NEW YORK CITY – Joey Ruckus is stirring up trouble again in the pop music world, preparing to unleash his second album, “Roof//Top,” on April 10.
Ruckus says the album will “elevate your party to the next level … literally, to the rooftop. I love the exclusivity of the roof, when everyone else is down at the party, you bring that one special person upstairs, and the night gets a little rucked up.”
Already available from the new LP is are two singles:
— “Shut//Up” is a humorous salute to Grindr and a sexy hookup who should have kept his mouth shut.
— “Glitter//Coal” is another amusing song, this time about a guy who puts on the glitter and a woman’s wig and puts on a show for New Yorkers on the street.
Ruckus calls himself a “Comedian. Social Media Artist. Pop Singer.” In that order. And he explains what that means.
Something of a local legend at the University of Connecticut, where he was a student and a star of his own reality-TV show called “More Famous than You,” Ruckus also gained fame for getting kicked out of the 2009 auditions for “American Idol.” He has appeared on MTV, Fox and YouTube.
In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Ruckus comes clean on who he is and what he is all about. Check out a couple of videos below.
SDGLN: Who is the real Joey Ruckus? Why did you develop this persona?
A: The real Joey Ruckus was born Joseph Louis Homza Jr., on July 6, 1989. Joey Ruckus was born on May 21, 2011.
This persona has been in-the-making for quite some time. It all started in 2009 when I (then Joey Homza) was kicked out of “American Idol” auditions for being too popular and entertaining. (See below: “Joey’s Infamous American Idol Audition” on YouTube). I was kicked out for literally causing ruckus with the Fox producers, and I made it to the national telecast for my antics!
“Ruckus” was added to the name during the recording of my first album, “More Famous Than You” (MFtY). It kind of just fell into place, actually. I was originally planning to enter the industry as “JJoey” but during recording sessions, my producer, JamesAI and I decided the music didn’t sound like it came from a “JJoey.” The “JJoey” name was too immature, and almost annoying. And these new beats were so brash, the sound was so raw. So JamesAI came up with “Joey Ruckus,” and I had to deal with it!
SDGLN: What is your background?
A: I am American. Born and raised in Connecticut. Now I live in Harlem, NYC.
SDGLN: You describe yourself as a “Comedian. Social Media Artist. Pop Singer.” Do you prefer one creative voice over another? Do they intermingle?
A: I’d say that above all, I am a singer. I’m always vibing. Since I was a little kid, I’ve been singing all different types of music.
Joey Ruckus, on the other hand, is primarily a comedian. Joey Ruckus is this sarcastic, spastic stage act. The word “Ruckus” is essentially an invitation for me to do most anything onstage. Lots of pop musicians live with a fourth wall. They are who they say they are, the fans see what they’re supposed to. Joey Ruckus, on the other hand, breaks down this fourth wall, and acknowledges that there IS an audience, and in doing so, he is kind of making fun of pop music altogether.
The Art of Social Media lies in a great promotional campaign. The public perceives truth through social media, but they’re really only believing what my team puts out there. It’s all about image management. And that can be artistic!
SDGLN: What’s the real story behind getting kicked out of the “American Idol” auditions?
A: Well, I’ve been to “Idol” auditions a cumulative three times. The first time, I was a very naive 18-year-old who thought, “Hey, I’ve got a good voice! I’ll just sing this song and I’m sure to make it to Hollywood!” No. Absolutely not. My antics with “American Idol” continued for the next few years. The second year I auditioned, I made quite the splash on the blog-o-sphere because I was the “most promising candidate” from the 2009 Boston auditions, but the irony was that they had ejected me before they could actually place me on the show! The blogs loved that. Especially VoteForTheWorst.com.
SDGLN: How would you describe your musical style?
A: Britney meets Drake in a club, they get all sweaty on the dance floor, and then Timberlake comes in to make it a hot three-way. Oh, and Rihanna is watching from the corner.
SDGLN: Who are your musical influences and inspirations?
and a lot of Broadway composers!
SDGLN: How does your comedian side impact your musical style? For example, the title of your debut album, “More Famous Than You,” seems slyly humorous.
A: “More Famous than You” is quite humorous, isn’t it?!
I have gotten so many reactions from that tagline. “MFtY” actually started in college, as a marketing vehicle. I attended the University of Connecticut, where I was very involved with the television station, UCTV. I knew early on that I was going to release music by the end of my college days, and when that music dropped, people needed to know. So, in 2008, I created my own reality show, called “More Famous than You.” The show ran for four seasons and was one of the most popular shows, making me one of the most visible and exposed students on campus. I am forever grateful for UConn and the opportunities I had there. I feel that college taught me more about managing personality than it did about anything. It also allowed me to have my first set of fans in the close-knit bubble that was a college campus.
SDGLN: Do you have a favorite single on your debut album?
A: My personal fave from MFtY is “Digitalove.” I love to sing through “R.S.V.P.” and “Anonymous” though.
Fan faves seem to be “HollyHood” and “Glitter & Coal.”
SDGLN: Your second album, “Roof/Top,” is coming out on April 10. Please describe what your fans can expect on the sophomore album.
A: The first record is really hip-hop, electronic and club-inspired. The second album has that same foundation, but we’ve really knocked up the BPM’s and allowed for a bit more dancing!
Also, the songs’ content is a lot less autobiographical. The first record really tells my coming-of-age story, the second record celebrates.
SDGLN: The single, “Shut/Up,” is already available to listeners. What is the genesis of that song?
A: Oh gosh! So, we all have those hookup buddies who are just SO GORGEOUS, right? When these hotties open their mouth to talk, though, the most unintelligent, uninteresting, and sometimes offensive statements come out. I can’t stand those types. They’re too cute for their own good, and their ego inflates, making them wildly unattractive. So, “Shut//Up” is a song about a hookup buddy that I met on that @Grindr. The song even references the GPS ability of the app, with lyrics like “72 & West End (Avenue)” but he really lived at 66 and Broadway, or something like that. It’s a really fun song, and the video is super sexy.
SDGLN: OK, so how much time do you spend on Grindr?
A: Too much. But I end up meeting a lot of great people, and if they’re not that attractive I’ll just link them to buy my album. 😉
SDGLN: Do you think being openly gay has any impact on your career, positive or negative?
A: I think it should be said that am openly into hooking up with dudes, but I am open to a lot of possibilities. I’m mainly attracted to males, but there have been quite a few times where I think to myself: “Damn that girl’s ass is haute.” I wouldn’t be opposed to chillin’ with the right girl, that’s for sure. As long as you know how to werk it!
SDGLN: What is playing on your MP3 player?
A: Today? My own stuff … the instrumentals. I’m rehearsing for my spring tour!
SDGLN: What is something your fans don’t know about you?
A: I was once a sailor.
SDGLN: Single or taken?
A: Single … but would really love a dude I could work hard for.
SDGLN: Boxers or briefs?
A: Usually boxer briefs, but that’s because I just don’t take much care in what underwear I wear. On YOU though, I want some tighty whities! HA!
SDGLN: If you could have the ultimate dinner party and invite three guests (living or dead), who would be there and why?
A: Amy Winehouse
Jesus. I hear he has good weed.
“Shut//Up” by Joey Ruckus
“Glitter//Coal” by Joey Ruckus
Behind the Music: Joey Ruckus
Joey’s INFAMOUS American Idol Audition! on YouTube
To learn more about Joe Ruckus or to buy his music, click HERE.
Footnote: Ruckus reports on March 2 that he has deleted his Grindr account.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.