The Rocket was found in 2009, but your career started developing very quickly eight years later when you released your song "Chain Reaction". Can you tell us something more about the beginning of the group and its first years?
Sure thing! The band actually started as a side project for (our singer) Tom and (our former synth player) Geoff. They used to be in another punk rock band called Gino's Eyeball, but they wanted to try something more… theatrical. So they started writing songs for a - I'm not joking - punk rock musical titled "The Incredible Ninja Attack". The logistics of that whole thing proved to be a bit much, so the idea was scrapped but the guys kept playing and writing and (long story short) The Rocket was born. Some band members (like myself) where added, and pretty soon after forming we recorded a first, self-titled album in a small but great studio called The Penthouse.
As things usually do in the punk rock circuit, the ball started rolling from that point on. We quickly developed a reputation as a cool, energetic costume party band and thus landed a bunch of really cool shows in the BeNeLux.
Over the course of those first years, we experienced some line-up changes (all of which were amicable), but the core songwriters always stayed in the band. That provided a much needed basis of consistency; we even got away with changing singers for the last album we did before our break. Hans Roofthooft (singer for F.O.D.) did an album with us called "Not Everyone Grows Up To Be An Astronaut", which in turn landed us a spot at Groezrock, some national airplay in Belgium, and stuff like that.
About four years ago, after yet another exhausting line-up change, we decided to put the band on hold as for the first time, we felt we lost a bit of our "essence". Luckily the break we took rekindled the fire and then some. And now here we are!
"Chain Reaction" is a song about ending up a relationship and putting the blame on each other. When did you come up with the idea of writing this song? Is it based on your life experience?
The better part of Chain Reaction was written by Geoff, the founding synth player of the band who hasn't been playing with us for a long time but who's always been a great supporter. I think all of our albums so far had at least one song written by him. So anyway, he provided the basis of the lyrics on which we built - the song's true meaning might have been lost on us too and I think that might be one of the things that makes the song stand out - some sort of general resonance in the lyrics.
That being said, "Chain Reaction" could very well not be a love song at all. I know it wouldn't be the first song we wrote that has a way deeper layer once you actually start reading the lyrics.
Your favourite artists and musical inspirations are rock bands Motion City Soundtrack and Weezer, as well as top pop stars Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. How do you combine these two different genres? Is it difficult?
It all boils down to the fact that we like good music. And good music can be found in any genre. Though our love for punk rock unites us we have a few metalheads in the band, and a few pop lovers. We never try to mimic a style of music based on the artists we like, but basically we want to make great pop songs that have an edge to them, a soul so to speak.
From a more technical point of view, we strongly believe that any song should work with one or two acoustic guitars, and a voice or two. If the core of a track doesn't keep up in that setting, it's simply not a good track to our ears (electronic music or death metal withstanding). Also, punk rock and straight up pop have way more in common than one might think: similar arrangements, structures, often even instruments (though they're used differently), vocal patterns and harmonies… it’s all a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together in this or that style.
In 2013 you had an opportunity to perform on Groezrock, Europe's biggest punk rock festival. What are your memories from this amazing event? How did people react to your music?
I remember it being really, really cold in the morning. And I remember standing on the empty stage with a hot coffee (we were up first so arrived before the doors opened) thinking "fuck yeah". But seriously though, it was amazing. We had the honour of playing the main stage, so the tent and stage itself were really big. And to our own amazement, the place was pretty packed by the time we actually struck our first chords. From that point on it's all a big haze for me personally, as I tend to get "in the zone" on stage.
I guess that apart from being musicians, you also have other hobbies and favourite activities. How do you spend your free time, when you are not working in the studio or playing gigs?
Music takes up a big part of our free time (and it's actually my job too) because we take it seriously. A lot of time goes into rehearsing and writing songs. We took a break from writing while we were recording the album, but ever since we've been back at it.
Some of us also run an independent label, Thanks But No Thanks Records. So I guess when we're not doing something that involves music, we're not in our free time. Or we're watching "Rick & Morty".
Jos is into a bunch of sports too, and Bastiaan plays in three different bands (in vastly different genres, one of them being quite big in Belgium) so he doesn't have that much free time left in the first place.
We love the lives we're leading though. Music is a luxury for so many people - there's so many kids paying money for tickets to go see bands play, paying money to buy or stream albums, and all that. We're just so happy to be on the other side of that, to be in a position where we can send our creativity into the world. If that takes up some of our time, so be it because we can't think of a better way to be spending our time.
"Chain Reaction" is the first single from your upcoming album which is scheduled to be released in April 2018. What can we expect from this record - more songs like "Chain Reaction" or something completely different as well? Are there any plans for a European tour?
There's going to be about 12 songs on the album, ranging from fast punk rock to Weezer-eque powerpop, but all with an undeniable Rocket sound. We'll be releasing two more tracks over the next few months so I guess those will provide some insights in the sound of the album. I know we can't wait for people's reactions, as "Chain Reaction" received such a warm reception.
As far as touring goes: there's a lot in the works. We have about 10 shows planned in Belgium alone over the next few months, and we’ll be heading out with F.O.D. this spring and fall for a tour package called Paper Planes Tour 2018. We plan to get started on some shows down south (France and Spain, to be precise) later this year too. Ample plans, but for now we're focusing on finishing up the album!
If you want to learn more about The Rocket, please visit their official website: