After a few quiet years, Codename: Rocky came out of quarantine and hit 2022 with a bang. In May, they released the latest in a series of EPs, the four-song “Blueprint.” They played shows with The Aquabats earlier this year and alongside Voodoo Glow Skulls just a few weeks ago.
Last weekend, they took part in the Second Annual Summer Sizzler, the ska festival hosted by the Garden Amp in Garden Grove. I spoke with trumpet player Bill Adams to discuss the band’s history and their future, which is looking brighter and brighter.
Kevin: How did you get involved with music prior to Codename: Rocky?
Bill: I played horns in a band called Channel 6, which was more surf-rock ska, kind of (beach rock) like Sublime. I was friends with the guys in the OC ska band Low Pressure. That’s how I met Daniel and Matt. I went to Pico Rivera to see them play live in one of their garages and that’s how they got me to join. It’s funny because I was primarily a trumpet player, but I played trombone on one song in Channel 6. The guys in Codename: Rocky already had a trumpet player but needed a trombone player so they hired me, but eventually we figured out a way to have two trumpeters.
Kevin: Who were some of your earliest ska influences?
Bill: Early on I was really into a lot of hardcore music, which led to punk shows. I went to (the now defunct) Club 369 and saw Dance Hall Crashers there. I was sold immediately. I knew this was the music for me. Growing up, I was definitely more into ska punk, so like harder ska: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Voodoo Glow Skulls, this was around ’94. This eventually led me to more Third Wave ska bands like Knuckle Brothers and Reel Big Fish.
Kevin: With lead singer and primary songwriter Daniel Torres departing the band, what has it been like having to incorporate a new singer/songwriter?
Bill: In 2017, Daniel pulled us aside and said, ”You know with family and career I just don’t have the time or heart into this anymore.” There were no hard feelings, he told us, “I hope you guys keep the band going because it has meant so much to me over the years.” So, with his blessing we recruited a longtime friend of ours, Justin Pincon, the former lead singer and guitarist of Eve of Destruction. Justin told us right away he really wanted to focus solely on vocals, so we asked Matthew Montoya (formerly of Cry Havoc) to replace Daniel on guitar. And with that, our lineup was complete again.
Kevin: The band was on hiatus for nearly a decade from 2004 until around 2012. What inspired you to get back together?
Bill: We took a pause in 2004, we had been playing together for several years and were just kind of burnt out and had other responsibilities. (Anaheim ska band) My Superhero did a reunion show at the Glasshouse in 2011. A lot of the opening bands were also playing reunion sets and Codename: Rocky was asked to play. In anticipation for the show, we ended up writing a song called “Mile Markers.” We had so much fun playing that night we decided, “Hey, let’s keep doing this.” That song would eventually become the lead track off the 2016 full-length album, “Reboot.”
Kevin: This is probably a question you heard a lot back when you first started, but where exactly did you guys come up with the name for the band?
Bill: (laughs) We were rehearsing in a garage in Pico Rivera in our early days. We just found out we got our first show, which ended up being a backyard house party and we needed to come up with a name to put on the flyer. One of the guys was looking through the newspaper and came to the racing section for the Del Mar racetrack. There he saw the name for one of the horses: Codename: Rocky.
Kevin: Your latest EP, “Blueprint,” was just released this past May. I’ve checked it out and love it, but what can you tell our readers about it?
Bill: Honestly, as weird as it may or may not sound, the pandemic helped us; we wrote 14 songs basically because we had nowhere to go and were locked down 24 hours a day. We’re slowly releasing the songs in batches of four and the first one is “Blueprint.” It’s engineered by (former Death by Stereo bassist) Paul Miner, who we’ve worked with in the past and has also produced for New Found Glory, Atreyu, and Thrice. He’s actually touched every single one of our albums in some way, whether it was being an engineer, mastering tracks, or recording at his wonderful studio, Buzzbomb Studios.
Kevin: Codename: Rocky was part of the Second Annual Summer Sizzler that took place this past weekend at the Garden Amp. I heard it didn’t quite go off without a hitch, though.
Bill: We found out that the show was completely sold out ahead of time. Not three minutes later, we get a phone call from our lead singer Justin saying he’s lost his voice. We didn’t know it at the time, but he would soon test positive for COVID, as well. We called the promoter and told him what happened. He said he’d understand if we had to pull out, but he really believed in us and wanted to see us play.
Bill continued: We were beyond lucky that our good friend, Jared Palazzolo, of Sailor Songbook stepped up and offered to take on lead vocals. He took a look at our setlist and already knew all the lyrics to most of the songs we were planning on playing. He ended up singing on nine of the songs, including a brand new one, “Post Prescriptions” off of “Blueprint.” Evan Wohrman from Hooray for Our Side sang on “Oh, Lonely Nights” and a Misfits cover. We told the crowd, “Our lead singer lost his voice just as we were preparing to play this show. We’ve basically had zero practice with this lineup, so please be patient with us.” But the crowd was so cool and really cheering us on. It’s like they empathized with us and were rallying for us.
Kevin: What’s next for Codename: Rocky?
Bill: We’ll be playing a FREE show with Cliffdiver and Skatsune Miku at Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton, which is owned by our buddy Efrem from Death by Stereo and Voodoo Glow Skulls. We would love everyone to come out and have one last great time with us to end the summer.
Thank you to Bill Adams from Codename: Rocky. Make sure you pick up “Blueprint” and catch them live as soon as you can.