The Rocket Summer
The Rocket Summer
The Classic Crime
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Hawthorne Theatre 503-233-7100
1507 Se 39th Ave, Portland, OR
7pm (doors open at 6:30pm). All Ages.
$14.00 advance tix from Cascade Tickets. bit.ly/IrkqqH
$16.00 at the door.
ABOUT The Rocket SUMMER--
Texas native Bryce Avary, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind The Rocket Summer, has accomplished enough for someone a lot older, as he prepares to release his second Island Records release (and… Show more fourth overall), Of Men and Angels, the follow-up his major label debut, 2007's Do You Feel.
Since launching his career as a 16-year-old with the independently released The Rocket Summer Ep, a name he took from a Ray Bradbury short story, Bryce has toured around the world, selling out venues not just in the U.S., but Canada, the U.K. and Japan, while playing such noted events as U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival, Scotland's T in the Park, Japan's Summer Sonic Festival, Austin City Limits, SXSW, Bamboozle, Cornerstone and the 2007 Vans Warped Tour.
"With this album, I wanted to strip away some of the expectations and goals even more so that have perhaps held me back in the past," he explains. "I still tried to write songs the whole world would want to sing along to, a beautiful and huge record. But I went into it with the attitude, I want to make an album of genuine and honest songs written from my heart and personal experiences that musically and lyrically would be better than anything I had done yet and above all would be an album that would hopefully, truly move and affect people. The whole pop success is like playing the lottery anyway. Of course it would be amazing, but for me it's all about focusing everything you have on making the greatest music you can without banking on any thing else. I'm grateful to be doing this and I want to do this for the right reasons."
For someone as spiritually motivated as Avary, that means he focuses on the struggles and victories of life's often-challenging journey in Of Men and Angels. There's the fervent post-emo power-pop punk riffs propelling "You Gotta Believe," the autobiographical tale of romance and surviving the bad times in the hint of a hip-hop groove in "Hills and Valleys" and the quiet-to-loud, mud-below-to-ground-above contrast of "Light," while "Nothing Matters" is a paean to altruism and selflessness, "Pull Myself Together" about accepting grace and allowing yourself to move on while learning from your mistakes and the moving, hymnal "Walls," an epic ballad on battling depression. And if his songs often tackle serious topics, Avary isn't above concocting something more tongue-in-cheek, like "Japanese Exchange Student," which compares his social life as an up-and-coming artist to that of a student's experience in a foreign land, and "I Need a Break (But I'd Rather Have a Breakthrough)," his own sly acknowledgement of the role of luck in pop success.
Avary produced the album with CJ Eriksson, who engineered Do You Feel, recording "21 or 22 finished tracks...almost two albums' worth" at Ocean in Los Angeles and in Austin, playing, as he did on his previous albums, all the instruments himself--tackling guitar, keys, bass and drums, which were the first thing he learned as a kid.
"I wanted this to be the best record I've ever made to date, so when people look back on it, they say, 'That's an album which really affected my soul.'"
In fact, The Rocket Summer has a way of getting Bryce Avary's fans to feel just that. His albums and live shows are all about positivity, optimism, seeking a higher power, overcoming our struggles.
"Yes, this is a very spiritually charged album," nods Bryce. "That's the biggest thing in my life and it's what keeps me going. That's the root of everything I do."
Of Men and Angels follows last October's release of the four-song You Gotta Believe Ep, which debuted at #1 on iTunes alternative chart and #5 overall. Three of the songs, including the title track, "Hills and Valleys" and "Light," were part of a "Complete Your Album" iTunes promotion, and are all included in the new release.
Musically, Avary is a one-man show--though he tours with several longtime friends--who has been compared to similar wizards and true stars like Brian Wilson, Prince or Todd Rundgren, although in an updated, anthemic punk-rock style.
"I don't intentionally set out to write radio hits, but I do want my songs to connect with the world," he says, "something that can ignite the airwaves."
"I'm happier than I've ever been about this album. Musically, I wanted it to be a little more organic, very little chopping on the drums, no autotune on the vocals, longer takes. I wanted the album to be real, but still sound slick. It just doesn't have that sterile feeling you get when things are chopped up and made computer-perfect."
There are a number of candidates for hit singles on Of Men and Angels, but wealth and fame aren't exactly the most important things on Bryce's mind.
"Walls," a song that deals directly with people's depression, shows how he uses his own experiences to comfort others going through similar situations. It helps explain the kind of viral following that turned last year's video for "Do You Feel" into an Internet phenomenon. With guest appearances by Paramore's Jeremy Davis and Josh Farro, Jack's Mannequin's Andrew McMahon, Forever the Sickest Kids' Jonathan Cook, All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth, MxPx's Mike Herrera, Hellogoodbye's Forrest Kline and Relient K's Matt Theissen, the clip led to the album version of the song being played more than 4 million times on The Rocket Summer's MySpace site.
"People start tearing up when they hear 'Walls,'" nods Bryce. "We're definitely aware the kind of connection we have with our fans. I just see that as God working through the music. And I'm just fortunate to be a part of it."
In the end, Avary uses that good fortune to help others. He performed the White House last summer in connection with his support of Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to rescuing youngsters who have been kidnapped and enlisted against their will into the Ugandan army. He has also started a clothing line, 'Call It Captivate" which donates 25% of sales to several different charities they have partnered with, from disease research and poverty aid to orphanages, leaving it up to the buyer to decide which one to the "Cic" Charities they would like to donate to.
"I like to support people who do good things," says Bryce. "I'd do this even if I weren't playing music. But I'm fortunate enough to stand in front of a microphone, so I might as well say something that helps."
"Save me/I need it/And I can't help/But feel desperate/My desires they seem/Are coming to their endings... But I will trust/It's not the end/But a great beginning." "Light"
"When there's opposition, and you know what you're doing is good, maybe it's because something bigger is actually happening," says Bryce. "You just have to hold on a little tighter, trust that things will get better. But I'm definitely not quitting."
Of Men and Angels is not the sound of someone giving up, but rather The Rocket Summer making one huge step for band-kind.
"I like the term 'young veteran,'" says Avary. "But at the same time, I don't want people to think this album is not fresh. I'd be a liar if I didn't say it would be nice to have the radio and TV thing happening. I'd love to expand this, play bigger venues and reach more people. But we already have this loyal, hardcore following and I couldn't be more grateful for this. And I keep pushing myself forward, trying to make a great album, trying to put on the best live performance I can."
With Of Men and Angels, Bryce Avary shows The Rocket Summer is ready for take-off... The sky's the limit.
ABOUT The Classic CRIME--
It is and forever will be the defining moment for those few, elite bands who excel in their freshman campaigns. And though reference to the "sophomore slump" is a clich̩' that is all-too-familiar in rock n' roll circles, it is a term that nonetheless accurately describes the pivotal nature of the sonic sequel.
Because the second album will write a band's destiny, forever, in stone.
Most will crumble under the pressure, and prove that only a select few become memorable, only the special will do something that will etch themselves forever into the hearts of many...and The Classic Crime would not have it any other way.
Enter The Silver Cord, what many are calling one of the most complete rock albums released in recent history. If you are at all familiar with 2006's Albatross, you know that The Classic Crime has no trouble writing rock anthems with chorus lines that would make even the most critical ear scream, chant, and sing in sheer obedience to the sound. In fact, Albatross was, according to the band, a collection of singles written for rock radio. While most offer a couple catchy melodies, The CC gave us an entire album's worth on their first go-round. So how could they possibly push their lofty mark to a higher apex? By delivering depth, diversity, and dynamics along with accessibility.
"This is the most thematic thing we have ever done," comments vocalist Matt MacDonald. "The Silver Cord is a metaphor from literary history dating back to the Torah and the Old Testament. There are also numerous stories of people who have had out of body experiences on hospital beds who have seen The Silver Cord. After being proclaimed dead and then coming back to life, many have made reference to a small tinsel-like silver thread which connects their mortal bodies to their immortal souls. The idea is that when the cord is severed, you pass on. It's impossible to think about this cord without realizing how fragile life truly is. Every song on this album follows that theme in some way. And while there are songs on the new record that could have easily been on Albatross, we wanted more of a contrast from song to song. This is the three-dimensional version of ourselves...an album that you can dig into and listen to again and again."
Doubters will be silenced in seconds. A dramatic swell of tragic emotion echoes from MacDonald's soul, introducing the ride that is to come on the opener, "The End." The track begins with just vocals and guitar, and words cannot express the desperation that seeps from the opening lines. As the second track kicks in, an evolution into inviting melody and dissonant energy leaves you feeling filled with life yet unsettled at the same time. And herein lies the overwhelming strength of the LP itself: it is the Classic Crime at their most balanced, yet most disconnected. There are very heavy moments, where screamed vocals meets shrieking riffage, along with equally great moments of pop clarity. And though song structures are primarily straightforward, the band shows obvious growth in musicianship and instrumentation. The ebb and flow musically is matched by equal dynamic in emotion; whereas Albatross was an uplifting experience on the whole, their sophomore effort contains more balanced emotion. There is both dark and light here. This is, most definitely, a step forward for the band in every single way.
"Overall the record is more mortal...Albatross was more hopeful and optimistic, while The Silver Cord is more realistic about the realities of life and death. I think that just happened because it was a product of the fact that we have lived through two years of doing this and we have faced reality...the struggles, the difficulties on the road, the harsh time we face in music today. When you are forced to face these things you are stretched in every way."
Once again the band employed the services of Producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette (Incubus, Story of the Year, Chevelle) on this endeavor, and once again he has succeeded in delivering a sound that is raw, enigmatic, yet contemporary in its punch. It is to be noted that the band took extra pains to "record as they would have fifteen years ago," according to the members of The CC themselves. This is a record without the vocal tuning, quantizing, or sampling of today's rock records. It is completely performed by the band as they would play it live, many times in single takes during the recording process. This is an album by a group of individuals who each carries their own weight in terms of input, performance, and ability. Plainly put, The Classic Crime have delivered an album by a band, not a computer-generated product by a fashion club.
MacDonald's words will cut straight to the heart, piercing bone and marrow, with clever candor and poignant commentary. "Abracadavers," a song inspired by the "Bodies Exhibit" which travels the world showing what physically lies beneath each of our skin, confronts the mortality that each of us face: We're all the same, made of hair and bones and water and blood cells. And we're all to blame, for spending way too much time on ourselves. "God and Drugs," a self-revealing take on the emptiness of addictive substance, speaks of how such potions so poorly emulate true happiness: It's a constant reminder of what I can and cannot have. The smell the taste its all just fake the truth is what I lack. So I will keep on running and keep my head above the ground, and I will look for you in places you cannot be found. And on the album's opener, "Just a Man," The CC confronts the pride that each of us possesses, reminding us that there are no ultimate answers in humankind alone: I know that my faults bring me down, it's a constant battle. That's why I have to be honest with you now. I'm not your saint, I'm not your savior.
Though subtly spiritual in theme and approach, the band has a very healthy view on the interplay of belief and artistry, and one which MacDonald has no trouble articulating: "Bob Dylan is a Jew who came to believe that Jesus Christ was the messiah...and since then he has fought the label of 'Christian artist' whole heartedly. He's been quoted saying, 'People want to label you so they can limit your accessibility.' That's why we refuse to have labels of any sort...either with genre or religion, because we want to be accessible to everybody. We feel like we can do more good to more people by remaining objective in our perception."
After scanning over 40,000 copies of their debut and honing their live show to machinelike precision, The CC are poised to make another run across the nation and beyond, setting their sights on hundreds and hundreds of shows in the months to come. They have joined forces with everyone from Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Mest, MxPx, Emery, and Anberlin. They were featured on Warped tour 2006 and will be joining 2008's installment as well. While some struggle to capture the magic of their recordings live, suffice it to say that this band is only at their most potent and accurate in the show atmosphere. This is a legitimate unit that will prove their mettle in the chapter that is to come.
Yet with all their dedication to music for music's sake, The Classic Crime are surprisingly dedicated to a greater, practical purpose as the end-all-be-all of their band's existence. It is with these higher goals in mind that they push onward into this next era.
"We want to reach as many people as possible and we want to help people," states MacDonald. "I think music is powerful and people can find emotional therapy in it. We want to make music that is meaningful, that people can relate to. Also, we hope to generate enough of a career so we can go to third world countries and try to serve people in need on physical level. I think we are put on this earth to serve something other than just ourselves."
ABOUT Joe BROOKS--
Starting out as a 16 year-old guitarist recording music in his bedroom, Joe Brooks went on to become an online sensation. After selling out two Uk tours on his own, Joe made a video for his first single, "Superman" which received over 7.3 million plays on Youtube. Called "The Next John Mayer" by Seventeen/CosmoGirl Magazine and enjoying synchs on shows such as Grey's Anatomy, - Joe's star is clearly on the rise.
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1507 SE 39th Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
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