Not a long time ago Daily Metal received an EP A Wayward Constant from young alt-pop-rock band A Rocket Complex. The music was nice and sincere so we was interested a lot. With it there was interesting video for one of the songs and the guys were very nice. So we talked to them about handmade guitars, songs’ meaning, alt-pop-rock and many other.
You are rock band from Portsmouth. Can you please tell me more about you: who are A Rocket Complex?
Will: A Rocket Complex are two piece Alternative Pop Rock band from Portsmouth, UK. Made up of Will Powell (Singer and Multi Instrumentalist, 25) and Nathan Shervill (Drummer, 21)
There are only two members in the band. Don’t you feel you need more people in A Rocket Complex or two is just enough for this project?
Nathan: When we first started the band we were writing songs that couldn’t be played with just the 2 of us yet we still believed we could pull it off – be it with backing tracks or session musicians joining us on stage. Although personally I’m slightly against backing tracks they do have their bonuses (especially when there’s only 2 of you). Currently there’s a mix of backing tracks and extra musicians for a live situation, but as for the “band” it’s just Will and I.
You are DIY project. Which problems or/and advantages you have faced with it at this stage of band’s history?
Nathan: We aren’t signed, we don’t have management or high demands or certain goals set for us to achieve for someone else above us. We have all the control and freedom we need at this moment in time for such a fresh band. These are the advantages, however the many disadvantages of doing it all on our own include things like funding, wide spread promotion etc, they can easily be achieved on our own but it’s so much easier when there are more people helping you out. I don’t want to be a band that HAS to produce music for someone else’s financial gain, I wanna create music because I love creating music.
What attracted you to this music genre, why did you decide to play alt pop rock?
Nathan: What attracted me to this genre was the fact that I love it yet I’d never played it before. I’ve been in many bands over the years; metalcore, hard rock, acoustic rock and pop punk to name a few. It’s such a fun genre to play! Also my favourite band is Lordi, so being able to use synths is such a big thing for me as I’ve never really used them before in a band setup! Ok so A Rocket Complex and Lordi are two different genres but there are certain sounds and playing styles that can be seen in both!
Will: For me, when I write the songs, they come out how they do. Like a parent to a child relationship, it’s such an organic process, that I tend not to try to objectify or pigeon hole the songs. Whilst writing I’m so in the moment of living the story I want to tell and get across. Genres are there to categorise music, but a lot of time whilst writing limits aren’t a good thing. Sometimes they are too. There is a reason you can only have 140 characters in a tweet.
The debut release is always massively important and a big responsibility for the band to take on. Your first EP will be released on Sep, 23d. Tell me more about the EP, please. How did the idea of A Wayward Constant appear? How was it recorded?
Will: The A Wayward Constant EP was written and recorded at our own studio in Portsmouth. The songs were written of the course of several years, whilst we were building our studio and working on the technical side of our set up here. We had a few proof of concepts that we wanted to prove to ourselves that people would want to hear specific types of content from us! Whilst releasing our first cover and first single, we were always working on this to be the first major release.
Lyrically the EP draws from a lot of personal experiences from my life over the last few years and sometimes going way back. The best songs you can write usually start from somewhere or something you know. Though with that being said, I love when artists don’t beat you over the head with the straight up theme or meaning of the song, so I like to veil the «true» meaning of the song in a lighter or funner theme, “YOU ARE HERE”’s map theme, “Hard Truth”’s police and law enforcement references, “4th and 10”’s American Football lyrics etc.
The EP title comes a concept I stumbled upon a few years ago. A contronym is a word or phrase that has two opposite meanings (similar to my lyrics writing style), and the «A Wayward Constant» is just that. I’m big science nerd and deep thinker, and when I heard about what a contronym was, I started thinking life the universe and everything. What would happen if one scientific constants (like gravity or the speed of light) broke down and went off the rails?
Nathan: The inspiration for A Wayward Constant came from a few different ideas and places, the main one being how both Will and I haven’t lived the «typical» lives other people our age would have. Some say we’re still chasing the dream of being rockstars, but when you’re so dedicated to something it’s hard to give up on it. Not saying our dreams are to be rockstars, we just want people to listen to and enjoy our music. We both started gigging at young ages so it’s something we’ve grown up doing and consider a normal life. Some people would consider doing a 9-5 job a normal thing but we don’t. Not taking anything away from that, but it’s the whole double standard thing.
Tell me more about each song, please.
Will: Its tough this one. As I said previously, there are two meanings with each of the songs, the theme and the true meaning underneath. The true meaning I’d like the audience to find for themselves, a lot can be discovered even about yourself in the exploration or ideas and concepts. A song will always mean something different to everyone who listens to it too, that’s the beautify of songwriting!
“4th and 10”, the opening track, I wrote as challenge to myself! I wanted to write a song about sex, but through the «lens» of American Football terms and references. It’s also phrased as an argument between two lovers. It’s up to listen to figure out who is saying what lines, and where they begin and end. I think we originally envisioned this track to be a happy summer festival opener.
“You Are Here” is a song about maps and travel, and never forgetting that you need to walk your own path in life, and no one else’s. We really wanted to work with «Slams» and «Pushes», probably the most stadium rocky of the EP.
“Hard Truth” can be seen as a love song with a heavy Police and Law enforcement theme, but is it? Very proud of the ending section of this song. We took a very Thin Lizzy approach to the ending with a dual solo between synth and keys to bring the song out.
“Terminal 4” is named after the London Heathrow terminal I used to travel through whilst moving back and forth between Portsmouth and Chicago/San Francisco as a kid (moved back and forth about every 3 months or so!). Its a song about patience, and knowing that the end of something is just a beginning. I think the phrase goes «As one door closes, another opens».
You made a video for the “You Are Here” song. Please, tell about the work on it.
Will: We made the music video just us two! Luckily I work as a cinematographer for corporate client work as my day job, so we have all the production tools to hand! We used a lot of techniques on this one that we’ve never done before. Hyper lapse was a big one, a form of moving timelapse (how we did the opening shot of the pin moving away from the camera), though it was the hardest shot we’ve ever done! It took 6 and half hours, 480 frames (single pictures) and we moved half a mile whilst shooting. On top of all that, we were filming in the 32˚ heat! Unusual for the UK, lots of sunscreen and water were needed!
Why did you make a video for “You Are Here”, what differs this song from other ones?
Will: We decided to work on You Are Here first out of the four as we think it’s one of the two strongest tracks from the EP. The concept (the map pin with moving song lyrics) was something we cooked up a a while ago whilst playing with some motion tracking text for a client. We have some lofty ambitions for the next 3 music videos, this seemed the most achievable in the meantime, as well as the best result on a small budget.
I know you have made your guitars yourself. Tell me more about it, please. Is anything else you like to do except music?
Will: Yes I do build my own guitars! Its quite a nice experience to be honest, so incredibly personal. Like a blacksmith wielding a sword he forged himself. I’m not the strongest on wood work, or painting lacquering, I usually outsource those to other luthiers. But I’m great in the design phase, assembly, «teching» and the electronics of guitars is something I excel at. At least in my own eyes!
So far I’ve been lucky enough to build one for every major record I’ve worked on, and it’s something I hope to be able to continue in future. For our first cover, our version of “Of the Night” by Bastille, I built a Strat style guitar called “In Case Of Trouble”. The unique thing about that one was it had two different pick up modes which you can toggled between whenever you need, a traditional 5 way Strat pick up pattern, and a 3 way Les Paul style Double Humbucker style. It’s a incredible versatile instrument!
For the rest of the EP and our first original single “Hello From Last Year”, I built my custom Precision/Tele bass. I call it Panthera Leo, again a pretty unique piece. The pick guard is a custom shape to fit both the “mudbucker” and P bass style pick ups. I installed a coil tap for the mud bucker, which makes a really unique sound when combined with the P. Hopefully that comes through in our records.
Apart from music, Nate and I are fans of video games, American football, and huge fans of Pokemon! (The band name is a reference to Pokemon).
What are your plans for future?
Will: A Rocket Complex has a lot coming up over the next year. Right now to go along with the release of the EP, Lew (our live guitarist) and I will be playing the whole EP, plus a few more tracks live on Twitch and Younow over several dates in the lead up to the EP launch and after! Should be a lot of fun to do. Around mid October, we should be announcing our live gigs dates, hopefully working towards two small tours. A tour with Nathan and I busking in various towns across the UK to bring more awareness to the band, and a short full band tour. We should have more to announce soon on that. At the same time we are currently already writing the run of songs/EP. We a have a working title which we love and will hopefully carry us through the next load of recording. Can’t wait!
Spare few words to your fans, please.
Nathan: Thank you so much for everything, it’s rather cheesy but if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing! We are all still young and have many years ahead of us, let’s travel and experience things together while we can and not just enjoy the destination but the journey we’re taking to get there!
Interview by Natalia Dmytruk