Interview by Ivan Guzman
“Wild and Free” is the title of A Rocket to the Moon’s upcoming sophomore album, which is due out March 28th. The Americana-rock quartet’s last effort was back in 2009, when they established their devout fan base and confronted the scene with pop-rock at its finest. I recently got the chance to do a short interview with Eric Halvorsen, the band’s bassist, where we managed to talk about critics, studio habits, album expectations, how the band’s music has matured, and the influences behind “Wild and Free.” Check out what Eric had to say!
Your new music video for “Ever Enough” just came out a few days ago. It stars Disney actress Debby Ryan. Where did you guys get the idea for this video and how did Debby come in?
-We actually didn’t come up with the story line ourselves. It was our director, Mark, who did our video for “Whole Lotta You” and “Mr. Right” from our last record. We were thinking about who could play the part for the girl, and we’ve been friends with Debby for a while, so she was just our first thought, and she was on board. We usually just have a vibe about what we want our videos to be like, and then it goes from there.
Many critics are easy to label bands’ second album as the “sophomore slump.” Did you guys go into the studio with this in your head?
-Not really. We just went in to the studio with songs that we wanted to record and write. I don’t think anybody goes into the studio thinking “Oh, we can’t write a record this way or that way because of this whole, cliche ‘sophomore slump’ thing.” I think [the record] either works or it doesn’t. We just wrote the songs we wanted to write and record them. So, if people want to call it that, then I guess it’s up to them, but we didn’t have that in mind at all.
Do you tend to listen to critics?
-No [laughter]. I don’t listen to them for other bands, for our band — I just don’t see the point. We put the music out, and not everybody is going to like it, but it’s not going to change what we do. I just don’t really care, I guess.
How has ARTTM’s music matured from “On Your Side” to “Wild and Free”?
-Well, we wrote “On Your Side” in 2008 when most of the band was 20, and now we’re around 24. I think as far as our sound, it has just been a natural progression over those four years. We didn’t really set out to change anything drastically. I don’t think any of our core fans will be too surprised with what’s on the record.
On the subject of how your music has changed – listening to Wild and Free, you can obviously tell that there is more of a country influence. How did this come about?
-That has to do a lot with our personal influences. We really like old country, Americana-type music. We’re all big country fans – alternative country, that is. We all just have this Americana vibe, so I guess it just mixed with our other music tastes and came out while recording.
How much of a group effort is it when you guys go into the studio?
-Writing is primarily Nick and Justin- not that we’re prone to writing as a band, but that’s just how it worked out. After that, for this album, we got together and actually play live together, which we haven’t done thus far.
What is your main strength when you go into the studio with the band?
-I wouldn’t say that I have one “stand out” strength that I contribute most. Everyone has their own mindset while recording. I guess I’m just good at being myself in the studio and collaborating with the other guys in the band. Well, I am the bassist, so there’s that.
What is the most important thing that you are hoping to accomplish with this record?
-I guess we all want to just get it into the hands of as many people as possible, learn more, and travel around the world. But the backbone of all that is a successful record, so hopefully it does well so that we can tour off of it. Whatever happens on top of that would be an added bonus.
Is there a certain theme with the songs on this album that you’re hoping to get across to people most?
-All the songs have different themes, but I think the whole record is relatable. We have songs about love, growing up, being yourself, having fun– it’s all across the board. Hopefully we can connect with everyone.
Last question – since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists that we can check out?
-I’m going to a show tonight to see my buddy, Ben, who is in a band called American Tomahawk. My other buddy is also putting out a record this year with his band called The Chain Gang of 1974. It’s a psychedelic, new wave-ish record, and people would be crazy not to like it, in my opinion haha.
Thanks for talking with us! Good luck with the record, and everything else.