What are your names?
Tom (vocals), Stijn (guitar), Jos (bass), Fred (synths) and Bastiaan (drums)
What is the band name?
How did you come up with your band name?
It just popped up somehow.
What is your genre of music?
Give us a little bio about you as a band and as individuals.
The Rocket has been around since 2008 or 2009, when Tom and our original synth player Geoff wanted to create a punk rock musical called The Incredible Ninja Attack. They wrote some songs and came up with silly stage outfits, but didn’t get much further than that. The outfits and the catchy songs remained and The Rocket was born.
Individually, there’s always been a lot of music in our lives. Tom has been in a punk rock band called Gino’s Eyeball with our former synth player Geoff for what seems like 100 years or so, and Stijn’s band Second Base also used to be a household name in European punk rock in the early 2000’s.
Fred, our synth player, was guitarist for Second Base in the last few years of the band and our bass player Jos has been a metal guitarist since he was 11. Our drummer Bastiaan also drums in a prog metal band called ATMOSPHERES and in The Lighthouse, a pop band that’s making quite a name for themselves in Belgium at the moment.
How did you meet each other?
Tom, Stijn and Jos were part of the original line-up, having met at shows in Belgium. When The Rocket entered (and won) a contest where they had to form a media team around the band, Fred joined as a copywriter. He later joined Stijn’s band Second Base and then stepped in as synth player for The Rocket. In the meantime, Bastiaan had already auditioned to be The Rocket’s new drummer.
You have your single out now ‘Chain Reaction’, tell us more about it.
Chain Reaction was built on an idea by our former synth player Geoff, and then went through multiple incarnations before achieving its final form. We experimented a lot with the synths on this one, and giving it a layered feel without getting too weird. You can interpret the lyrics any way you like, but they’re basically about a relationship gone wrong. It’s not necessarily about a romantic relationship, there are plenty of friendships and family bonds that go through rough patches of their own.
What was the writing process like?
It’s always very organic with us, the writing just happens. For Chain Reaction we had Geoff’s idea to build on, but mostly it’s Tom or Stijn who bring a riff, a lyric or even a whole song to the table. Then we almost immediately record a demo and work from there. We change the structure, add parts and remove parts until we’re happy. Then we move on to the next song and revisit the previous one later, when we can listen again with a fresh ear.
What was recording process like?
For the new album we had the luxury of doing almost everything in our home studio. Before recording, we had our producer work his magic on our demo’s and talked about how we wanted everything to sound. We prepared everything as much as we could, so we wouldn’t have to waste time debating this or that choice during the recording process. And it worked, we had a pretty smooth process and we’re very happy with the result.
Who did you work with on the single?
For this single and the new album, we worked with Marc McClusky. He’s a New York based producer who’s worked with the likes of Motion City Soundtrack, Weezer and Bad Religion. Needless to say we learned a lot from him. He really provided the outside look we needed and helped us get out of our comfort zone.
What is the message your trying to tell your fans / listeners.
Here’s a song, we hope you like it! And if you do, please tell everyone about it!
Will we see a EP or Album this year? If so what can we expect from it?
Yes, Chain Reaction is the first single of our third album which will be released in April. You can expect a pop punk album with a lot of diversity throughout the songs, and a contrast between upbeat melodies and sad lyrics.
We think we stepped things up a notch compared to our previous releases and we’re very anxious to hear what people think of it!
Who are your influences?
We listen to a lot of different artists in different genres, but most influences for the music we write will be pop punk related. Blink-182 has always been a big inspiration for most of us, as are a lot of West Coast pop punk bands. And there’s Motion City Soundtrack of course, the prime example of synth infused pop punk.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
There’s nothing like hearing a great song to get your own creative juices flowing. It’s like how watching a great game of soccer, basketball or any other sport makes you want to get out there and play yourself.
And life itself provides enough inspiration for lyrics to fill about a hundred more albums. No matter who you are, there’s always something going on in your life or the life of someone you love.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Hopefully still playing music, with about four more albums under our belt!
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Well, we go to work or school of course. Aside from that, some of us run a label called Thanks But No Thanks Records. Jos is into sports and alpaca’s and we like computer games whenever we find the time. But we spend most of our free time doing something that involves music anyway.
If you could collaborate with one UK Artists or Band who would it be?
Paul McCartney! We’re very much into melodies and harmonies and I’m sure he could teach us a thing or two about that.
If you could collaborate with one US Artists or Band who would it be?
We’d love to have Mark Hoppus work on a song or album with us. Blink-182 has always been a part of our lives and we’re a fan of everything he has produced. If someone can get us in touch with his manager, please do. And then of course Motion City Soundtrack have been great role models for The Rocket as a band.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
I don’t think there’s a specific song for any of us. I think musicality is something that’s simply a part of you, but maybe there’s a song or an album that hits you at the exact right time to ignite the spark. I (synth player Fred) always enjoyed listening to The Beatles and Billy Joel in my parents’ car, as much as I enjoyed discovering Smash by The Offspring, Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World or Enema of the State by blink-182. I think they’re all bricks in the wall that makes up my musicality.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
For me personally, it was a book. Yes Man by Danny Wallace, which was later turned into an awful movie with Jim Carrey and the wonderful Zooey Deschanel. In short, the book is based on one year in the life of Danny Wallace, in which he chose to say ‘yes’ to everything that came his way.
Before that experiment, he was the kind of guy that would decline a night out with his friends because he’d rather stay at home to watch tv by himself. The kind of thing I would do as well. By saying ‘yes’ to everything, his life turned into a rollercoaster. I found that saying ‘yes’ when your initial reply would be ‘no’ can really help change your life for the better. As much as I hate marketing slogans, sometimes the best thing is to ‘just do it’.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Write and play! That’s the only way to get better and to get heard. Write often and write a lot. Finish a bad song and then move on to the next song until you strike gold. Don’t release everything you write, but give every song a second chance. If a song sucks but it has a catchy chorus or a killer riff, throw away all the rest and build a new song around the good parts.
Don’t be afraid to suck live, but build experience as fast as you can. Your live performances will improve every time you play and you will learn a lot. Performing live is a lot different from playing in your rehearsal room, and nothing can prepare you for playing live like doing it often.