Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award-nominated author based out of Juneau, Alaska.
The Rocket Summer: "Sweet Shivers"
Bryace Avary can do it all. The Rocket Summer's "mastermind" (according to Billboard) multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter, and performer, Bryce Avary is set to release their seventh album on August 2nd, 2019 that is as rocking and lush as any album created by a full band.
The Rocket Summer was birthed in 1999 in the heart of Texas. And, twenty years later, they remain as relevant (if not more so) as they've ever been.
The forthcoming album, Sweet Shivers, was broadcast together with a pre-order campaign, which included exclusive limited items ranging from vinyl test pressings, handwritten lyrics and instruments used on the recording, many of which sold out within hours of launch. Sweet Shivers was created between dual locations: a rural Texan cabin and Los Angeles, California, which brought a wide perspective that is infused through the album. This assortment of songs invites listeners to try on a new lens. The album is Avary’s first since 2016’s critically-acclaimed Zoetic, which was praised by New Noise Magazine as “undoubtedly the Rocket Summer’s best release,” and marks another bold step onward in the Rocket Summer's aural progression.
Learn more about the album in this revealing interview, and be sure to check out the record when it drops on August 2nd.
An Interview With Bryce Avary
Justin W Price: Can you give my readers a little background on the Rocket Summer?
Bryce Avery: I picked up a friends guitar and sat at a drum kit when I was around 12/13 and became fixated on music and writing. Three years later, I recorded the first RS EP of songs I had started writing in my bedroom. I played everything on the EP, which further lead me down a path of producing (I was unaware that it would become the rest of my life up until this point)... It’s quite surreal to think about when I do because to me it’s just the beginning with the songs and ideas being born right now, and I certainly feel like a totally different person from when it all started as I’m sure anyone would. But, it’s been an incredible journey so far. The fan community of the Rocket Summer is a blessing and to me is the overarching, bottomline takeaway of anything related to the music. They are a beautiful collection of souls that connect through the music and lift each other up.
JWP: The Rocket Summer is a solo project, but who is in your touring group?
BA: I’ve been able to play with a lot of incredible musicians over the years. Currently, we are three-piece live [with] Teddy Ramirez on drums and Tyler James on guitar. I jump around on keys, drums, guitars, and bass. It can sometimes be hard for me to sit still when there’s so much potential music to be made.
JWP: Where will you be touring for the Sweet Shivers and when do you hit the road?
BA: Currently, our North American Tour begins Sep 10 and ends Oct 19. We’re talking about hopefully bringing the tour international, which we have done every record up until now, so hopefully, we can stay on that same path! I’m really hoping to make it to South America, as that is a place we have never toured.
JWP: How do you feel about "Sweet Shivers"? How is it different from other recordings you’ve made… and in what ways is it similar to your past work?
BA: To me, it’s a deeply emotional album, whereas [on] my previous record I viewed my guitar more as a machine gun. It’s a very intricate and highly layered album sonically. Mostly, all the production consists of organic instrumentation… real drums, guitars, synths, no pitch correction on vocals, etc. I wanted the album to sound as human as possible, while still being explosive to match the lyrics.
"Blankets" by the Rocket Summer
"While many artists are seemingly struggling to stay either relevant or vibrant, Avary has seemingly figured it out... Armed with melodic sensibilities, polymath talent (Avary plays everything on the impending album) and a personal ambition to seek out new sonic outcomes, Avary has consistently engaged his die-hard fans and accessed new listeners."
— Alternative Press
JWP: How often does the Rocket Summer perform?
BA: We tour every year! I live for the spirit in the room at our shows.
JWP: Where do you see the Rocket Summer over the next decade?
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BA: I’m always making music and feel I’m in the most prolific place of my life, thus far (I feel uncomfortable using that word describing myself as it phonetically sounds pompous in a way—I just don’t know what other word means “writing a lot,” haha). Whether or not the music will always be under the name TRS is sometimes in my mind as some of the songs I write now just sound so different than the past. And, I always chase the songs no matter where they go as a mantra. So it’s hard to know exactly what TRS specifically will look like a decade from now, but I know I will be making and releasing music.
JWP: What are some of your musical and lyrical inspirations? Does the Rocket Summer have a specific message or underlying theme in their lyrics?
BA: Music is bigger than any of us and can help us in our darkest places. I generally think about then when writing.
JWP: Does being from DFW affect your sound or lyrical themes?
BA: Texas definitely is deeply in my DNA. But, more so, from a place of driving through fields and open plains, listening to CDs from bands I would escape in that were from different parts of the world. [This] made me love TX even more, being in those environments listening to the Cure, Radiohead, and Peter Gabriel. Pantera lived across town, so that inspired my guitar playing as a kid, perhaps.
JWP: What is the songwriting process like for the Rocket Summer? Is there a primary songwriter or is it a collaborative effort?
BA: I love collaborating. But basically, all of the songs that have come out have been written from a deeply personal place, entirely alone.
JWP: Tell me about your experience with Invisible Children. How did you get involved with them and why is that organization important to you?
BA: It has been about a decade since I’ve been involved or have heard about what they are currently doing, but I loved their heart when they were trying and I wanted to support them, so I had the privilege of playing an event of theirs outside of the White House that Kirsten Bell, Anthony Green were also involved with.
"Do You Feel" by the Rocket Summer
JWP: I loved Double Dare when I was a kid. Rumor has it, you were a contestant on that show. Tell me about that!
BA: Ah. I was a child, maybe 8 or 9 or so, and walked past someone auditioning for the show, so I did a rap I made up and they put me on. My family beat the other team and we did not answer a single question right. I ran into Marc Summers at a restaurant a couple of years ago and we had a nice catching up of sorts. He did not remember me.
JWP: Which dance move are you the most skilled at?
BA: Dancing is my love language. I have lots of moves.
JWP: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
BA: In certain instances, sure why not.
JWP: What would your final meal be, if you were on death row?
BA: A curry of sorts, I suppose.
JWP: What are your hobbies, outside of music?
BA: My dog is my best friend and I like to take her on hikes and to the beach to play fetch.
JWP: Why should people devote their time to listening to your music and going to your shows? What makes you guys different and special?
BA: I don’t view music as competition. Feel free to listen or not listen to my music, but if you do, I hope it brings you good vibes!
JWP: Do you have any advice to young musicians out there about how to handle yourself in the industry?
BA: Just be cool, I suppose! Other than that, be original and authentic in your music, above all.
JWP: What is your favorite food?
BA: Mexican or Thai food. Can’t pick a fave here! But, spicy is generally on brand with my taste buds.
JWP: Where can folks purchase your music and keep up to date on upcoming shows and events?
JWP: Is there anything else you would like to add?
BA: Thanks for the love and I hope you have a beautiful day.
© 2019 Justin W Price