Playing With Sound: An Interview with The Rocket Summer

As an artist, Bryce Avery got his start young. He began his musical venture as a teenager in Fort Worth, Texas, writing songs on a cheap guitar that he received for his birthday, eventually compiling a collection that would make up his first EP. Soon after he adopted the moniker The Rocket Summer, launching an ongoing 17-year career with an accomplished discography to match.

One of the most notable facts about Avery is how much control he has over his music. Although on tour he is joined by a backing band, when it comes to the recording process he performs every instrument himself as well as taking on the role as producer. For Zoetic, The Rocket Summer’s sixth full-length album, he built a studio in his new Los Angeles home where he perfected the record over the course of two years. While the new material still fits into the indie-pop genre, he explored sound in ways he never had before. The experimental synths and bolder mixes at times can be reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails (see the disc’s opener, “Cold War”).

“I’m just always trying to learn,” Avery said during a phone call before the LP’s release while preparing for a cross-country tour. “I have to keep learning and trying new things for me to keep doing what I have to be doing, which is to make art at the highest level I can.”

What are you most excited about for hitting the road?

Oh my gosh, just seeing the fans. After so many years of touring they’re basically like family. So now I can recognize a lot of people in the crowd. I’m just looking forward to the reunions, plus just going back to playing live. I’ve been holed up in the studio for quite some time and performing live is really vital to me, to be able to see these songs that I’ve worked so hard on come to life. So I’m looking forward to all of it—all of the above.

Which new songs off Zoetic are you most excited to play live?

I’m going over that right now. It’ll be really interesting to see when the album comes out. Plus we’ll have a few days to prepare before we hit the road, but I’m curious what fans will want to hear. If it was up to me, I would play all of it, but can’t overdo it. It’s funny though, because you spend so much time making a record and I’ve been pretty far removed from my past songs for quite some time, yet I have to remind myself that this is the only stuff that people know since the album isn’t out yet. We kind of have to ease into it. We’ll probably play like six or seven songs from the new record, but I’m looking forward to whatever the songs are.

What’s the biggest difference between 2012’s Life Will Write The Words and Zoetic?

They are pretty drastically different. I would have to revisit that album to really know exactly why but just off the top of my head it’s incredibly different. With this record I just allowed myself to try things that I haven’t really tried in the past. I really just dove into new sounds and tried new ways of doing things, and that came out in the record. It is pretty unique and it has its own sound. I think the most immediate difference is that it is a lot more aggressive and there is a lot more electricity in the spirit of the album. It’s a little more chaotic and explosive as opposed to Life Will Write The Words.

I wanted to discuss your relocation to Los Angeles for the making of new record. What sparked this?

Every time I make a record I like to try to get out of town because it puts me in the mindset that I’m on a mission. This time it was different because I knew I would spend more time on this record, so I figured I should take my stuff with me (laughs). It’s still hard for me to say that I live in Los Angeles even though I’ve been here for two years. This is actually the longest I’ve ever been in one place without touring since high school, so this is the first time in many years that I’ve felt some sort of normalcy of being in one place, but at the same time Texas is my home. I’ve made a couple records out here. I just always sort of head west. There is something magical about driving through the desert and going out by the ocean where there is just a lot of inspiration and so much musical history [in California]. I’m just really, really inspired by my surroundings.

Do you think the album would have turned out differently had you chosen another location?

I haven’t really thought too much about that. I think just being in a place where there are so many musicians kind of made it all normal (laughs). If I had been in the suburbs for this long, I probably would have lost it. There is something about being out here that made the whole process feel normal. Again, I was just making a record in a town where people make records a lot more, not to say that I couldn’t do that in Dallas. There is a lot of great music coming out of Dallas. But it’s always been a thing for me that I like to get out of town for a minute, but this one was just considerably longer (laughs).

What was your writing and creative process like behind this record?

It was heavily influenced by actual sonic structure. That’s what had gotten me into music in the first place as a kid. I think this record is more interesting when it comes to the actual sonic landscapes of it all. A lot of songs are just products of me messing with drum machines or playing the guitar using distortion pedals and seeing what happened. I saw Zoetic as a way to express myself differently than I had in the past. I wanted to push myself as an artist to use different creative tools, like using a few different colors to paint a picture. I’ve been using the same kind of colors for some time. I wasn’t making the same record over and over, but I was using the same tools.

What are your plans for after the headlining tour?

If it were up to me, we would be playing shows every single night. My dream would be to have a studio inside of a bus and I would live on the road and be playing shows every night.

That sounds amazing.

(Laughs) That is what I would do! But I don’t know. We’re trying to figure it all out now. We are talking about doing some other touring and maybe doing some international stuff. I’m really excited though, I’m looking forward to the album being out and just playing these songs. Ultimately, I already have the urge to start creating new stuff so that’s something that I would like to do sooner this go around, or at least not have such a large break in between. Which to me, that wasn’t a break by any means but there has been some time in between albums so I would like to shorten that (laughs).


The Rocket Summer will be performing on March 26 at The Marlin Room at Webster Hall. For me information, head over to