Danny Rocco wasn’t sure what he should do next.
His band Secret Weapons had to go on hiatus after its major-label debut because his friend and bandmate Gerry Lange was struggling with his health. “It was so tough,” says Rocco, who grew up in the Rockville Centre scene with Lange. “People would see this fun show onstage with us on stage, but we always had to know where the nearest hospital was.”
It got to the point last year where Lange, who was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease, couldn’t keep touring. “He never wanted to let me down,” says Rocco, adding that Lange is improving now. “But he told me, ‘Go do your own thing.’ ”
After taking some time to think, Rocco came up with Des Rocs.
“Initially, it was quite lonely,” Rocco says. “It felt weird just sitting in the studio alone, so I went upstate with just a typewriter and a guitar and started writing.”
His songs were harder-hitting, more rock-oriented than the dance-pop songs Secret Weapons were known for, including the hit “Something New.”
“I went back to my roots, back to the rock and roll stuff I grew up on,” Rocco says. “Rock’s in such a weird place right now. It sounds pretty much the same today as it did when I was in high school. I took everything I learned with Secret Weapons and applied it to rock.”
The result was “Let the Vultures In” (Des Rocs), an EP filled with rock guitars and massive pop production. “I like big-sounding things,” he says. “I wanted to shake things up. Rock sounds so sleepy now. That’s just not my energy.”
Des Rocs quickly built a following, as Rocco began touring with friends like The Struts. However, as a solo artist, he realized he could move much faster than he had in the past. “Because I’m self-produced, I can put things out quickly, just like a rapper can,” he says, adding that his new single “Outta My Mind” reflects a different side than the EP. “It’s great to have that kind of creative license. These songs are always going to be me, but I can try different things. If it doesn’t click with someone, I’ll have another song out six weeks later. I’ve gotten into a rhythm now. I know who I am and what I want to make.”
Des Rocs plays Rough Trade, 64 N. 9th St., Brooklyn, on March 19. Tickets are $15 through AXS, 888-929-7849, axs.com.