Itâ€™s a pretty beginning of a fall afternoon when I meet up with Bryce Avery, better known as The Rocket Summer at a park in Los Angeles. After about 10 minutes of trying and failing to locate each other in the park, we finally managed to find our way. We caught up quickly after our last meeting at this summerâ€™s APMAs, and then took a nice hike up the trailsâ€”me in heels, and him in a leather jacketâ€”to help photographer Erica Lauren get the perfect pictures before coming back down to talk about his â€œnot really a comebackâ€ comeback.
The Rocket Summerâ€™s career started in 1999 when Bryce recorded his first self-titled project; The Rocket Summer released in 2000. These sixteen years of experience in the music industry are full of accomplishments for Bryce, with #1 album on iTunes, Of Men and Angels, and scene staple album Do You Feel, Bryceâ€™s career as The Rocket Summer has become his lifeâ€™s journey. â€œFor me thereâ€™s just no other way to do it, thereâ€™s just no plan B. Iâ€™ve certainly been through the highs and the lows. What else would I do?â€ he reflects. Itâ€™s not a process of second guessing about what comes next for him. â€œI have to make a recordâ€¦ If thereâ€™s any longevity I think maybe itâ€™s just, it feels authentic every time.â€ In the moment, Bryce seems joyful about knowing that heâ€™s never done anything that could be taken as â€œselling outâ€ because his music is an extension of his person. â€œI just love playing music, itâ€™s such a blessing to get to do it, and have anyone who cares.â€
He quickly jumps into crediting his fans with a huge part of his continued success, even back to the days of MySpace. â€œI sound like every other band like â€˜our fans are everything, we do it for our fansâ€™ but itâ€™s true. Social media allowed that immediate connection with fans, which at that time was extremely helpful.â€ Heâ€™s cracking up as he tells me he hasnâ€™t thought about â€œthe MySpace daysâ€ in a long time, only adding to the constant push-forward mentality he has toward his music. â€œIt is interesting to have gone from like all you had to do is to write a blog, and have your music, and play shows. Now itâ€™s likeâ€¦ I have to post something everyday or Iâ€™m not relevant.â€ While Bryceâ€™s quieter nature stays, his words speak loudly.
â€œIt got hard, I mean there were definitely days where I was like â€˜what am I doing?'”
In total, Bryce wrote over 100 songs for the album and fully produced 50. While most people would think this was a zealous thing for him to doâ€”and they would be correctâ€”Bryce was dedicated to making this record. He wanted a break from the business side of music to be immersed in creating again. Having produced, written, and recorded the entire thing alone in a studio this process was not only therapeutic, but it was a learning experience for Bryce. â€œIt got hard, I mean there were definitely days where I was like â€˜what am I doing?â€™ and â€˜weâ€™re not releasing those 50 songs, weâ€™re releasing a normal album.â€™â€ Heâ€™s quick to say the dedication to the album leaves him with a lot of material for the future as well. â€œI have this multitude of other songs that I donâ€™t know what to do with. Iâ€™ve always said that if I, like, die tragically or something Iâ€™ll be like Tupac and continually [be] releasing these songs and people [will] be like â€˜how did that even happen?â€™â€ he chuckles.
The first single off the album, released last week, is titled â€œSame Air.â€ â€œItâ€™s one of the most Rocket Summery songs I guess you could say.â€ He tells me itâ€™s about overcoming the bitterness you can constantly feel when thinking about the world and then having that brief moment of clarity when you know it will all be okay. Immediately, he reveals the chorus to me quietly, as if itâ€™s a secret that heâ€™s excited to share. â€œEveryone and everything, every soul and every being the same air we all are breathing, one shared pulse collectively beating.â€
â€œIâ€™ve never seen so many beautiful stars in my life. So my wife and I laid down on the concrete, and just stared at the sky and took in how beautiful it was. At that moment I realized what you want isnâ€™t always what you need.â€
While the single already proves to be strong, the hopeful theme on the album is furthered in a song about The Marfa Lights. â€œWhen we were coming out here we went to Marfa, Texas to see these Marfa lights.â€ The Marfa Lights are a withstanding phenomenon in the town where people claim to see these orbs of varying colors, also called Ghost Lights. Bryce and his wife stopped on their move to see what all the fuss was about. â€œYou couldnâ€™t see them. We were sitting there waiting and waiting.â€ With a red light and cars flashing in the distance, and having to insist that they were indeed cars to people who believed they were something more, Bryce looked up. â€œIâ€™ve never seen so many beautiful stars in my life. So my wife and I laid down on the concrete, and just stared at the sky and took in how beautiful it was. At that moment I realized what you want isnâ€™t always what you need.â€ That moment inspired a song, whose titleâ€”much like the albumâ€™sâ€”is yet to be released, but set Bryceâ€™s theme of finding a new way of thinking on the album.
His process is refreshing to me as a long time Rocket Summer fan. Bryce is pushing his limits and boundaries in surprising ways, and itâ€™s just in time for his comeback tour. â€œItâ€™s gonna be wild, walking on stage. Itâ€™s so weird. In rockâ€™nâ€™roll years, I might as well have announced a hiatus.â€ Itâ€™s been two years since The Rocket Summerâ€™s last full out tour, and his fans are nothing short of impatient when it comes to seeing him again. I ask if performing the old songs ever gets boring, and heâ€™s quick to say no. â€œWhen we were rehearsing the other day playing them, I was actually like â€˜oh this actually feels really good.â€™ Iâ€™m really excited to play the new stuff obviously, but Iâ€™m not gonna turn my back on that [older stuff]. Itâ€™s a part of who I am too.â€
When talking about Bryceâ€™s older material, itâ€™s hard to resist asking about the infamous â€œDo You Feelâ€ music video. In 2008, the video captured all of my favorite band members, and was my most watched YouTube video, like ever. I couldnâ€™t resist asking how it came together. Reminiscing on bringing people like Gabe Saporta, Alex Gaskarth, Jonathan Cook, Andrew McMahon, Mike Herrera, Forrest Kline, Jeremy Davis, Josh Farro, Cash Colligan, and Ian Crawford together, Bryce tells me how Sonny Moore aka Skrillex was supposed to be in the video. â€œIt was so funny because I was having to pay for it myselfâ€¦ It was gonna cost like $150 in gas to get the film guy to meet with him to film him, and at the last minute we just like realized we didnâ€™t have money so we weâ€™re like â€˜Sorry Sonny, for $150 weâ€™re cutting you from the video.â€™â€ He chortles, telling me that theyâ€™ve managed to maintain a good relationship, and are still friends to this day.
Missing the scene and his fans is what ultimately led to the decision to embark on the pre-album release west coast tour. While this tour itself is about seeing his fans again, saying hey, and catching up I learn that, in theory, Bryce would also love to do Warped again. Being one of the hardest tours out there, itâ€™s a brave move. His first set in a long time took place last week at Warped UK, and when I ask who his new ideal touring buddies would be, the answer made my inner fangirl leap with joy. â€œI love the Twenty One Pilots guys,â€ he gushes. â€œWe met them at one of our shows at one of our last tours and they were really niceâ€¦. Itâ€™s crazy to watch them blow up.â€
â€œItâ€™s like being a part of something rather than just being a fan of a dude. Iâ€™ve always really liked that about it…â€
Watching other people blow up, and knowing who he is, has kept Bryce grounded. Many a time the argument of changing his name from The Rocket Summer to just Bryce Avary has been brought up. â€œI like the legacyâ€¦ I like the idea of people feeling a part of it rather than â€˜this is all about that guy.â€™â€ The Rocket Summer is a band name that resonates with hope, and itâ€™s legacy stands far beyond what I think Bryce himself sees. â€œItâ€™s like being a part of something rather than just being a fan of a dude. Iâ€™ve always really liked that about it, sometimes I donâ€™t like explaining it,â€ he jokes.
Throughout his time floating in and out of our scene, The Rocket Summer has withstood sixteen years of changes in the music industry, friendships, social media, and all around growth. This life is all Bryce knows, and if it doesnâ€™t work outâ€¦he likes dogs. Although the dog training could be promising, Iâ€™m not so sure it would be Bryceâ€™s happy place. â€œI make music because I have to,â€ he says, â€œitâ€™s what I do.â€