as “Austrian Nightmare.” Admission is free.


Fiend By The Fence – Live @ Beachland Ballroom

Just got back from a great weekend in Cleveland where we played with Mr. Gnome and Hot Cha Cha at Beachland Ballroom.  Our new friend, Jim Amodio, filmed our entire set and has already posted clips on YouTube.  Here’s a brand new song, “Fiend By The Fence.”  This was actually our first time every playing this one live, so it’s cool to have it on video.  Enjoy!


Indispensable Gardening Skills

I'll Tend Your Garden

It took the four members of Soft Speaker the better part of the years 1930 and 1931 to complete the trek from New Mexico to Saskatoon on foot. Having just abandoned their floundering milk delivery service, money was tight. The roads in those days were treacherous and littered with scavengers. Never discouraged, they set forth with gusto! As luck would have it, they happened upon a tribe of underground-dwelling, humanoid creatures in Bonesteel, South Dakota, who kindly fed them various roots and starchy tubers (turnips, parsnips, radishes). The creatures referred to themselves as “gnomes,” and, being of a generally benevolent nature, taught the members of Soft Speaker indispensable gardening skills. Armed with this knowledge, the band set forth on their journey, stopping for periods of months at a time to set up underground camps for shelter and hidden gardens for sustenance. It is this portion of the band’s existence that enthusiasts believe inspired the song, “I’ll Tend Your Garden.”

When: Friday, November 12, 2010 10:00 PM – 1:00 AM CST
Where: The Hideout
1354 w. wabansia
Chicago IL 60622


Soft Speaker’s Voltage Experiment

Soft Speaker recently collected a considerable specimen of murky slime scraped from underside of Poseidon’s personal gondola. Wary of its possible ill-effects, the band quickly converted the substance into a series of electrical voltages, which they have tested extensively. These voltages are safe for human consumption and will be released on September 22nd at Empty Bottle. Those in attendance should expect to experience feelings of euphoria and possible brief moments of dizziness and confusion.

w/ Like Pioneers & +/-