Another week means another Badass Band for your aural pleasure! This time we venture over the to Eastside of LA for a silver nugget of a band who will get you shakin’ and hook you with their catchy choruses. Badass Band 95 is The Pocket Rockets!
I heard about The Pocket Rockets via another Badass Band, The Crazy Brave (Formerly The Space Race), as the guys previously worked together. I started to see their name around more and more so I decided it was finally time to take a listen. I pop on the Google machine and find TPR’s tunes. What did I hear? At first, I thought they sounded like the stereotype of what everyone who is not from California thinks a California band sounds like, basically surfy pop rock. It wasn’t a bad thing, that was just upon the first skim through. However, upon really diving into their self-titled EP, I found TPR to be quite eclectic, finding traces of shoegaze, punk, and classic rock n roll. Some tracks that really exemplify their variety:
1. “No Control”- This tune starts off mellow, almost shoegazy, with its drawn out vocals and lengthy guitar riffs, but then it packs the punch and picks up once they hit the chorus, “So come on, come on, the world is ours, nothing can stop us now. So come on, come on, no one can control us now. Oh, Oh, somethin’ takes you over, Oh, Oh, somethin’ you can’t explain.” Overall, the track is highly relatable, and insanely catchy both lyrically and rhythmically.
2. “Somewhere We Can Be Alone”- This classic surfy, rock n roll tune will grab you right off the bat with lyrics like, “It’s somethin’ you can’t deny, let’s leave the world behind, I’ve got what you want, and you’ve got what I need. Let’s go somewhere we can be alone. Somewhere you and only me can know.” This track not only sports shimmy-able rhythms, but vocals that make you feel like the gents of TPR are whispering this tune right into your ear.
The other three tunes on their EP will keep yours ears just as engaged, all of them seeming to be a nod in a different musical direction, yet keeping their signature danceable beats. So take a listen, and give TPR a chance to win you over. It won’t take much more than a track or two!
Aside from their tunes, I have to mention that this is another band I truly admire aside from their music because they are also expert fans, and are trying their best to create a community of bands that support each other via their label, DRecords. Chris, Ralph and Lyndon run this DIY Label and sponsor shows constantly to help bands meet and get out to the masses. Music is a community, not a competition my friends.
The gentlemen of TPR were kind enough to hang out with me and answer some questions, so read on to get to know the gents of TPR through their own words. Find out the family tie in the band, the innocent start to a name with a much darker meaning, and why they really admire anyone out there making music right now.
When and why did each of you start playing music?
Lyndon: I play guitar. I got started playing guitar after my mom had a roommate and he didn’t really have money or a job or anything. So he traded guitar lessons to stay. And he was only living with us for three months, but in that time he taught me major chords and stuff. And then that same month my mom gave me Nirvana Unplugged. So I got that and I thought it was amazing. Hearing that on the acoustic guitar, the work he did on that was great. Then I evolved into electric and the rest is history.
Ralph: I started out pretty early. I had an older brother that had some really cool music he showed me and then, maybe in the tenth grade started playing with him in a band. And the rest, well, that was it. After that, I was playing bass and I picked up guitar and every other instrument after that. But that was pretty much it. That was great. That’s all I do now.
Lyndon: That and bargain hunt and video hunt.
Chris: I play the drums. I think I just started playing the drums like any other drummer, hitting pots and pans and stuff when I was little. I didn’t get a real drum set until probably my sophomore year in high school. I saved up for one and I bought it. All my brothers played music or played in bands and stuff. So that kind of helped me get into it and they were just supportive about me playing music, so that’s why I played it.
How did all of you guys meet?
Lyndon: We all kind of came together, I guess, in high school and, well Chris is my uncle.
Chris: I met him at birth.
Lyndon: Yeah. When I was born I met him. Then like 19 years later I joined his band.
Ralph: Yeah, I was kind of jamming with Chris and two other guys and it was like, I don’t know. Just like our first band together, kind of offbeat kind of weird punk thing.
Lyndon: And I knew Ralph kind of just from the halls and seeing him around here. He had a giant afro back then. He was kind of hard to miss. So I saw him and I was like, “Hey, do you want to record us?” And he came over with a tape machine and recorded us and then we ended up ditching our bass player for him. That was my freshman year, they were probably in their sophomore year in high school and we kind of just stuck together. I mean we’ve been a band, been together since like ’04. We kind of lived through a lot. A lot of bands come and go and change names and reformat, but yeah.
Chris: It’s kind of cool because like growing up playing with both of them; we kind of know where, especially when we make music, we kind of know where each of us is going with it.
Lyndon: Yeah, especially like the writing process. We weren’t’ at each other’s neck about it. Just every part was a layer that fell perfectly on top of the last. I didn’t even hear his vocals until it came out.
Chris: Until the day before.
Lyndon: Yeah, the day before and it was great. Yeah, I’ve worked with him long enough that I knew he wasn’t going to do an awful job or anything and it was just, it was really easy, but a lot of hard work kind of leading up to it, a lot of crazy tape demos and cell phone recordings that didn’t really go anywhere.
Well on those same lines, how does your creative process typically work?
Chris: For this EP that just came out, the self-titled EP, it was more like, we had a certain direction for it. So we, I tried to base the tracks more off the rhythm of the base and the drums. But we have this like natural chemistry between all of us and we would kind of spend a lot of time just playing for hours. Like we’ll just jam on something for a couple of hours or something and record it and come back to it if we like it or not, and figure it out from there.
Why the name The Pocket Rockets?
Lyndon: We needed a name. Like when we first started we were just in such a rush like, we need a song, we need a name, etc.
Chris: Yeah, because even after our first practice people were trying to book us for the house parties and stuff-
Lyndon: But, yeah, the name kind of came out, it was like something I just kind of spit out. I had a little rocket sticker on my guitar, and it was Rocket Bolt. And I though maybe, you know, just a little figure of a rocket, it could fit in my pocket. Pocket Rocket, you know and it stuck and we’ve been at that so long, to change it now would be counterproductive. Maybe we could slim it down to an acronym, TPR or something. But we’re still happy with it.
Chris: At the same time we didn’t know what it meant. We had no clue.
Lyndon: It was a totally innocent thing to start.
Lyndon: It was my mom that told me actually. And I was like, no, what is it? And she was like, “Look it up, look it up.” And I did, at first I saw these little motorcycles. And then it got darker…
So you guys started in high school. So tell more about were you playing house parties and stuff mostly while you were still in high school? Were you playing at venues as well?
Lyndon: Back in high school it was all just backyard shows. And we were playing with some of the biggest punk bands in East LA.
Chris: In the first two years that’s all we played with was punk bands. And they would always put us on last because we weren’t punks.
Lyndon: So yeah. And then after we graduated high school we kind of ventured more into like bars and 18 and over, 21+ venues, and that’s when we just, we kind of just plateaued. You kind of just think, “These people are either too young to go to these shows or people don’t know us.” We had to restart all over again.
Ralph: And that was really the turning point for us. A lot of bands would stop or break up and move up. At that point we still tried to go do it and luckily meeting our friend Jon Siebels helped a lot. We kind of restarted after that and started doing house parties again.
What are some of your favorite venues that you play?
Ralph: We’ve seen so many come and go, but I personally really like The Smell a lot. When we got a gig there when I was like 17 or something like that and Jim was just awesome enough to pay us. He was the first person that ever paid us.
Lyndon: There used to be a super underground DIY venue called the Zamakibo. It was by General Hospital I think.
Chris: Yeah, it was right under it. It was cool. The owner, he used to put a lot of cool bands out, like punk bands. Yeah, that was a crazy venue. He used to have all the homeless protecting it from the cops. So if the cops would come by the homeless would block it off or create a distraction. It was crazy.
When people ask you what you sound like, what do you tell them?
Ralph: I don’t want to name bands and I don’t want to put the wrong impression out there. I meant to simplify it, like a new take on rock and roll. It’s like really groove-based rock and roll. Instead of being like hard rock.
Chris: I really have a hard time explaining what we sound like. Even like, we get reviews every now and then if we’re lucky. We have reviews and even they have a hard time describing us. “They’re a little bit this and some of that, a little of this, but they’re kind of like that.”
You guys just released an EP. What’s coming up next for you guys in the next few months?
Chris: I think right now we want to play a bunch of shows, as many shows as we can to promote it. I think after that we’re going to start writing more songs and hopefully to release a 12-inch vinyl. We were going to do this EP on a 7-inch. But the price was a little bit too much and at the time the EP didn’t even fit on the 7-inch so we were like, “Well let’s do a 12-inch.”
Ralph: I already started the writing process for the full length. So it’s going to be great because it’s going to be like, let’s just do an evolved version of this EP. The writing process is just growing so much lately. So it’s going to be great.
Lyndon: We’re also doing a series of videos as well for the four or five songs that are on it. That’ll be cool, kind of get it out there.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Chris: I think what I would want is to focus more on the actual artist, not so much in paying people to represent the artist. I mean that’s my biggest pet peeve I have about it. So that’s how we’re able to keep ourselves self-sustainable.
Ralph: There’s a lot, so many things. I think, pushing quality over quantity would be something. Pushing quality stuff instead of just shoving so much music in your face.
Lyndon: Well yeah, you have like a 10% success rate. So they can put out ten crappy artists for every one that succeeds. One good artist can sell and makes up for that whole awful year. I think what I’d want to change it would have to be like people’s conception of the music industry. It’s not like this thing you get into and make millions of dollars. A lot of people like don’t buy music. They go to shows. They think like, “Oh, the record labels, they’re giving them all the money they need.” It’s like no, you know what? I’m taking the bus here and I’m borrowing a guitar. I mean, you know, this is just an example. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of putting your personal time and money and effort in doing something that you don’t really have to be doing. My hat’s off to anybody that’s out there playing music right now because you don’t have to be doing this. You could be at home listening to it. You can be at home ignoring it, or just you know, whatever. Just ignore it. But to the guy that’s out there, to the woman that’s out there doing it, it’s amazing. You’re doing so much for practically nothing. And like there’s people’s conception, or even other people think like, “Well hey, I can go to this record label and then that’s it for me.
One song do you never get tired of listening to?
Chris: Me personally, this band called Autolux. I like a song called, “Capital Kind of Strain.” That’s my favorite.
Lyndon: I kind of get in these moods where I’m really into a song for like a couple of months. I think like right now, I’m really stuck on the Beach Boys “Feel Flow.”
Ralph: The Doors “The Crystal Ship.” I used to listen to it so much when I was a kid.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Lyndon: I saw The Strokes at Weenie Roast when I was younger and Slash came out and did a solo for “New York City Cop” and I was blown away, I was like what?! He was wireless and he was running around the stage!
Chris: I think mine is also the Strokes, but when we saw them at UCSD. Several years ago, they played like in the gym. Us three and all our girlfriends were in the front row. And Eagles of Death Metal opened up for them. People were crowd surfing. It was the first time I ever seen somebody crowd surf at a concert.
Ralph: Yeah, so I wear velvet jackets a lot. And that day like in pit, it just like went through like a million pieces. I think when I walked out I had like one sleeve.
Favorite things to do not musically related.
Lyndon: Not musically related. Just getting justice. Like I’ve been, I’m the guy that will complain. I mean I’m on the line; I’m like, “This and that!” I am in an ongoing fight with Paypal right now, they overcharged me $15.00. I would say working on guitars, but that’s music related. So when I’m not working on guitars, I’m on the phone.
Chris: Me, I like to draw. Many pictures of my dog. I like to draw my dog a lot. His name is Chamo. I do that and then watch Game of Thrones.
Ralph: And for me it has to be, be outdoors. I like to like physical stuff like hiking, going to the beach and stuff like that, just outdoors. I love it. I have this issue about being indoors. I need to be outside.
FIND THE POCKET ROCKETS HERE:
Fbk: facebook.com/TPROffical AND facebook.com/DRecords.official