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Singer/songwriter/guitarist Rob Goraieb (last name pronounced "go-rye-ebb") got his start in jr. high school singing Lennon & McCartney songs at a convalescent hospital.
He and his old friend, Tim, played a weekly schedule of performances before groups of senior citizens who had never even heard of The Beatles. "In a strange way it was a great music apprenticeship,” joked Rob in a recent interview. “Talk about a tough audience.”
Content to play Beatle covers forever, it wasn't until hearing The Jam and The Clash that Rob found his own music identity.
"I was listening to The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, even though those groups weren't my generation," said Rob. "But then I caught on to punk and the second wave of mod. Everything clicked. It consumed me."
At the age of 14, he got his first break when asked to sing on the Gleaming Spires record, "Funk For Children" (released on the Posh Boy/Vodka Label).
The band for the legendary eccentric duo, Sparks, Gleaming Spires - who also had the hit song, "Are You Ready for the Sex Girls?" - opened the door wider for Rob. "It was a great experience to record and hear it on the radio and everything. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do."
From there, like any young musician, Rob was in amateur bands - a few, in fact, that were actually quite good, namely The Dynamics, a high-energy mod group, and local favorites, The Signal, an original/cover band that played almost every weekend - and once called the cops on themselves to get out of a particularly boring gig.
He won talent shows; played school dances and parties; picked up whatever he could from those around him, including his father's many professional musician friends, as well as from Charlie Colin of the Grammy Award-winning band, Train. He even played guitar in a touring youth musical. "I just got experience wherever and however I could. I didn’t care who or what it was for, as long as I was doing music," said Rob.
"But for a short period I seriously considered trading music for theater and acting." In fact, Rob took top acting honors two years in a row at his school, as well as within the district, but decided to turn down an offer to study acting.
Still, as the early '90s approached, Rob had yet to discover his own voice.
"I played in a band that was fortunate enough to do some touring in Eastern Europe, but we weren't very good," said Rob.
Frustrated, he decided to seek out and support other bands instead of forming his own. That would come later.
He began by touring and co-writing two acclaimed records, the E.P. "Sunday Is An Altogether Different Proposition" (Icehouse Records) and the full-length CD "Begging At The Temple Gate Called Beautiful" (Brainstorm Artists International), with Clash of Symbols, featuring Mike Stand of the pioneer punk band, Altar Boys.
A hard rock band with catchy pop melodies, similar to Weezer, Clash of Symbols enjoyed much popularity with their hit song, “Free”, and energetic live performance.
"I loved playing and recording with Clash of Symbols. Matt, Steve, and Bob are the best. Mike taught me a lot. He's a great friend. Underrated songwriter. I'm still a fan of his."
Rob also played and recorded with indie group, Just Plain Big. "They went on to sign a deal with Caroline Records, I think."
"I was in a group called King Holiday, too," said Rob. "I enjoyed that. It was a Mike Knott project. He's a definite talent. We did some stuff for Elektra Records."
Rob even put together a pop/soul group called The Defenders (where he worked with keyboardist Chris Diede who would later join The Get Set). The seven-piece band played a handful of packed, enthusiastic club dates, but Rob folded it without notice. "I don't know, the timing just wasn't right. The people in the band were great. I just didn't have what it took to carry it off properly, plus I was focused on other bands at the time. Who knows, maybe one day some of the songs will get put out," said Rob.
It wasn't until 1996 that Rob started to feel his own purpose coming on.
In the midst of another European tour, he sang and played some new material for an up-and-coming record executive. The guy loved what he heard and immediately courted Rob for a record deal.
And the rest, as they say, is history...
Soon thereafter, Rob walked away from all other commitments to form the rock band, Kosmos Express.
From early 1997 to mid-1998, they released two critically acclaimed records, "Now" co-produced by Craig Nepp (Save Ferris, The Ventures, Sense Field, Jeffries Fan Club) and "Simulcast" featuring the smash-hit song “The Force”, produced by Gene Eugene (Aunt Bettys, Starflyer 59) both on Zomba Recording Co. labels: Sub-Lime Records and Essential Records.
Kosmos Express toured an intense live show; enjoyed airplay of its singles and videos around the world; appeared on television and movie soundtracks and various compilations; received favorable press internationally, including book inclusions; but decided to call it quits in 2000, feeling the band had effectively run its course - though the group continues to receive airplay and attention to this day, especially overseas.
“I’m amazed by the love Kosmos still gets from people. That band will always be special to me. Beau, G.J., and Mark are extremely talented musicians and great guys. I wish nothing but the best for them in the future,” said Rob. “Same goes for The Greek and Ronnie Alayra. Their contributions early on were crucial.”
After a short break and an extended songwriting sabbatical, Rob decided to carry on assembling his next band under the name, The Get Set.
Formed in 2001, the pop/rock group signed an exclusive recording contract with top independent label, Crank! A Record Company (The Gloria Record, Mineral, The Icarus Line, Neva Dinova).
The Get Set's critically acclaimed debut, "Down Marriott Lane!" (released early 2002), was produced by renowned producer/songwriter/musician, Rob Laufer (Fiona Apple, Johnny Cash, Melissa Ferrick, Frank Black).
Tokyo-based Trident Style Records inked a deal in 2004 to release “Down Marriott Lane!” in Japan.
The Get Set, heavily mod and soul influenced, furthered Rob's credibility and popularity as an energetic performer, and took his songwriting to new heights.
Rob's solo effort happened, in essence, by accident.
"In the course of four months, I wrote all this material and thought I'd make a solo record for a change. And actually, I never thought I could be a solo artist because I have such an odd last name." (Note: Rob's birth surname is Ward. Ward is his mother's maiden name. He went by Ward all the way through high school until 1987, when he confused things by adding and going by his father's last name.)
And with that, the full-length debut record, "Apartment 305" (B/R/M Records and Not Lame Recordings) was born.
Produced by Rob Laufer, guests on the record include bassist Dan Schwartz (Sheryl Crow, Susanna Hoffs, Jon Hassell, Brian Eno) and drummer Mark Powell.
Much of the record was cut live over four days at Wild Hamster studio in Los Angeles. Real stripped down and purposely not overly produced, many of the songs are first or second takes. The overall intent was to get the tunes down naturally. And while "Apartment 305" isn't a total departure, stylistically, from The Get Set or Kosmos Express, there are definitely things that make it different from his previous groups and records.
“Laufer’s brilliant. He deserves much credit for DML! and 305. He always gets what I’m doing and going for, and knows how to get you there and then some,” said Rob. “He’s a very gifted producer and musician. I hope to work with him again in the future.”
But while Rob may see his launch as a solo artist a matter of coincidence, the truth is he's always just been a songwriter who has preferred to hide within a band. In fact, you might say he's finally found the confidence to release under his own name.
Whether it's his own band, for another artist, or whatever other project he's writing for (in 2001, he co-wrote the closing song of a New York stage show) what you hear is always Rob. He's essentially been a solo artist in all of his bands, guiding things creatively, co-producing, co-designing artwork, merchandise, etc.
The songs on "Apartment 305" were put together in Rob's old apartment (yes, he literally lived in Apartment 305) in Downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter.
"I had a guitar and a tape recorder rolling while I stared out the window," said Rob. "It's amazing what you'll see on the street. I just reported what I felt and saw in whatever I was writing."
Rob comes from an extended musical family. His cousin is a world-class classical pianist. His uncle fronts an authentic bluegrass band. And his father has had tons of success in music and acting, most notably working with Motown-legend Lamont Dozier in the critically acclaimed R&B group Future Flight (signed to Capitol Records), as well as working on Broadway (including playing Ringo in the famous stage production, "Beatlemania"), songwriting for various Integrity Music artists, all the while amassing an impressive list of session and performance credits, among other things.
Needless to say, much has been written of Rob's love for '60s rock. But his musical influences more accurately range from Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen and Paul Weller, to jazz, world music, and a host of songwriters and bands in a variety of pop/rock and non-rock genres.
"I don't take the time or really care to follow or stay up on the music industry, not out of indifference or arrogance, but because I just do what I do," said Rob. "Besides, I don’t want to change my style or approach just because of some trend."
With Rob Goraieb's unique sensibility for prolific pop songwriting, it's been said that he's already written some "classics." In any case, with such an engaging voice, capable guitar-playing skills, a knack for melody, and an attitude not usually seen among his contemporaries, he continues to make more people stand up and take notice.
Currently, he and his wife are raising their children, while Rob's also recording and playing for other artists, as well as songwriting and producing for various outside projects. He most recently signed a multi-year TV and film representation deal with 5 Alarm Music and Rescue Records. His songs have appeared in Roswell (Warner Bros./20th Century Fox/UPN), Friday Night Lights (NBC/Universal), The Black Donnellys (NBC/Universal), Today Show (NBC), Everwood (The WB/Warner Bros.), Life (NBC), Jack & Bobby (The WB), and many others.