Bryce Avary, better known as The Rocket Summer, is back with a revamped sound in the form of his brand new album, Zoetic. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to talk to Bryce before the release of the album and get the inside scoop on what inspired it.
Bryce Avary: It’s pretty good. I just, uh, like ten minutes ago was standing in line, or not even in line. I was standing right next to Steve Perry from freakin’ Journey. I, uh, was at this music shop and I just bought this computer from this guy. I was having it looked at because it was acting up. I was like, “Wow, freakin’ ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’” I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t about to be like, “Yo, dude, thanks for the tunes.” So, yeah, that happened, like, ten minutes ago.
B: That is incredible.
BA: (laughs) The most recent thing that I can say happened in my life.
B: Usually when I ask that question it’s a pretty simple answer. That just blew my mind. So, you know, Steve Perry. Wow. That’s incredible.
BA: Steve Perry. I was like, “Dude is that…it’s freakin’ Steve Perry.” I almost said something and then I was like, “Nah.”
B: Bryce Avary and Steve Perry together. (laughs)
BA: You got it. I was almost like, “Man I should have taken a selfie with the dude and just hashtagged it: You gotta believe.”
B: (laughs) There you go. That would have been so awesome. So awesome. Well, I don’t know If we can top that now.
B: Now, tell us a little bit – I know you’ve probably been asked this question a millions times, but since you’re new to Lemonade, you grew up in Texas if I’m not right, correct?
BA: Yeah, Texas. Dallas-Fort worth, born and raised. Yeah. Love it.
B: I was saying that obviously the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a country music state. What was the climate like for you, in the sense of music, growing up there?
BA: You know, country music is definitely in my blood. But, I gotta say that Dallas had an incredible – I mean, I think it still does – but it certainly had an incredible music scene, I mean, when I was, like, just a fan as a kid, I mean, there’s a lot of rock ‘n’ roll there. Dallas bands like Centro-Matic, Tripping Daisy, Hagfish, and Toadies, like, there was a lot of good stuff that was happening in the ‘90s, and, you know, that turned into…there’s a lot of great freakin’… I mean….Annie Clark is from Dallas…..
BA: …Or, for a while. (laughs)
BA: There’s a lot of great artists out there. There’s a great producer named John Congleton in Dallas. He’s made a lot of great records. It’s really an amazing place. I’m actually not there right now. I’m in Los Angeles, but Dallas is still my home, I just kind of… A little while ago… (sighs) this sounds so ridiculous, but, um, it sounds very hippie-like, but I wanted to be near the ocean and kind of near, like, canyons and a bunch of people that were just chasing their art. I don’t know why. I just felt like it would inspire the music in a way that it hadn’t in the past, so right now I’m in Los Angeles. But, Dallas is always home.
B: I totally get that. I’ve grown up on the west coast here in Seattle. Well, near Seattle. I think I want to say, five or six years ago I believe I saw you on Warped Tour, so you spent a lot of time doing those kind of tours and such. What does that do for an artist? There are so many different bands in similar genres. What is that like for somebody like you?
BA: You know, Warped Tour is a really amazing festival, touring festival, that, I mean, I remember the very first Warped Tour I ever went to. It was nuts. It was, like, really diverse. Jimmy Eat World was on it. Eminem was on it. Blink-182. Suicidal Tendencies. I remember seeing all these bands within a few hours and it was a really, really trippy thing. (laughs). You know, when we were on it, it was cool to get to be a part of it. We always sort of felt like, a little bit like we didn’t totally fit the mold of that world, yet it’s kind of how The Rocket Summer’s always been.
BA: We’ve done tours with punk bands and hardcore bands, and then we’ve gone on tour with The Goo Goo Dolls, you know what I’m saying? (laughs)
B: Yeah. (laughs)
BA: In fact, that was funny, the last time we did Warped it was like, we went out with One Republic and The Goo Goo Dolls and then we just immediately went out to Warped and it was just super different, all of it, but it all felt normal. And just recently we went and did the Warped show in London. They have it going on there, but it’s just a one-day festival. It was a really cool thing to get to be a part of, I mean certainly a different. We kind of felt like we stuck out like a sore thumb, but it was really cool to get to be a part of it. What Kevin Lyman has done is awesome. We love Kevin. We’re just really grateful that we’ve been able to be a part of that. For me it’s just trying to play out as much and across as many audiences as possible. I never really ever wanted what I do to be kind of classified into one thing. But, you know, I’m grateful to get to be a part of that festival.
B: So, tell us a little bit about the latest album. It’s called Zoetic. I hope I pronounced that right. You mentioned that “it’s the most alive music that you’ve ever made”. Tell us a little about that.
BA: The record, it’s crazy, yeah it’s called Zoetic. You pronounced that right. That word just feels really perfect for the album. It’s an actual word. If you look it up, it means “alive or a word of or relating to life”. So it’s a really proper name for this album because it really is the most alive record I’ve ever made. I think I sort of allowed some sides of me to come out on the album that I maybe haven’t in the past. It’s got a little more aggression, a little more electricity in the heart of all of it, but I don’t know, man, it just feels like it was really freeing to make the record. I just can’t wait for people to hear it and hopefully they’ll be into it. This record…in a way I kind of made it, I just followed the songs as they came out. There was no, like, “Oh, is this The Rocket Summer enough?” Even down to, like, how people were going to receive it, I didn’t think about that at all. It’s just purely for my own artistic expression, and like I said, we recorded so many songs that what I ended up compiling for this first release is kind of a more, sort of bombastic, really rockin’ record.
B: I was gonna say, besides maybe with the exception of “You are, You Are,” the whole album is, like, nonstop. It just keeps on just hitting hard. It’s a really, really energetic album.
BA: This is nuts. You’re the first person that I’ve talked to that’s heard any of it, I guess. That’s like seriously, I had no idea that you’d heard it. That’s so nuts. (laughs)
B: (laughs) Yeah.
BA: So to have you say that title back to me is like, “Whoa!”
B: It’s different for you guys, or for you especially, which is cool to hear. But it is a very hard hitting and high energy. How is that going to translate, do you think, into if you guys go on tour?
BA: Yeah, I think we’re kind of figuring all that out, you know. I made the whole record sort of in my own studio by myself and there’s a lot going on. And there’s a lot of things I hadn’t done before. I did a lot of, like, drum sampling and tons of layering. It’s probably the most nuance record I’d ever made. And, I’m kind of gonna have to really delve into how we’re pulling this off live. But, I’m excited about it.
B: You were recently on tour though, did you play any of the songs that are on this album on tour as kind of like a test or were you kind of saving that?
BA: Yeah, we played the first single that’s out called “Same Air” and then we played a song called “UNI” (u-n-i). I also played a song called “Help Me Out,” so yeah, it was really cool to play the songs live and just see people’s reactions, especially to “UNI” because it was kind of the first glimpse into it.
B: I love all of those tracks as well. I also enjoyed “FL, CA.” Tell me a little about that song.
BA: Florida, California. Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, that was the song that we even wondered if that should be, like, an earlier record, because we have a feeling that might potentially be a fan favorite. That song, I wrote that song about…it was kind of like a brutally honest song about watching a friend’s relationship just go south, uh, which we kind of went through that on multiple occasions, just in my personal life. Friends of mine just sort of…not knowing…I don’t know. It was kind of just like a, how do I put it? It was my own way of sort of getting out my own frustrations about seeing my friends get hurt when you kind of knew that was gonna happen from the get-go. So yeah, that’s what that song’s about.
B: Like I said, it’s one of my favorite tracks off the album. And I feel very privileged, by the way, to now understand that I’m one of the few that’s gotten to hear this.
BA: You’re definitely the first person I’ve talked to about it, that’s for sure.
B: Well, cool. Of course when this comes out it’ll be after 2016 has started. But, what’s been your favorite part of 2015 so far?
BA: 2015. What’s been my favorite part? That’s a really good question. Maybe just hanging out with Steve Perry before this.
B: (laughs) Right? We can’t top that.
BA: No, I think, we did this tour a few weeks ago. We called it the “Returning West Tour.” It was the first tour in a while, and there was just something really magical about every night for the most part. It was just really life giving for me just seeing the fans again. I don’t know, it felt special. It’s always felt special, but there was just something about it that felt unlike any tour I’ve done. I don’t know if it was because I was away for a while or what, but it just felt real. Like, “Wow, this is real.” This, like, makes The Rocket Summer, our fans, like this family vibe just felt real. Because of that there’s just a really special vibe in the room, like, everybody singing everywhere, I don’t know. It’s just a really good thing to come back to that and to realize that’s there after being in a home studio by myself for, like, a year and kind of suffering from out of sight, out of mind thinking “Does anybody even care?” You know, that kind of thing. To come out to that was certainly my favorite part of the whole year. I’m really fortunate. Music is kind of everything to me. It’s just what I’m going to do no matter what.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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