Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Rocket! This SoCal rock group draws on a wide array of legends when creating their high-energy ‘rock your face off’ sound. Check out our exclusive Q&A with the band to see how they create, their big changes for 2017 (4, to 3, to 5 members!), and how they got started (potential Craigslist spoiler alert ahead)!
1) Tell us about how the band got started?
Eric Wibbelsmann (guitar), Paul DePatie (drums), and Bill Luna (bass) were previously in a Los Angeles band called The Pills who had lost their lead singer. They placed an ad on Craigslist listing influence bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Jane’s Addiction, which attracted Janelle Barreto (lead vocals) who responded. After rounds and rounds of meeting and auditioning singers, of all walks of life (and it’s Los Angeles, so believe me there are some crazy stories here for another time), they offered Janelle the job. From there ROCKET was born…or rather launched!
2) What inspiration(s) do you draw on when you create music?
Favorite bands and favorite songs is a big one. We love and have grown up on bands like Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, U2, Foo Fighters, Greenday, Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Temple Of The Dog, Guns N’ Roses, plus those previously mentioned in the classified ad, so when we talk parts and music, often was will say things like, “I hear this part to be like Slash,” or “think like Taylor Hawkins on this drum part.” It’s crazy then how we all know exactly what we’re going for when expressed to in this way. From there, we draw from life experiences, visual descriptions that evoke emotions, and pop culture for concepts, themes and lyrics.
2). What was the music scene like for you growing up in SoCal?
It was amazing, bursting and such a great scene to be a kid. We’re a Southern California-based band, so bands like No Doubt, Sublime, Lit, The Vandals, Social Distortion, Offspring, The Flys and Save Ferris were on the scene and on the rise. And then KROQ was the biggest commercial radio station here in SoCal filling the air-waves with everything awesome. First as we were growing up it was bands like The Cult, The Cure, The Clash, David Bowie, Sioxusee and the Banchees, and Blondie, and then it progressed into Nirvana, Soundgarden, STP, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Greenday and Alanis Morissette. At the same time MTV had just started, and blew our minds wide open. SoCal was the best musically to grow up in for so much inspiration and planting the seeds for dreams.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
Easy…Soundgarden (sigh – still not over it, and probably will never be).
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
Janelle: Sweet Child O’ Mine by GNR
Eric: One U2
Paul: Originally Zippity Doo Da, but due to embarrassment, it’s now The Freshmen by The Verve Pipe
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
To know that this is a business as well as an art, and that it’s not for the faint of heart. That your craft takes discipline, so you have to be outstanding at your craft as a player, songwriter and performer; and then you have to be a smart and tenacious business person. You have to learn the business of music, in all its many facets, know that it’s always changing, and make contacts. Most important is your headspace and attitude. It’s a tough business, and there are way quicker ways to get rich. Just as there are a lot of cool, amazing people, there are also a ton of weirdos, liars, shape-shifters, bull-shitters, judges, critics, haters, so if you succumb to the negativity it can stop you from fulfilling your dream. So stay positive, love what you do, press forward, and believe!
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
The weirdos, liars, shape-shifters, bull-shitters, judges, critics, and haters – oh wait did I say that all ready? Just kidding. The music industry has turned into an Indie game. So no longer are the days of artist development. Now artists are left to do all of the initial building, marketing, promotion, touring, sales, album releases for so many years, before the industry is willing to step in to partner or assist. The artist takes all the risk and does all the market-testing before the industry is willing to lift a finger. So this means lots of time, sweat, money, dedication and work for today’s indie artists. You are basically building a business from the ground up, and doing every job at a record label yourself. In Canada, there is a program where the government gives funding to assist artists to help grow their careers. (Say what?! Can you say Nickleback?) So a shift here in the support of artists in their career development would be a breath of fresh air.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
Social media without a doubt! Gone are the days where you had to solely rely on the printing and handing out flyers, or posters. All of the social media platforms have revolutionized the way artists can promote themselves, their music, their shows, and get the word out. But do not be fooled! It is also a ton of work. Now there’s metrics, algorithms, Facebook ads, new and numerous platforms, your “numbers,” “Likes,” and engagement, are all of a sudden super important (sometimes it feels like even more than the music) when all you wanted to do was shred on your electric guitar.
9) Tell us about your latest single Giants and the inspiration behind it?
It’s about how we feel about our fans and our connection with them. It’s about that high-energy electric exchange we have with our fans when we play live. It’s also about our band and how we feel about each other. It’s about the energy that comes from our camaraderie, teamwork and accomplishments; and the like-mindedness that we share in knowing where we are headed. Then in general, it’s about believing in a dream and working towards that dream no matter what, and how amazing it feels in the knowing that you can overcome and do anything. It’s about anything that makes you feel like a giant and brings you closer to the stars.
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks or EP/in the studio now etc.)?
We actually had to slow down a bit this year to afford a change in line-up. We have been a four-piece for over four years, but our bass player had to depart. So instead of just finding a new stellar bass player, we were also blessed enough to find an awesome 2nd guitar player. So we can’t wait to “re-launch” (get it?) ROCKET as a 5-piece. We are super excited and elated at our new, big, shiny sound, and can’t wait to share it with everyone, especially our fans. More on this soon! We are also preparing for the release of a brand new EP entitled GET HUGE. Giants will be the first single off this EP to go to radio, so a new music video is on the horizon for this song as well. We just booked a big show at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday January 20, 2018. Anyone who wants more information can visit our website or follow our Facebook page (See? Here we go with the social media…)
Listen to Giants and download it on iTunes today!