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The Rooks gained a cult following among power pop fans in the 1990s with a style drawing its main inspirations from the Beatles, Big Star, and the Replacements. Leader and co-founder Mike Mazzarella (vocals, rhythm guitar) formed the group in New York with drummer Patrick Yourell in 1990 after their previous outfit, a Connecticut band called the Broken Hearts, dissolved. An early incarnation of the Rooks featured Mazzarella's friend and fellow power-popper Richard X. Heyman, as well as Heyman's wife Nancy on bass and guitarist Michael Fernbach. However, this lineup was short-lived, and several demos were recorded with guitarist Kristin Pinell (also of the Gripweeds); Mazzarella had intended to record one album only, but Pinell convinced him to make the unit a full-time operation. Yourell left the group in 1992 and was replaced by Jim Riley, while the bass slot was filled by Annmarie Gatti. This lineup completed the Rooks, which was released in 1993. Yourell rejoined the band in 1994 for an Eastern European tour, and the Rooks signed with Not Lame Recordings that fall, also adding Anne Benkovitz on bass. The band split an LP with Twenty Cent Crush, contributing nine songs to the release titled A Double Dose of Pop! in 1995, and that year also released the more melancholy EP Chimes. The Rooks returned in early 2000 with Wishing Well on Not Lame Recordings.