The Rocket Summer lets the muse take its time

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Three-and-a-half years have passed since The Rocket Summer released its last album.

But as Bryce Avary, who in the studio is The Rocket Summer but gathers musicians for his live act, explained in a phone interview, he didn’t spend all of that time idle before releasing the new album, dubbed “Zoetic.”

Instead, he spent a lot of that time writing, recording, and giving the material time to simmer a bit as he let his creativity lead him where it wanted to go.

The Rocket Summer plays Friday night at The Space in Hamden.

Bryce explained that after his last album, “Life Will Write The Words,” was released in 2012, he spent about a year touring behind it. Then in 2014, after a slight moment to catch his breath, he got down to the hard work of preparing its follow-up.

Previously, Bryce said The Rocket Summer’s records were pulled together in quicksilver fashion. He’d spend a few months writing and a few months recording… and the new effort was available to the fans shortly after.

This time, Bryce said, “I just wanted to spend time to unlock some new creative ideas. I had to make myself available for them.”

And those ideas were definitely waiting for him, explained Bryce.

“There was an outpouring of creativity I wasn’t prepared for,” said Bryce.

There were so many different musical genres germinating in that waterfall of creativity, said Bryce. “I wanted to allow myself to be in a space where anything goes.”

“I was just trying to make art.”

The evidence of that outpouring lays in the music of the new album. Listening to “Zoetic,” you’ll find The Rocket Summer exploring driving rock, funky rhythms, some electronic sounds, all topped with and tied together by Bryce’s urgent tenor.

Inspiration, said Bryce, came from a lot of places. The key, he said, was giving himself permission to accept that “whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”

Bryce said he also reinvigorated the muse by listening to other artists—his musical roots. “I was falling back into the stuff that had gotten me to play music in the first place.” Artists such as The Smashing Pumpkin and Radiohead helped stoke his creative flames.

Listening to his own material, said Bryce, he has seen his creative growth over the years. And listening to his earlier material, he recognizes a certain naivete in the songwriting.

But that’s the byproduct of being around music for all of this time, he explained. Evolution is going to happen, he said. “I’m so grateful and blessed to be making music as long as I have.”

However, despite the changes over time, Bryce said you can still tell it’s all The Rocket Summer.

“It’s a journey,” said Bryce, “and I’m stoked I get to do it.”

“I’m happy.”

The Rocket Summer’s current tour began on March 11. But when Bryce was interviewed, he said he still figuring out a set list that balanced the music from “Zoetic” with his past material that fans wanted to here.

“It will be a mixture,” said Bryce on his set list. “I don’t want to turn my back on my past.”

But he was contemplating approaching the older material in the same way Radiohead approaches performances of its classic song, “Creep,” a song that doesn’t sound anything like where the band is now. Instead of re-creating the song for who they were, they adapt it to who they are now.

“I think it would be cool if I modernized (the older material),” said Bryce.

For The Space, although he would like to have an extraordinarily spectacular stage show to go along with the sound of the new record, he recognized the venue itself lends itself to something more intimate. The focus will be on the music and the new arrangements, he said.

With the new record only having recently been released, Bryce said The Rocket Summer will focus on touring behind “Zoetic.” He expected he will be out on the road well into 2017.

For Bryce, the road is a welcome return after having been in the studio with “Zoetic” as long as he had been. Bryce said, “Playing is like oxygen to me. I’ve been deprived of it too long.”

“I want to tour as much as possible,” said Bryce. Although, he said, the next step after the tour that takes him to Connecticut was still yet to be written.

The Rocket Summer, along with FARRO (the new project by Josh Farro, formerly of Paramore) and Kalimur, comes to The Space, 295 Treadwell Ave., Hamden on Friday, March 25. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $16. For more information, go TheSpaceCT.com

Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer comes to The Space on Friday night.

Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer comes to The Space on Friday night.