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  • Interview: The Rocket Summer

    Mon, 21 Apr 2008 07:26:03

    Interview: The Rocket Summer - Blast off to the top

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    Worcester is a strange place. First of all, it seemingly pops up out of nowhere off I-290 in Massachusetts. Drive about an hour west from Boston on the heavily forested highway, and suddenly, a full-blown, industrial city appears out of nowhere. That's lovely Worcester, in all its strange glory. Despite the factory smog, high crime rate and barren streets, the city has one solid asset, The Palladium. It's an old, slightly rundown theater that exudes an ere of music history. Every prominent act on the rise has cut their teeth under the strangely ornate stage overhang. The Rocket Summer from Texas are no exception.

    Before they hit this classic Western Mass stage, frontman Bryce Avary relaxes on his tour bus outside the venue. As usual, it's hazy in Worcester, but that's okay, because the show's sold out—like most of the dates on the tour. The weather tends to matter less and less under those circumstances. The Rocket Summer are co-headlining the Alternative Press Tour with All Time Low, and the tour's quickly cemented The Rocket Summer as alt-emo heroes. About the highly successful jaunt, Avary comments, "It's been awesome! It's like Warped Tour in clubs, because it's got a really diverse lineup. The crowds have been great to us too." Given their penchant for churning out infectious and strangely soulful alt rock ditties, The Rocket Summer no doubt deliver a memorable show for each and every crowd. Before gracing The Palladium's dusty stage, Avary spoke to ARTISTdirect about the tour, The Rocket Summer's fantastic breakout album Do You Feel (Island/Def Jam) and much more.

    Do You Feel is all over the map in terms of sounds and influences. How do you start writing songs?

    It's hard to explain. At least now with the upcoming stuff, I come up with ideas of what I want the music to be about. I write structures and melodies, and everything just comes out of me. It's weird how often what I write is what I'm supposed to say. Writing songs for me is a really spiritual thing. It's awesome being in the middle of a song and seeing it come to life. I take it all very personally.

    It's seems like it's extremely natural as well.

    Definitely, I've been doing it for so long that I know how to write a song. I always feel like it's coming from some other place. It's almost like I'm being guided.

    All of the different instruments that you utilize add a theatrical style. Do you have a theater background?

    Not really. When I was a little kid, I did some plays. I just love writing music that makes people feel the fire inside of me—or at least makes me feel that fire. A lot of times, it gets really dramatic and theatrical, definitely though.

    You're also telling stories as well.

    Every song that I've ever written, with the exception of maybe one or two songs, has been extremely autobiographical. I love telling stories through songs. A lot of my favorite artists have done that. So it's cool.

    That keeps listeners intrigued too, because you have something to say.

    Yeah, definitely, I love all sorts of music, from lighthearted indie and quirky pop to U2 and other big rock stuff like that. For me, at least in the past several years, I want to hear music where the artists have something to say, as opposed to just expressing vague feelings. It's cool, but there are a lot of issues in the world, and I think it's cool when people are making something out of them. That's what I tried to do with this record, and hopefully it's making some kind of impact. Whether it's about me, my life and my heart or some of the kids at these shows being affected in a positive way. That's really the backbone of Do You Feel.

    The album title fits that notion too, because you're getting people to embrace their emotions and explore them. That's important, because we live in a society that often shuns that.

    Yes, for sure. Unfortunately, it's too easy to put it all off. You see so many issues on TV and around you. We, as humans, have our own issues to deal with on a daily basis, whether they're really serious ones or really petty ones. Nonetheless, issues are always there. So it's easy to be like, "I have my own things to deal with, before I can deal with anything else." That's something that was laying on my heart when I made this record. I wanted to address that. Honestly, I'm not a saint of any kind, but this record is for myself as well, as anyone else, to draw inspiration from. This is definitely something I want to do with my life. I want to make difference. If you really want to be held accountable for something, make a record [laughs].

    Well, you definitely lay your emotions down forever on a CD. So you've really got to stick by what you're saying.

    Which is weird, because in some ways it's slightly unrealistic, since in life, you change so much. I write a lot on the spur of the moment. Thankfully, I try to take everything I write as something I will always believe in, because it will be there for as long as recorded music is around. So, I try really hard to write things that I'm willing to believe for years to come. At the same time, I keep learning and growing. The cool thing about having a long career is you can look back and see how you've changed. I put out my first CD when I was 16-years-old, and I'm 25 now. I'm absolutely a completely different person from when I started [laughs]. I'm just different.

    Well these songs are all you.

    That's a good way to put it! It's really me. I play every single part on the record. It came out of my soul. It's a lot to put out there. It's pretty easy to get to know me I guess.

    How do the songs translate live?

    I have a fantastic band with some of my best friends that I've grown up with. They've been with me for the touring cycle of this record. They're fantastic, and it's really cool. It comes off really well live. Not in any way wanting to sound pompous, but we have an amazing fan base too! It's weird. It's like a totally different element live than on the record. There are like 1000 people singing along, and everyone adds a little flare on stage to the songs.

    This is definitely something I want to do with my life. I want to make difference. If you really want to be held accountable for something, make a record.

    What's the scene like in Texas?

    It's changed a lot. When I was in high school, the scene was a lot different. Nowadays it's completely normal for 16-year-olds to get signed. When I was in high school, they were like 8-years-old [laughs]. From my own town alone, there's Forever the Sickest Kids and PlayRadioPlay! They're all really cool guys, and they're all doing great. It seems like the scene is doing really well in Texas right now. I'm not there to experience it, because I'm just always on tour though [laughs].

    —Rick Florino

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