Prescott Now: How long have you guys been playing together?
Sky Conwell: I’ve lost track! As the current lineup? I think nine years. My drummer Mike and I even longer.
Prescott Now: What genre or genres of music do you play? What about them inspires you?
Sky Conwell: We started playing nothing but rockabilly and surf music. We played Pipeline, Miserlou, Rock Around the Clock, and Big River at almost every gig.
But we have kind of evolved. We still play fun energetic music, but we have expanded to include a lot of classic rock, traditional country, golden oldies and other types of high energy familiar, danceable songs. Now we will mix in a little CCR and Tom Petty with our regular Ventures and Carl Perkins.
The audience inspires us. I just want to play what I feel like the audience wants to hear. At most places we play, the audience wants to hear fun, upbeat familiar songs so that they can sing along and dance.
But as far as the rockabilly and surf influence? I was raised on good country music, but I remember one summer day I discovered my mother’s Elvis’ records. A year later, as I was learning to play electric guitar, I was fascinated by the super deluxe reverb sound of the twangy surf guitar bands. I wanted to create music like that!
Prescott Now: What is the key to being a successful musical act in Prescott and Northern Arizona?
Sky Conwell: There is so much amazing talent here. I truly believe the more talented players we have, the better the scene is.
It is important to have fun. The Pop Rocks are not the most talented band in Prescott, but we always have SO much fun with each other, with the music and with the audience.
Prescott Now: What’s the smallest audience you’ve played for; the biggest?
Sky Conwell: Years ago I had a regular Monday evening solo gig. One time nobody showed up. The smallest audience I’ve played for was an audience of zero. I still played the gig, though, hoping that “If you play they will come.”
For a few consecutive years The Pop Rocks played at the annual Lake Havasu Rockabilly Reunion. The last time we played they gave us a very nice time — late afternoon on Saturday. There were probably about three to four thousand people, and they had us loud enough to be heard throughout the entire festival.
Prescott Now: Where do you find your inspiration for your songwriting, performances?
Sky Conwell: When I first began writing songs I wrote to entertain. I wrote a lot of funny songs, novelty songs, clever idea songs, silly songs, etc.
As I matured, my songs, too. I became honest and vulnerable, and it came out in the songs. I get inspired by the greats. My favorite songwriters are Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
I get inspired when seeing an amazing band. (This year) I went with my girl to Viva Las Vegas, the biggest rockabilly festival in the world. I was inspired watching Deke Dickerson and his many projects.
Prescott Now: What brought you to Prescott?
Sky Conwell: I moved to Prescott Valley to get out of Phoenix. When I got divorced in 2013, I moved to Prescott to be close to the music scene. I live downtown a block and a half away from Whiskey River Tavern.