‘Teen Revolution’: The evolution of Rough Draft

Rough Draft recently released their newest EP, "Walmart Parking Lot Lovemaking Soundtrack, vol. 2," on Jan. 19, 2020. Since their inception during the band members' later high school years, Rough Draft has risen to local prominence and watched the so-called 'teen revolution' in the music scene unfold.

We’re all rough drafts of our true selves, always young and always learning — this is the concept behind Rough Draft’s new EP, released on Jan. 19.

Despite “Walmart Parking Lot Lovemaking Soundtrack, Vol. 2” being Rough Draft’s second full release, some of the songs featured on the EP were the first ones they wrote. This release was more of a nostalgia project, lead vocalist James Noriega said.

According to lead guitarist Mahmood Gladney, the first six songs on the EP were written when Rough Draft was still in its infancy, during the band member’s final stint at Tucson High Magnet School between September 2017 and October 2018. 

Before the EP’s release, the songs were played intermittently at shows and released on the first collection Rough Draft ever produced — which has since been purged from the internet, Gladney said. The final song, “I Love You, Do You Remember?” is the most recent song, written about that period in their lives.

“It’s both us indulging in being juvenile, but kind of reflecting on being juvenile, because it’s all of our old songs and then it’s a new song about the time when we wrote those old songs,” Noriega said.

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Rough Draft was formed when its four core members were still in high school: Noriega on vocals, Gladney on guitar, Bryan Zamarripa on the bass and Cole Kraft on the drums. Now, Noriega and Gladney juggle attending the University of Arizona while keeping up their high school hobby.

While Kraft was unable to attend a group interview with the band, his contribution to this EP was at the forefront of the discussion.

“When [Kraft] came up with this name, we were talking about the EP’s name. We couldn’t decide what to call it. I think we argued for the entire practice,” Noriega said. “Then [Kraft] showed up and literally we were like, ‘Hey, we don’t know what to name the EP,’ and the current name for the EP [Walmart Parking Lot Lovemaking Soundtrack, Vol. 2] is just the first thing he said.”

In 2017, when the boys were just starting out, they had other band names on the table. But according to Noriega, “Rough Draft” was the only name the band seriously considered.

“You just kind of are a rough draft of yourself, was the idea,” Noriega said. “Something that I’ve learned, I think, as I’ve grown up, and from talking to a lot of people who are older than me is that … you can’t become fully realized. That’s not really possible to become that.”

According to Gladney, the concept of humans being rough drafts is incredibly prevalent in the band’s music, especially in the most recent EP.

“I think a central theme of man is always constantly evolving,” Gladney said. “I definitely think the stuff we’re writing for our next project — whenever that happens — it’s already starting to sound a lot different than the album, the previous album. That’s what a lot of those songs are [about]. We’re a lot older.”

The local music scene might be a rough draft too. The band members have noticed the music scene in Tucson continuously re-write itself in their few years on the stage. Particularly, it has become more accepting of teenagers.

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“When we were teenagers, there was really nothing for us to do,” Gladney said. “Going to shows back then, all of them are 21 and up, like everything. [Club] Congress used to be 21 and up always. Rialto would have, like, two relevant acts that teenagers would be into, and they would all be 21 and up … but I think one of the reasons that this teen revolution has also happened [is] because as soon as [Club Congress] noticed that this sort of thing was happening, … they were super on board.”

This “teen revolution” isn’t confined to Tucson, however. Zamarripa noticed the same transformation outside of Tucson.

“If you look at other local scenes in a different state, you’ll see something of a similar sort. Mostly, or most notably, we’ve seen it in Albuquerque,” Zamarripa said. “Like, little DIY spaces are occupying just a little corner of the internet, and that spreads and so on and so forth. I think that’s what’s helped us too.”

UA freshman Hannah Cruz-Lewis noticed this widespread pattern on the internet as well.

“I feel like Rough Draft has really made an impact on the local scene,” Cruz-Lewis said. “They’ve put their music on streaming services and are starting to become really well known, which I’m super proud of them for. When their album came out, I saw so many people supporting them online, people that I didn’t even realize knew Rough Draft or the local scene.”

The final song on the EP is an ode to the days when Rough Draft members were only local up-and-comers.

“To have a song [on the album] I wrote more recently, that’s more just looking at all of [the songs] and not just seeing them as, like, ‘Oh well, here’s a bunch of stuff that a bunch of young kids made,’ but, ‘Here’s a really important snapshot of a time in all of our lives that I kind of miss,’” Noriega said.

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“I Love You, Do You Remember?” holds personal significance to Noriega. Toward the end of the song, he laments the state of the food in his fridge after he unplugged it to record the song.

“But I like how it ends like that just because, I mean, that’s how life is,” Noriega said. “You have a traumatic event happen to you and then, like, a dog shits on the street next to you, and it’s like, ‘Oh, … so now that’s the next thing I have to deal with.’ You know, that’s the next thing that’s going on.”

“Walmart Parking Lot Lovemaking Soundtrack, Vol. 2” is available on Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes, Google Music, Napster and other music providers.

Rough Draft will perform as part of a benefit show for Australia featuring Sydney-based band Death Bells on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Club Congress, where they encourage a $10 donation.

As always, thanks to the “teen revolution,” the show is for all ages.



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