A Rocket to the Moon, This Century, Brighten
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
The Maine is an American rock band from Tempe, Arizona. In their eight years together, The Maine has released four full-length albums, including their major label debut "Black & White" in 2010. The band expanded their musical realm into production which resulted in their fourth EP, the self-recorded and produced "Imaginary Numbers" (2013). Over the years, they have toured across the globe as well as extensively on home soil in the US; both as headliners and in support roles. The Maine has shared the stage with the likes of Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin, A Rocket To The Moon, Augustana, and many more. The band has made numerous festival appearances including the Vans Warped Tour, Bamboozle, and South by Southwest. The Maine is recognized within the industry for the close relationships they build and maintain with their fans -- many of whom are now college age and have grown up alongside the band. The Maine is John O'Callaghan, Pat Kirch, Kennedy Brock, Garrett Nickelsen, and Jared Monaco.
A Rocket to the Moon
After the release of their debut album, "On Your Side," in 2009 via Fueled By Ramen, A Rocket To the Moon spent several years on the road, cutting their teeth in clubs across the U.S. sharpening their electrifying live show. The album, which sold over 80,000 copies and generated over 700,000 digital singles sold, spawned hit single "Like We Used To," a number that appeared on "Jersey Shore" and "Teen Mom" and charted at Sirius Hits, keeping the band on the road for longer than anticipated. When the group, which initiated on Nick's laptop in his bedroom back in 2006, came off this slew of performances the focus finally shifted to what would be come their second album, "Wild & Free."
Although the musicians began penning new music last year on their own, they aimed to expand their songwriting with collaboration. The group had previously dabbled in new styles on their 2010 split EP, "Rainy Day Sessions," which they made with bluegrass group Larkin Poe, so it made sense to continue exploring those sensibilities. The band embarked on a series of co-writing trips to Nashville throughout the fall and winter of 2011, working with everyone from Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra, Sugarland) to Robert Ellis Orrall (Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire) to Love & Theft singer Stephen Barker Liles.
"It was an extra set of ears in the room and a person that wasn't usually familiar with your band," Nick says. "So their ideas were something completely new and completely fresh for the song that you're coming up with or the idea that you have. After those writing trips, Justin and I got together again at my house by ourselves to work on some songs without co-writers because we got a new wind from working with them. You go in and learn all this stuff from the way that they write and the way that they come up with ideas. You can then take that in your own way and that's how the album came about."
A Rocket To the Moon sorted through the 30-plus songs that emerged from these sessions, selecting 13 that are a combination of co-writes and insular work. The group went back to Nashville in January and February to record with Mark Bright, the producer responsible for Rascal Flatts' first three albums as well as discs by Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery. Although Bright's background is generally rooted in country music, the producer and the band found a central ground, infusing A Rocket To the Moon's pop-tinged rock with an artful country flair.
"To have a big time country producer to want to work on an up-and-coming pop rock band like us was amazing," Nick notes. "It was a crazy coincidence that Mark was interested in us because we wanted to work with a big time country producer. I feel like we met in the middle so it was the best of both worlds and resulted in a great record everyone is happy with."
It may sound extreme but "Wild & Free" -- and its preceding EP "That Old Feeling" -- isn't so much a transformation of A Rocket To the Moon's sound as it is an evolution. The group's signature pop hooks and energized sensibility remain, but there is a new sense of excitement that resonates through the tracks as they dabble in new territory. This feeling of palpable inspiration is present throughout, infusing both the uptempo rockers and quieter ballads on the disc. From the buoyant pop of first single "Whole Lotta You" to hushed acoustic rocker "Another Set of Wings," which was inspired by Nick's dad landing in the hospital, to upbeat standout "You're My Song," "Wild & Free" centers both on hooky, thoughtful instrumentation and narrative-based songwriting that traces the last few years of the musicians' lives. The band sounds older and more focused, an element of the album that has nothing to do with genre.
"I think our band has always changed," Nick says. "It started with just me in a bedroom with a laptop making Postal Service-type pop electronic songs to making more pop rock-type music. And now, three years later, I think we've matured further. I'm not a 19-year-old kid anymore. We're all older, we've had time to listen to new music and to go back and listen to old music. We've been influenced by everything we've been listening to and we're just writing from our hearts."
Brighten is an up and coming band with a lot of potential. They've got catchy lyrics and without a label they've been doing pretty well on their own. There is not only one way to interpret Brighten and who they are. Take Jimmy Eat World and stir in a little James Taylor, add a little Get Up Kids and top with a pinch of Phil Collins and out comes Brighten. They are rock and roll boys that you can take home to mom. They also perform amazingly.