Hi! It’s really great to talk with you. We are super excited that you are interested in our new album. BTW, this is Ramune, the Rocket 3 lead singer and guitarist. Ramune (pronounced Rum-oo-nee) is also the name of a Japanese soft drink that you might have heard of, but in my case it is a common Lithuanian first name. Historically I’ve been the main songwriter for Rocket 3, but on this latest release bass player, Kenneth Foust, also contributed to songwriting.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I Choose Love”? Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
Sure! “I Choose Love” isn’t really a single, but it is the first track on the album. The song was somewhat inspired by the birth of my brother’s first child. I envisioned it as a song that I could sing to a child, not quite a lullaby, but a sweet simple tune. The lyrics of the song “it wasn’t a thought in my head, it was a feeling in my heart instead” describe a love that has no logic, a love that is mysterious and unexplainable.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
No plans for any videos at this point, at least not any professional ones. But, if I were going to name a single from the album, I might choose Hip Shot. I love that tune, and especially Gavin Duffy’s saxophone riffs.
The single comes off your new album What’s The Frequency? – what’s the story behind the title?
There is an old tune by R.E.M. called “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” that we started covering when Kenneth Foust joined the band. All of us in the band love R.E.M. and that song was one of our favorites and welcomed Kenneth into the band. Kenneth played a big role in the new album, both on bass and as a songwriter.
How was the recording and writing process?
We released our last album, Burn, four years ago in 2014. We started writing this new batch of songs after that album was released, and we played all of these tunes live at gigs. We recorded the album over the course of a year, mostly over holidays and weekends. Kenneth and I were the primary songwriters. We write separately but we influence each other once we start playing the song together as a band.
What role does Portland play in your music?
Portland is one of the best places for a band that plays original music. I’ve heard from folks that in other parts of the country it is better to be a cover band. In Portland there are venues that only book bands that play original music. Also, several of the band members play in multiple bands in Portland, which is pretty typical. I play in Rocket 3 and Avalanche Lily. Ken plays in Rocket 3 and Life Hack. Andrew and Gavin play in too many bands to list. We also contribute to broader music culture. I review local bands for the Portland Notes music blog, and Andrew curates events for the Local Roots Music Showcase. So, I’d say being in Portland has a lot to do with our music.
How much did R.E.M. influence the writing on this album?
We all love R.E.M. and grew up listening to them.
What aspect of love and cruelty did you get to explore on this record?
Interesting question. I’d say that the record really spans the gamut. I Choose Love and Favorite Thing might be on one bookend. Echoes, which is about witnessing a time when an entire audience in an auditorium found humor in what was actually a cruel joke, is probably the other bookend. What If is a song about choosing between a relationship and a drug addiction. It was actually supposed to be a duet between two people with one person saying “what if I just need you?” and the other person responding “what if I need to leave?” Evershine shifts between two sides, where the first song chorus is “so let me go” and then the last song chorus is “don’t let me go.” And Giving Up is a song about how great it can feel to let go of a toxic situation and move on.
Any plans to hit the road?
Not really. We all work full time. Kenneth is coaching his kids’ sports teams in his free time, and Gavin is running his sandwich shop. Most importantly we want to continue to play and record musical locally. In our world we don’t measure success by touring, but by getting our music out beyond just the circle of people we know, even if that’s over the airwaves or internet.
What else is happening next in Rocket 3’s world?
We are in the process of rebuilding the band following the departure of our drummer. It might be more than just rebuilding, but maybe reinventing and choosing a new direction for our sound. We’ll see what the future holds for us.