Interview by Lili-Anh Le Minh
About two months ago, A Rocket To The Moon were in Montreal to open for the All-American Rejects on their “Kids in the Street” tour and I had the chance to sit down with the band for a nice chat. This was their first “real” time here because the only other time they were here was for Warped Tour 2009. I wasn’t there that year but everyone who was probably remember how that day went; downpour all day long. Even they remembered it vividly and told me how they were scared all their gear would get wet, how it was just dripping everywhere and how hectic it was. They were glad to be back for a real show this time around.
Formed in 2006 as frontman Nick Santino’sproject, A Rocket To The Moon became a band in 2008 when Eric Halvorsen and Justin Richards joined in and soon, they were signed to Fueled By Ramen. In 2009, they released their debut full-length album “On Your Side” and that was about the time Andrew Cook joined to complete the band. Since then, the guys have been touring endlessly and just a few months ago, they recorded their second album to be released this summer, which they are really excited about. We also discussed their work with Mark Bright and they even managed to throw in a little talk about Nicholas Sparks!
CONFRONT: To start this off, were you fans of The All-American Rejects before?
JUSTIN: Yeah we’ve been fans for a while. It’s crazy to hear that they’ve been around for ten years and that we’ve been listening to them for ten years. Halvo longer!
ERIC: One of my best friends was somehow tied to Tyson through his cousin so we had their first record way, way back in day.
CONFRONT: Ohh! Connections!
CONFRONT: And throughout all these years, how does it feel to play with people that you admire?
ANDREW: It’s great!
JUSTIN: It’s a good feeling. It’s nice to be able to watch music because we enjoy watching music, especially watching bands that we like every night. It makes us feel like we didn’t waste our time dropping out of school.
CONFRONT: Did you guys have a plan B?
CONFRONT: Good thing it worked out then right?
JUSTIN: We’re going to make it work!
CONFRONT: And actually, a few months ago, you guys were all over the place, how was that experience?
ERIC: It was awesome! It’s kind of crazy that we have the opportunity to go overseas and play for all these kids. I never thought I’d ever get to go to the Philippines or Australia or Brazil or anything like that. Just being able to do that while being with your best friends and playing music is great!
ANDREW: Couldn’t ask for anything more!
CONFRONT: That’s great though! And let’s talk about your next album. It’s supposed to come out this summer, right?
JUSTIN: No release date yet, but yeah.
CONFRONT: And each time anyone asked you, you weren’t sure of the title of the album yet, but I will take a chance anyway and ask you: has it been finalized?
ANDREW: We’ve known the title for a while actually.
NICK: We’re good liars.
JUSTIN: Yeah we’re not allowed to release it yet.
ANDREW: When the time is right, we’ll put it out there.
JUSTIN: You’ll be the first to know!
CONFRONT: This interview won’t be out for at least a few weeks so…
NICK: The title probably won’t be out for another few months!
CONFRONT: Aw ok! Your last full-length was released in 2009 though and since then, you guys have grown as a band and as people so how does that reflecton the album?
ANDREW: I think we have a more mature sound. And there are more real-life issues dealt with in the lyrics, less fictional stuff because everyone’s been through a lot of real-life stuff since then. It just reflects everyone growing up individually and together. The way we’ve played together has changed so I think we’re more of a tightknit group. It’s the first time I recorded a full-length record with them so it’s a new thing.
NICK: We’ve had three years to practice too so I think we’ve gotten better at our own thing. I feel like I got better at singing than on the first record.
JUSTIN: It’s really exciting and we can’t wait for people to hear it! We’re proud of it.
CONFRONT: I think your fans are also pretty excited too! And how did you guys end up working with Mark Bright?
NICK: It kind of just worked out for us. We were looking for somebody kind of outside the box for us and without knowing it, Mark was looking for a band that was a little bit outside of his element, because he does a lot of country. Johnny our A&R guy heard it from John, the owner of Fueled By Ramen because he heard it from someone at Atlantic that this dude Mark heard a demo that we did with our friend Stephen from a band called Love and Theft. So he heard one of the songs we did a demo for and Mark contacted someone at Atlantic and that person contacted John and told him Mark was really interested. Justin and I ended up going to dinner with him and we hung out for the entire night not really talking about anything but music and everything.
JUSTIN: Just hanging out, he was the coolest guy.
NICK: Yeah it was one of those good feelings. It has only been like that three times for me personally. The first time I met Fueled By Ramen, I knew right away that was my label and that we wanted to go to that label. The second time was when we met our management that we’re with right now. We knew right away that’s who we wanted. The third time was with Mark where we really hit it off. Those are just feelings you can’t really turn down.
CONFRONT: You guys seem to be pretty lucky though.
JUSTIN: Yeah we really are. A lot of bands are stuck in a label that they don’t like or with booking agents and managers that they don’t like but we have a family and it’s awesome. We’re really blessed to have them.
CONFRONT: That’s awesome! And I read that Mark had a few of instruments lying around that you weren’t necessarily familiar with and that you experimented with them; what sounds did that incorporate into the album?
NICK: Justin got to play a lot of quirky little things like octave mandolin and stuff like that, some different keyboards…
ERIC: A lot of rainsticks and earthy sounds.
NICK: Andrew played an Advil bottle!
ANDREW: That was the shaker I used for most of the shaker parts.
JUSTIN: It actually went really well! We had some of Mark’s pros who usually work with Carrie Underwood and all those huge people.
CONFRONT: And actually, Mark being a country producer and you guys all being country music fans, can you hear a big influence of that in the new album?
JUSTIN: I think so, yeah. You know it’s there. It’s not overwhelming but you can hear it.
NICK: And Mark knew off the bat that we weren’t a country band so he knew we wanted to make a good rock and roll, kind of pop record. I think he had to go not as country as he’s used to, which was why he wanted to do a band like us and the same reason why we wanted to go with a guy like him. So we kind of met in the middle.
CONFRONT: And I also read that you guys like to do storytelling songs, does that reflect throughout the whole album? Is there a kind of continuity?
JUSTIN: There’s no one theme we go with but every song definitely has its own story.
NICK: And they’re definitely all one of kind. I don’t think there are two songs that are the same on the record.
JUSTIN: We’re just playing our songs and putting them on YouTube videos of movie trailers. There was a “Notebook” one.
NICK: Cheesy girly chick flicks! We play our songs and we’re like “This song would be perfect for that movie!”
ANDREW: So Nicholas Sparks, if you’re reading this, we’ve got a song for every book you’ve ever written!
JUSTIN: That would be awesome!
CONFRONT: And have you thought of your first single yet?
NICK: Yeah we have one that we’re pretty confident in. We’re just starting to get mixes and stuff back now. And we’re playing a new song called “Going Out”; it’s not our first single but it’s the first song we’re releasing off the new record.
CONFRONT: And how has the response been to that?
JUSTIN: Good! Some people are singing along and not even knowing the words so that’s good! People are dancing and having a good time on it so it’s comforting.
CONFRONT: How do you sing along if you don’t know the words?
ERIC: They probably YouTube it before!
CONFRONT: Oh that’s true. So technically, they do know the words!
JUSTIN: It’s great to see that and to see them have a good time to a brand new song though.
CONFRONT: It means they’re fans of your new sound right? And is that the only new track?
ANDREW: Yeah just that one!
CONFRONT: Ok that’s cool! And you are part of the new generation of bands who went through with the internet taking over and all that. Do you think the internet had a big impact in your rise in popularity?
ANDREW: Especially internationally. It’s the only way to explain how you can go to a country for the first time and play for 4000 people where our record isn’t even for sale! The only way to get it is online so it’s apretty crazy thing.
NICK: But it’s kind of scary sometimes because there are things that you don’t want people to know about you and they find a way to figure it out.
ANDREW: Musicians can’t really be as debaucherous as they used to be because it’s all out there. If you’re going to be a shitty person, people are going to know about it. It’s fine for people like us because we’re all a bunch of regular dudes so we’re not running around trying to cover things up. But some bands, people do dumb stuff or they can advantage of people and everybody knows about it.
CONFRONT: And then they end up possibly getting hated for it.
ANDREW: Yeah exactly. You got to be a good person, really!
CONFRONT: Well that’s a good thing! Now, I’m going to ask you my last question, which is to draw something that represents you.
ANDREW: I drew a cat on a skateboard. I grew up skateboarding. This is my go-to move when people ask me to draw something!
JUSTIN: Music and sleeping!
ANDREW: That’s what he does!
NICK: It’s a “Stussy S” for Santino, it’s my family.
ANDREW: It’s his family crest!
NICK: I used to draw these all the time when I was in 5th grade.
CONFRONT: I used to draw those when I was a kid too!
ERIC: I’m a really good athlete. I drew a baseball, hockey stick and puck. And a soccer ball, I’m really good at soccer.
NICK: You’re really bad at drawing soccer balls though.
CONFRONT: Thanks for your drawings, is there anything else you’d like to add?
JUSTIN: Our record should be coming out this summer so look out for it! We’ll be touring a lot.
NICK: Hopefully we’ll be back soon.
CONFRONT: Yeah don’t wait another three years!
To check out some of their music and to see what they’re up to, visit these sites:
Official website: http://www.arockettothemoon.net/