Marco Rocca a musical workhorse

Whether performing as a member of Hope, The Nuclear or under his own name, Moncton musician Marco Rocca has been a part of the local music scene in some respect since the early 90s. Simple math will tell you that since Rocca is only 33 years old, he has been making music in the public eye since his early teens.

If you haven’t already heard of this fine fellow, Rocca is a workhorse of sorts. He immerses himself in music at every arguable possibility, whether that means teaching students to play guitar, or performing in various bars and clubs in Metro Moncton on any given evening of the week.

This coming weekend, Rocca will be wearing the hats of both bandleader and solo artist. His band The Nuclear will be performing at Downtown Moncton’s Manhattan Bar & Grill tonight. Tomorrow night, Rocca performs solo at the beautiful Parkindale Hall venue located on Route 895.

Though he has busied himself with numerous musical projects over the past 10 years, The Nuclear has arguably become Rocca’s primary focus since the 2008 release of their self-titled effort. Some might successfully argue that Rocca’s solo work, including his 2010 solo debut Hopeless In The Haze is of equal priority to that of the Nuclear however.

With The Nuclear, Rocca melds the influence of modern punk with a melodic sensibility that most musicians would kill for. His solo work has the same melodic sensibility but tends to be more reflective in nature. Whether writing songs for his band or his solo career, writing songs with memorable hooks seems to be as natural for Rocca as breathing is to others.

The past 18 months have been a fine tuning period of sorts for The Nuclear. The group, which had started out as a trio comprised of Rocca, drummer Tom Antle and bassist Pascal Toussiaint, had actually expanded to be a quartet for a period of time after Derek Robichaud (Iron Giant, The Monoxides) joined as a second guitarist. Approximately one year ago however, Robichaud’s career took him away from The Nuclear, reducing the band back to the trio format in which they had started.

“We are back to being a trio for now and are having a lot of fun with it,” Rocca says. “I wish I could have the best of both the trio and quartet worlds all of the time but it can be hard to make that work. I found that being a quartet took away some of the rawness of our live sound but at the point that Derek had joined, we had been a trio for almost four years so it was nice to try something new. I grew to love the sound of being a four-piece band though. Having Derek perform with us allowed us to play specific parts of the record in concert that had been previously relegated to being only on the record.”

Given the fact that The Nuclear’s album is now more than three years old, there is a natural curiosity as to when Rocca expects to have more Nuclear material readied for release.

“We recorded approximately 12 songs in Halifax earlier this year but only ended up being happy with approximately six of them. The other six songs that we recorded were new to us at the time and came together in a somewhat admitted rush. We have been working on refining those six songs however and have found that we have them in a much better place now.”

In addition to the dozen tracks that The Nuclear has already recorded, Rocca says the group has another five or six new songs up their sleeves, bringing the tally of new Nuclear songs up to the 17-song mark. He says that he hopes to take the cream of that 17-song crop to the recording studio before the end of July with the goal of making a new record with a still to be determined release date.

Rocca shares that he has also has a significant number of songs that could comprise a new solo record.

Article published in July 15, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript