Interview with Nick Santino of A Rocket To The Moon: Time To Blast Off

Musical talent? Check. Tattoos? Check. Perfectly coifed ‘do’s made to look like bed head? Check. Swoon-worthiness? Double check. A Rocket To The Moon seems to have all the requirements to make them Fueled By Ramen’s new moneymaker for 2009.

It began in 2006 when founder Nick Santino bunkered himself in his bedroom and began the solo experiment known as A Rocket To The Moon. Accompanied only by his guitar, computer, and a tender voice that provides the candy coating to ARTTM’s power pop center, Santino spent countless hours uploading song after song on MySpace. And it paid off.

By 2008, ARTTM had gained a legion of Generation OMG fans through the site, began touring, and released several albums, including Your Best Idea and the Summer 07 EP. With the help of some stand-in band mates, ARTTM played their first major festival at The Bamboozle, followed by an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live to perform the single “Dakota.” ARRTM’s sound eventually sparked the interest of execs at the Fueled By Ramen record label, which signed ARTTM in August 2008 and released Rocket’s Greetings From… EP shortly after.

Santino traded in his solo status by adding three full-time band members to ARTTM: Guitarist Justin Richards, bassist Eric Halvorsen, and drummer Andrew Cook. The band is currently on tour to promote their debut full-length album, On Your Side, which was released on Oct. 13.

Santino took some time out from his tour from “some random place in Texas” to speak to The Aquarian Weekly about covering Taylor Swift, closet Beatle fans, and the troubles in going mainstream.

The first thing I notice about On Your Side is that every track on the album is basically a love song of some sort, whether it’s about heartbreak or longing or desire. Why is this? Was this the concept of the album or just the musical direction it took?

It was just an easy subject to write about. You could just play the best songs about that stuff. The songs just kind of came out. But I guess what you feel is what you write.

There also seems to be a good girl versus bad girl vibe throughout the album, with the main characters being the, shall I say, sleazy Annabelle as compared to Dakota. Do these lyrical characters come from personal experiences?

They could mean anything for anybody. We really didn’t personally know anybody named Annabelle or Dakota. We thought the names were pretty fitting. But, I mean, they just kind of go to speak for anybody that has actually dealt with somebody like that and could relate to either person.

Matt Squire, who has worked with such artists as Katy Perry and The Used, produced On Your Side. He is known as a very hands-on producer. What was it like working with him and how did Squire contribute to the album creatively?

He’s such an awesome producer. He would sort of ask you stuff. But, you had what I’d say and you had what he’d say, and we kind of met in the middle with everything and compromised on a lot. You know, stuff that we really wanted and stuff that we thought would make the record. So, we’re real easy to work with and we came out with something we all really, really liked.

How’s the reaction been so far with the album?

For the most part it’s been pretty good. We haven’t really gotten any negative feedback. So hopefully it stays that way.

You guys are currently on tour with Cobra Starship and Boys Like Girls. Those two bands have a different sound as compared to ARTTM. So how’s the response been with people who haven’t heard ARTTM before?

You can definitely tell the kids that have heard of your band and then the kids that are there for the first time. But, I mean, for the most part, they seem pretty energetic and excited to be there. And excited to see everybody whether they know the bands or not. They’re in a fun environment and there to have a good time. You see fans that maybe never even heard of your band jumping around and moving their mouths to the lyrics, or making up their lyrics or whatever.