When you listen to the song “Heartbeat” by the Rocketboys, the ethereal, ambient chords initially take you in. Then you’re further enticed by the aching falsetto of lead singer Brandon Kinder. The expansive, resonant sound of the Rocketboys is reminiscent of bands like Keane and Coldplay.
But this indie band won’t be categorized.
Springing out of Abilene, Texas and now residing in Austin, the band is promoting their new album 20,000 Ghosts by embarking on a 31-date national tour. Blast caught up with them while they were playing in Boston, and they talked about everything from what itis like to record their first full album to their biggest influence, Miley Cyrus.
Band Members: Daniel Wheeler (guitar), Justin Wiseman (keys), Mitch Holt (guitar, vocals), Brandon Kinder (guitar, vocals, piano), Josh Campbell (bass, vocals), Alex Bhore (drums, percussion).
Funniest moment on tour: “I fell down a flight of stairs in Illinois. It was a back porch staircase. It was raining and it was wood, and feet slipped and I rolled down the stairs. That was pretty memorable.” -Josh Campbell
Worst moment on tour: “Playing a show in Chicago when I had a fever and horrible bronchitis. Then in the middle of the show, my fever broke and I started dripping with sweat, like all over, and like shaking and I thought I was gonna pass out.” – Daniel Wheeler
In a lot of ways, The Rocketboys are just like every other indie band you’ve seen — they’re long-haired, scruffy-faced boys wearing pearl snaps and skinny jeans. But as the six of us chatted in the back of their tour van, which didn’t take very well to the cobblestone streets of Boston, it became clear that the Rocketboys are not just another indie band.
“Anyone can make an artist myspace,” said lead singer Brandon Kinder, “and get their music out to different people. But I think there’s a certain level where it’s a little bit more than just a fun thing you’re doing.”
The Rocketboys are trying to get ahead of the game by being what few indie bands are with their music — responsible.
“We’re trying to separate ourselves by pursuing music professionally without the support of a record label,” said Daniel Wheeler, guitarist. “We have an extensive tour schedule. We have a publicist. We’re trying to surround ourselves with a team that a record label would provide to a band, but weire trying to do it ourselves, because we like having control of the business of our band.”
Add professionalism to a band that sounds as good live as on a record, and itis a surprise that these guys havenit been signed yet. Their show later that evening backed up bassist Josh Campbellis assertion that sounding good live is something else that sets The Rocketboys apart.
“It’s pretty easy now to like, get garageband and lay down a song, and autotune it,” Campbell said. “We take a lot of pride in our live shows, and making (them) as good as they can be, because I think thatis where some bands are lacking.”
The expansive sound of The Rocketboys’ music is enhanced by their deeply personal lyrics, like these from Heartbeat:
“I would sell you out in a heartbeat/Cause you can defend yourself.”
But songwriting is the one thing that The Rocketboys don’t hold to an exact formula. Band members propose ideas to one another and piece together songs, aiming for catchy melodies with hooks.
“But we definitely try to take bits and pieces of bands that we like and we just put together things that we think sound good,” said keyboard player Justin Wiseman. “And inevitably it borrows a little bit from other people, but our idea is just creating beautiful music.”
According to Brandon Kinder, though, the order of production usually stays the same.
Typically, it’s always music first. Ask questions later.
Though they’ve been playing together since college, 20,000 Ghosts is The Rocketboys first full album. “It was like what we’d done in the past, but amplified, said guitarist Daniel Wheeler. They said the recording sessions, which often lasted up to 10 hours, were exhausting, but in the end, they came out with a product that they could be proud of.
“We’re just trying to create something timeless that people can enjoy,” said Kinder.
The band, who has played with now-popular bands like Grizzly Bear and Eisley, said they really look up to artists like Andrew Byrd, My Morning Jacket and Miley Cyrus?
“She’s pretty much our main influence,” said Kinder with a wry smile.
The next stop for the band after Boston was New York City’s CMJ Music Festival.
“We’re very excited,” said Kinder. “It was kind of a close call. We were kind of accepted at the last minute. We were kind of planning our tour around potentially playing it, which may or may not be the best way to plan a tour”
But like Kinder said, they got accepted and went on to play in one of the nation’s biggest cities for up-and-coming musicians. The Rocketboys’ formula seems to be working so far, and if they continue producing quality music like the stuff on 20,000 Ghosts, we’ll be hearing from them for years to come.
Visit The Rocketboys’ website at myspace.com/rocketboys, and look for their album “20,000 Ghosts” on iTunes.