- So You're Rocket Science? That DOES Impress Me Very Much, Actually
now and again, an album comes along and pummels you in the face so hard
that, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to just play the
odd track from it - and you end up playing the whole damn thing from
start to finish every time. You may even have tried a different approach,
by choosing random select on your CD player and hoping that chance will
quell this addiction...but alas, you STILL end up listening to the whole
thing. Well, Rocket Science have achieved just that with their remarkable
"Contact High" album. It's a rocking, rollicking rollercoaster
of a record that only just missed out on a "10" rating in
our albums' reviews section this month because Nick only thought it
was a "brilliant" album, as opposed to my belief that it is
a "brilliantly brilliant" one. So I was delighted that the
band's bassist extraordinaire, Dave Gray was on hand to answer some
questions on Aussie music, life on the road and...er...Toby Mangel?
AD: "Contact High" is a fantastic album - one of the best
I have heard in some time in fact - but how come it's taken three years
since the release of "Welcome Aboard the 3C-10" to see the
light of day?
DG: We recorded 3C10 in late 98 but it didnt come out until 2000 (Australia
only- its still not out in the UK yet). We recorded Contact High in
mid 2001 and it was released in Australia in February last year. We
shopped around for a UK licensing deal, which we signed earlier this
year. In fact we are focusing attention on the next recording project,
which is exciting. It just takes a long time for these things to happen.
This is why I baulk at the idea of jumping on bandwagons (except the
nu-rock/Ayers Rock bandwagon that is). Just to be safe, Im keeping my
funk metal electro dance grunge outfit under wraps, in anticipation
of the demise of rock by numbers. What? No kidding? Say it aint so.
Kit has just informed me its already happened and Ive missed the boat-
again. Damn it. Oh well, maybe next week.
AD: Australia seems to have a fresh and burgeoning music scene of
late, with bands like yourselves, the Vines and the D4 to name but a
few. I remember when Men At Work were the only ones! What do you think
has been the cause of this explosion?
DG: There is no explosion at all, its just that you have been made aware
of the existence of multiple bands from the same region at the same
time. For every great band youve heard of, there are 100 you havent
(well maybe 10. No Im sure 100 is closer), and that has nothing to do
with geography- its about fashion and timing. Of course inspiration
ebbs and flows, and different regions and eras have their glory days
and low points, but for the most part a movement is about marketing
by brand association. Right now, timing and fashion is kind to us. I
guess high-energy pub-rock has been a staple of the Australian musical
diet for years and years. Its just that the world at large happens to
be searching for organic and unleashed electrified music that is a tradition
in Australia. New Zealand and Australia, especially Melbourne (our home
town) produces world class and innovative music in diverse forms that
you will never hear because of minimal self-promotion and lack of industry
support, not lack of inspiration. I guess many places in the world could
claim the same state of affairs. Id like the next media constructed
movement to be called Nu Interesting.
Let's not forget that Australia has it's fair share of godawful bands,
some of which I'm sure you'll be hearing from soon.
AD: How important is it to you that you have a hand in the production
of your albums?
DG: Essential. We all have strong ideas about the kind of music we want
to make, and therefore are required to oversee the creative process
to completion. Having said that, its not like we are control freaks.
I want to create music that I would like to listen to. I feel compelled
to be involved in all creative areas of our music. To use Romans expression,
one needs ownership of the process to feel involved in it.
AD: "Being Followed" has been voted as the best single
of the year so far in the reviews section of our forthcoming issue.
What's the story behind the song, is it autobiographical? Was one of
you being stalked? I was intrigued by the line "He only talks in
rhyme" which put me in mind of a comic book film.
DG: Roman wrote it. Spelling out the meaning of lyrics is like telling
someone that Norman Bates impersonates and dresses as his long-dead
mother and keeps her corpse in the cellar- giving the game away spoils
it for the viewer/listener. Apologies to readers who may have not yet
seen Psycho, I just had to make a point. I have my own interpretation
of Being Followed. I see this song as both metaphorical and autobiographical,
but I also see that it could be relevant to anyone- but Im not going
to say in what way.
AD: I think my favourite description I've read of your band is that
you "sound like the Hives being run over by a truckload of Small
Faces". How would YOU describe your sound?
DG: I prefer more fun than a barrel of monkeys rolling down Mt Vesuvius.
AD: I came to Australia ten years ago for a holiday, and I loved
the place. Everyone was really friendly - except the taxi drivers! Why
are your cabbies such miserable bastards?
DG: Id be a miserable bastard too if I were a cabbie in Australia. We
have miserable bastards in all walks of life, you just have to work
a crappy job (or be holed up in a cab) to find them.
AD: Rolling Stone magazine called you "the best live band in
the world". That must have felt good. In what way ARE you the best
live band in the world?
DG: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Its a nice feeling when people
enjoy your work.
AD: If Kylie Minogue approached you and asked you to do a single
with her, what would your response be?
DG: What is the onomatopoeia for drool? As long as I could pick the
song and she didnt sing, Id be into the idea.
Id like to take this opportunity to introduce a new segment: Neighbours
Trivia With Rocket Science. Fact #1: Cast your mind back to the Neighbours'
cast of the late eighties. Our assistant on Contact High played Joe
Mangles ten year old son, Toby.
AD: You recently completed a tour of the UK and will shortly be embarking
on another. What are the best and worst things about touring, and what
do you miss most about home?
DG: The best thing about touring is being on stage, the second best
thing about touring is discovering a new place and having the time to
go exploring. The worst thing by far is spending prolonged periods of
time away from my partner. Other bad things about touring are the cabin
fever, the endless checking in and checking out, and the general blah
blah blah blah of it all.
AD: What made you decide to learn to play the theremin and incorporate
it into your music? I'm jealous...
DG: Other than sheepishly prodding and poking at it from time to time,
I stay well clear of it. To this day I still get a kick out of watching
Roman play it. Romans the guy to ask with regard to his motives, but
to me it seems self evident why one would play it and incorporate it
into one's music.
No need to be jealous, all you need is a power point and body capacitance
however Clara Rockmore and Leon Theremin would surely dispute this assessment.
AD: What's your ultimate ambition for Rocket Science?
DG: Simply to have the opportunity to continue enjoy making the kind
of music that I want to make with the people I choose to make it with.
To evolve as a band creatively. World domination isnt really part of
AD: Anything else you'd like to talk about?
DG: Not really, just thanks for caring.
and how could we NOT care? Anybody who hears Rocket Science's work
of magnificence just cannot fail to be impressed. Even Shania Twain,
whose Godawful song I borrowed the heading of this article from. It's
just a pity that the Hives beat them to the album title "Your New
Favourite Band" - go on, have a guess who mine is?
"Contact High" is out now and if you don't go and buy it,
I'm going to come round your house and pull your nose until you look
like Barry Manilow.
Interview and transcript by Tone E