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RS interview with Rich and Rob - Edgefest July 1st
by: Jason Rakowsky
I got to sit down with Rich and Rob of Rocket Science in Robs car (whoo! It was cold out), and do an interview with both of them. My friends Michelle and Nathalie were with me for the interview in the back seat warming up from the cold.
Rob opened the car doors for my friends, me and Rich to sit in: ďYou can go in the driver seat. Your driving this interviewĒ, said a kick ass Rob.
So, I did.
Jason - Who are the members of rocket science?
Rich - Thereís Rob Higgins on Bass and Vocals, myself on Guitar and Vocals, Gord on Guitar and Dan on Drums
Jason - Why the band name Rocket Science? Any significance to that?
Rich - I think itís a name that we came up with years ago that indicated the direction we wanted to go musically. We wanted to be a little bit experimental and heavy at the same time, so we wanted to come up with a cotemporary name that kinda reflected that.
Jason - When did Rocket Science form and How? Because you were one of the forming members.
Rich - ya, it was about 3 to 3 Ĺ years ago, I think. Rob called me and asked do wanna start jamming and to put together a band. So in Toronto, we started practising in Robís basement.
Jason - *laughs* thatí where it all starts.
Rich - *laughs* ya, in the basement. At the time we were jamming with Damon Richardson.
Jason - Do you remember the first show you played? And where was it?
Rich - The first shows we played, we managed to land residency at Tedís Wrecking Yard, which means we get to play there every week for four weeks. Damon was sick at the time, so we had to cancel the first two weeks of shows there. We ended up doing four weeks, but pushed the whole thing back cause Damon was sick, but I remember anticipating playing, and was very excited. Just to get up there and finally show people what weíve been working on.
Jason - Any embarrassing stuff happen to you guys during touring?
Rich - Well those first shows were really rough. All kinds of problems. First shows were all really rough.
Jason - technical, or mental?
Rich - ya technical, like one time, Damon was triggering samples with [oct.]? pads, and they would go off at any given moment. Basically *laughs* it was the wrong thing, and you couldnít stop it. So it would just keep going through what you were playing, and that was embarrassing.
Jason - How have the shows been going generally? It seems like youíve been getting big turnouts.
Rich - ya, its getting better and better. More crowds. I feel like itís a personal achievement with a band that keeps getting better and better, especially with the new members. Dan Cornelius on drums and Gord Reilly on guitar. Those guys have the been the best of friends for a long time, which makes it really easy for all of us to get along, because rob and I are friends, and their good friends for a long time, so itís a really good chemistry between all of us. They are great musicians. It just keeps getting better and better. Their great guys and great musicians.
Jason - Are there any bands you guys would like to, or have toured with that are great?
Rich - Well one of my personal favourite bands is No Means No, and we did a gig with them at Leeís Palace that was really fun. It was a whole ďpinch meĒ episode. It was great.
Jason - What were some older bands you guys were in?
Rich - Rob and I were in a band called Klinghoffer in Vancouver. This was Pre Change of Heart. Rob was in Change of Heart, after we were in Klinghoffer. Before that, Rob and I have been playing together since we were 15 in high school in the basement ....
*Rob comes to the car window to ask for his keys*
Rich - You should make it say, sorry to interrupt, can I get a kiss?
*Me and Rich laugh*
Jason - So, Klinghoffer and....
Rich - Klinghoffer and no notable band names.
Jason - Alright, Whatís the best way to describe your music? Because some people say Punk, some people say Grundge, some people say Emo, some people say Rock and I say a New type of Rock. What do you say?
Rich - It is a new type of rock, but as always we draw influences from our favourite bands. Going back to classic rock and going right through to progressive rock. Itís hard to *pause* weíre definitely working more towards an edge now. The first five song demos [EP] we had, ended up turning out really slick. Not a very good indication of what kind of band we were live at all.
Jason - But you still play Control.
Rich - Yes, yes that is true.
Jason - Do you wanna just give the set so people wondering know?
Rich - The songs were, starting with Losing an Edge, then Ganglion, then Control, then Everybody Wins, and then Everything and Nothing.
Jason - Dedicated to me. [Rob dedicated Everything and Nothing to me..whoo!]
*Me and Rich laugh*
Rich - Exactly.
Jason - so we were saying, best way to describe the music. EP was slick and not very good in...?
Rich - reflecting us as a live band.
Jason - Itís very different. It really is.
Rich - Exactly. Weíve done some recording lately that reflects us more, and our interests.
Jason - As far as recording goes, does guitar or lyrics come first, or how does that work?
Rich - Usually it starts out with the rhythm tracks somewhere. We have a number of places we have where we record things. Rob has a Pro Tools studio at home at his apartment. Sometimes we pay to go into the studio to do something but generally itís the rhythm section first, drums and bass, vocal or guitar idea first, and then you just layer things around it.
Jason - Do you guys use anything other than standard tuning on guitar?
Rich - I know Gord tunes in Drop D a lot and I use standard tuning myself, usually. I just like the good old power chords.
Jason - Musical Inspiration? Does it just come from anywhere?
Rich - It comes from a lot of different places.
Jason - Anything to add on?
Rich - Van Halen, Led Zeppelin. All kinds of classic music, and moving on through alternative music. We started listening to Henry Rollins, Janes Addiction and more.
Jason - And thatís what you guys like right now?
Rich - ya, still like alternative music. Itís hard to think right now of all the bands I like. I should really make a list.
Jason - ya, just send it in and Iíll post it.
Rich - k *laughs*
Jason - Do you remember the first song you played on guitar, and did it come to you easily?
Rich - Stairway to Heaven, and it came quite easily. I just picked it up by ear and I was so pleased afterwards, I just kept playing it over and over again. The same song and the same part.
Jason - What advice would you have for up and coming bands, or just people who want to start a band?
Rich - Just play all the time, you know? Live and breathe it. Basically *pause*. Just do it. If you wanna be good at something, you have to do it all the time to learn about it.
Jason - *I look in the back seat where my friend and her friend are. Michelle is in my band, but we seldom get together* We have to do it all the time Michelle. You know that? We never get together.
*Rich is laughing*
Rich - Itís really hard work. Itís not just being talented. Itís really hard work.
Jason - Is there going to be a single and video anytime soon? Because Iíve been hearing, itís gonna happen, itís gonna happen, and....
Rich - Weíve been talking bout it. Everythingís up in the air right now. Weíve finished the album and mastering [Foolscap] and it hasnít actually been released, or picked up by any labels.
Jason - It will *laughs*
Rich - *laughs* It will, and it was basically funded by ourselves. Itís an indie product, so maybe weíll get help in distribution and then all those kinds things.
Jason - But as far as a single [for a video etc], any idea or any song in particular?
Rich - I canít say
Jason - How did Geddy Lee help on the EP and the new record?
Rich - Well he was instrumental in producing us and he sang on Space Suit. It was great and a real pleasure to work him. Heís obviously such a genius at what he does. Heís so sharp. If your ever in lack of direction, he can point the way and give you advice and insight in what to do.
Jason - Heís been around the business.
Rich - Ya, exactly. So obviously he was invaluable for advice. He also shops around, you know.
Jason - You probably wanna go soon, so Iím gonna go a little quicker. Did Rob do the artwork on Foolscap?
Rich - Yes he did
Jason - The album name was changed from metal dog and the pig of steel to Foolscap. Any reason behind it?
Rich - Itís an abstract and it sort of describes Robís writing. A lot of it is abstract. It sounds good, comes from different places and put together to make something that is left up for interpretation. Definitely everyone will have their interpretation of Foolscap.
Jason - Any guest appearances on the CD you can tell us as of now?
Rich - Ben Mink, definitely. I know of the contributions heís made to our songs.
Jason - Do you guys have a favourite song to perform live at the moment?
Rich - No. They all feel pretty good and when were doing short sets like this, we pick our best feel good songs to play first. So we get a momentum going. They all feel pretty good. Itís definitely a good feeling up on stage. Very comfortable.
Jason - I know you guys covered Clampdown by the Clash. Are there any other songs you guys would like to cover?
Rich - No. Itís been a struggle. Everyoneís so picky that itís difficult to find a good cover to play.
Jason - Any songs that did not make it onto Foolscap that maybe one day youíll play live? Unreleased material?
Rich - We have a song named Evil Robotics that didnít make it onto Foolscap, that is going onto a Sonic Unyon compilation with four other labels. Sonic Unyon and four other labels are all compiling onto a compilation CD. One of our songs will be on that. I think we have a couple other songs we left off the album so that our manager could market them in other ways.
Jason - Canadian music scene and American music scene. What do you think about the Canadian music and when will you break into the American music scene? Have you toured there?
Rich - No, I have no experience in the states, professionally, per say. I think itís [US] a lot busier. Thereís a lot more opportunities in the States. I think, ultimately, that would be the ideal to break in the States. Our music has been described as, kind of, ďun-CanadianĒ. Not to be unpatriotic. I love Canada and I love Canadian music. People have mentioned we sound ďun-CanadianĒ. Perhaps cause of the screaming, angst type music.
Jason - Does the new CD have a lot of screaming?
Rich - Yes, on the CD there is a lot of yelling. The live show, Rob definitely gives it his all. Itís a great thing to be a part of.
Jason - Outdoor or Indoor venues, now that youíve experienced the cold? [It was really cold at Edgefest]
Rich - *laughs* It was kind of exciting having the strong winds. I had to sit in the car for about half an hour before we played to warm up. This is my first time playing outdoors and I liked it. It was great.
Jason - favourite books or movies youíve read or seen recently?
Rich - *pauses to think* No. None that I could mention.
Jason - In a lot of years, cause you guys just started, do you see yourselves still playing music and keeping it going?
Rich - Ya, I think so. Iím really happy to be doing this, you know. Itís all Iíve ever wanted to do with my life and thatís all I ever hoped to keep doing, is just to keep playing.
Interview with Rob
Jason: Now Iím here with Rob of Rocket Science. What are some of your insights as far as lyrics go?
Rob: Well, I read books by guys like Tom Robbins. Do you know who Tom Robbins is?
Jason: Nope, why donít you tell everybody.
Rob: Tom Robbins wrote many great books like Skinny Legs and All, Woodpecker....
Jason: Woodpecker..thatís classic
*Me and Rob Laugh*
[ for more information on Tom Robbins go to http://www.rain.org/~da5e/tom_robbins.html ]
Rob: Heís like an adjectives guy, where heíll take 5 pages to describe the most simplest of things and I find that annoying about his writing but heís really good with playful words, and playing with words. I guess you would call that wordplay [hahaha].
Jason: Is that where Foolscap comes from?
Rob: Well, Foolscap is just a reference to the fact that itís our first record and it felt like a really big learning process making this record. Foolscap was what we used to do all our homework on when I was a kid in school. It just felt appropriate to call the record that. Lyrically, Iím inspired a lot by playful lyrics writing. Goofy songs like space suit and poisonous gasses, that we donít play live. Theyíre super playful.
Jason - So, thereís not a deep meaning to it?
Rob - Well, there is most of the time but usually Iíll dress that up in a very light way. It sounds very abstract and light.
Jason - Did you ever take singing lessons and do you think itís important to be a good singer?
Rob - No. Iíve took a lesson from this woman I met, I tried it twice, and I knew it was just wrong.
Jason - *laughs* Wrong...what was she doing Rob?
Rob - Well, I mean, if you wanna sing classically then ya, sure. Iím not into singing, per say. Were into having a good time and making loud, crazy music.
Jason - I can tell *laughs*
Rob - I donít think itís necessary and what I think is more necessary is really expressing from your gut. I guess some people might say your soul. So I think soul and tension is more important than technique.
Jason - Digital Soul. [re: the headline rocket science Chart Attack article, Rob called it Digital Soul]
Rob - You read that?
Jason - *laughs* ya
Rob - *smiling* holy sh...
Jason - It was on chart. It was the headline article.
Rob - I know, itís so weird eh...
Jason - Now you guys are definitely getting publicity.
Rob - Weíre getting some press, ya.
Jason - You produced a music video for Sinclare.
Rob - Ya, Unfortunately they broke up now. They just broke up.
Jason - Can you say anything about that anyways, and also about you producing your album?
Rob - Ya. When I was growing up, I used to play with video cameras a lot. These guys needed a video and they had very little money but I had the means to make them one.
*Robs looks to the back of the car window all of the sudden to look at Tuuli, the band on stage*
Rob - Theyíre playing Hashpipe? [by Weezer]
Michelle - Ya.
Rob - Hilarious...
Jason - I thought Weezer took the stage all the sudden.
*everyone pauses to listen*
Jason - Is that Tuuli?
*everyone says Ya and laughs*
Rob - They should open for Tool. Uh........*pause* where were we?
Jason - Sinclare, the video.
Rob - So ya, I had the means to make them a video, so I did.
Jason - Your producing on your record. How did that go?
Rob - Awsome. Geddy was really heavily in charge at the beginning of the sessions, but as he got busier, and I wanted to work harder, I was doing a lot of it myself. Some really great stuff came out of that.
*Rob look at Michelle and Nathalie and starts laughing*
Rob - Are these your friends? *laughs*
Jason - *laughs* ya, theyíre just mooching off your car [thatís heated]
Rob - thatís fine.
Jason - Acoustic sets. Eventually you might be doing Edge sessions or something to that affect, so will you guys ever do acoustic sets?
Rob - Ya. I mean, when most people get the record, theyíll see that the record is pretty diverse. What we do live is pretty over the top in a heavy way. We write all kinds of music and there are tunes that we could definitely do acoustic.
Jason - So you wanna pull out the acoustic guitar and just do something right here for us?
Rob - Sure, whatever you like.
Jason - White Ribbon Campaign [WRC]. You guys played that concert. What are your views on the WRC? Would you ever ask to play again? Do you support the cause?
Rob - Well ya, Iíd play it again. I donít know if Iíd force the issue and ask, but if we were asked to be a part of it, ya I would do it. Obviously Iím a supporter, because I think itís a great cause. The idea of men smacking women around is heinous.
[ for more information on the WRC go to http://www.whiteribbon.ca ]
Jason - Some Our Lady Peace Questions now. How was it touring with Our Lady Peace?
Rob - It was pretty great.
Jason - Pretty great? Not amazing? *laughs*
Rob - K, well you could say amazing. Well, I guess the reason why I wouldnít say it was amazing was because it wasnít my band. They phoned me up and asked if I could help them out, and I said yes cause I had the time. So, for that it was great. They treated me really well.
Jason - They fed you?
Rob - *laughs* They fed me. I had my own hotel room, which in our world is like gold. Iíve known those guys for a long time but when you live on a bus together for two months you get pretty close.
Jason - And you toured with them, with Change of Heart?
Rob - Ya, like Ď96 or something.
Jason - Was there a best part to touring with Our Lady Peace? The experience?
Rob - Well, musically it was a lot of fun playing with Jeremy. Whoís an amazing drummer, and to play with a drummer like that, as a bass player, is a lot of fun. Bass to me is like a drum kit with tones, so theyíre a direct link. So ya, aside from all the musical things that were great, like I said, I had my own hotel room, I got to travel comfortably for two months, we flew a lot, got to play a lot of golf with Raine and Jeremy.....
Jason - That....is cool. *laughs*
Rob - Raine and Jeremy are pretty big golfers, and I like to golf a lot too. The three of us played a lot of golf.
Jason - So are they good scores?
Rob - Jeremy is really good. He is low eighties, high seventies. Like, really good. Raine and I are similar. Low nineties.
Jason - And......
Michelle - Ask him about his musical influences.
Jason - Musical Influences?
Rob - Recently, a band called Refused.
*Michelle and Nathalie smile and agree*
Jason - We have some people in the back who agree I think.
Rob - Refused, is probably, the biggest revelation Iíve had in a long time. Hearing that music influenced a lot of what goes on, on our record, and what goes on in our band. Queens of the Stone Age, I think are really great.
*Dan comes near the window of the car*
Dan - uh, hey. Have you seen rich?
Rob - no, sorry man
Dan - itís alright.
*Dan leaves showing rich sitting in the car next to us*
Jason - Heís right there. *laughs* That is so funny. Did you do that on purpose Rob?
Rob - No I didnít.
Jason - ok, so Queens of the Stone Age.....
Rob - Queens of the Stone Age, bands like Drive like Jehu. At the Drive-In are one of my favourite new bands. Theyíre from Texas. *looks back at Michelle and Nathalie* Have you girls heard of them?
Michelle and Nat: Ya.
Mich: *asks Nathalie* didnít they break up?
Rob: *really surprised in a whisper* did they break up?!
Nat: no, I know (starts saying things bout the band).
Rob - ya, I hope they didnít break up. That would be a shame.
Michelle and Nat: Nah, they didnít break up.
Rob - So ya, thatís recently. When I was younger I was into Hendrix, Ween and No Means No and The Clash. So ya. That about covers it.
After me and Rob did some private talking. Expect RS to take a straight up altitude flight in the not to distant future.
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