The Rocket Summer

The Rocket Summer

"It's the most ‘alive’ music I've ever made,” Bryce Avary says of Zoetic, the Rocket Summer's sixth studio album. "I didn't want to make a sappy record; I wanted to make a record that sounds like bombs going off, because that's what my mind felt like. There's a certain manic nature in these songs that I really like, and a restlessness that feels really honest to me." Over the past decade and a half, the Rocket Summer—masterminded by singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Avary—has built a rich and expansive body of work that's won the loyalty of a diverse and devoted international fan base that continues to embrace Avary's exuberant songcraft, optimistic, evocative lyrics and adventurously layered soundscapes.Zoetic marks a creative milestone for Avary, with such sonically and emotionally compelling tunes as "Cold War," "Same Air," "Help Me Out" and "White Fireworks" showcasing the artist's songwriting skills and studio mastery while tapping into a wellspring of edgy inspiration that reflects the unique creative journey that produced the album. "There wasn't any kind of deliberate attempt to make something that would be this different from my past records," Avary states. "I just knew that I wanted to tear down any barriers, including the subconscious ones, and make a record that had no rules. So I just followed the songs that were coming out of me and made sure there were no boundaries in the process of arranging and recording them. That approach allowed me the freedom to push myself to make sure everything that was being recorded would be something new and unique." When he started to plot out his next record, the Dallas-based Avary sought an inspirational change of scene, renting a small house in Los Angeles' fabled Laurel Canyon, sleeping in one room and turning the other into a makeshift recording studio. The experience proved cathartic for the artist.

"I basically fell in love with music all over again, like I had when I was first learning to play," he says. "I pretty much didn't come out for a year. My only mission was to be as creative as possible, and to push myself further than ever. In the process, I recorded around four or five albums of material. I just couldn't stop writing and recording. I realized that something different and special was happening, so I knew I had to follow the trails of the song ideas to see where they all led.""Being in Los Angeles, my initial thought had been that I was going to collaborate with other songwriters and producers," he continues. "But as I became aware of the vision I had, the amount of music I wanted to tackle and the kind of out-of-the-box sounds I wanted to capture, I realized it was going to be totally on me to pull it off. At some points it felt like an insurmountable mountain, but it was a fun challenge to try and conquer it.

I'm always wanting to learn, and this experience certainly pushed me to learn to use new tools and creative gadgets that helped create a unique sound for the album."Avary became musically active in his early teens, teaching himself to play a variety of instruments and joining his first band at the age of 14, before breaking away to play acoustic solo sets in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. At 16, he issued his first EP as a limited-edition indie release, adopting the identity of the Rocket Summer; the name was borrowed from Ray Bradbury's sci-fi classic The Martian Chronicles. "I always liked the idea of releasing it under a moniker other than my own name," Avary explains. "Even though it was just me on the record, it created an atmosphere of something bigger than one person, something that people could feel more a part of and I've stuck with that ever since."The Rocket Summer's first full-length album, Calendar Days, won considerable national attention in 2003. It was followed by 2005's Hello, Good Friend, which peaked at No. 26 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. The latter disc generated sufficient fan interest to allow Avary to assemble a live band and tour in the U.S. and Japan. The Rocket Summer's indie success helped to win Avary a deal with Island/Def Jam, which released Do You Feel in 2007.

That album reached the Top 50 on the Billboard album charts and #16 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums charts, while spawning a pair of popular singles in "So Much Love" and "Do You Feel." Of Men and Angels followed in 2010, debuting at #1 on iTunes and producing a pair of hits in "Walls" and "You Gotta Believe." The same year, Avary branched out to write "Stomping The Roses" for American Idol alumnus David Archuleta. In 2011, Avary released the live acoustic album Bryce Avary, His Instruments and Your Voices for free via the Rocket Summer's website which had over 50,000 downloads on the day of its release. Avary moved from Island/Def Jam to his own label, Aviate, for the Rocket Summer's 2012 album Life Will Write the Words. Despite being an independent release, the album debuted at #58 on the Billboard Top 200 and #12 on Billboard's Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums chart, and was supported by the Rocket Summer's most successful tour to date. Although Avary built his reputation as a Another Reybee Production, Inc. ® The Gregory Commons ® 518 Gregory Avenue ® Suite A313 ® Weehawken ® New Jersey ® 07086 studio-based visionary, the Rocket Summer has also earned an impressive reputation as a live act, expanding into a full-band lineup to sell out venues in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and Japan, while performing at such prestigious festivals as Glastonbury, Soundwave, Austin City Limits, Bamboozle, the Vans Warped Tour and SXSW. Now, with Zoetic raising the musical stakes, Avary is looking forward to the challenge of translating his new material to live performance after a break from touring to focus on this album.

"Playing live is like oxygen to me, so it was hard being away for this long, because it's like putting fuel in the tank for me," Avary asserts. "So this absence is going to make hitting the road taste that much sweeter. This is the most layered and nuanced record I've ever made, and there are a lot of new sounds to try and figure out how to translate live. So it will be cool to pull these songs off with a live band, and hear how they come off in a more raw, on-the-fly scenario." The ongoing devotion of the Rocket Summer's fans makes the prospect of touring all the more alluring for Avary."The thing that I'm most proud of about The Rocket Summer is the fan base, and the passion they have for the music and for each other," he says, adding, "I've always viewed music as the friend that can convince you not to jump in your darkest hour. So I have often thought about that while writing, and I often consider how fans will relate to the songs that I'm writing. "But I'd also say that, with this album, I intentionally didn't allow myself to be influenced by how people would receive it. A big part of breaking down creative walls was to start fresh and only allow myself to follow the songs themselves and what was coming out naturally. And I think that's why it sounds a bit different, because it's raw, creative expression with zero expectation or rules of any kind."Obviously I'm very different now," Avary concludes. "But one thing that hasn't changed is that I still view music as being the most beautiful and mysterious gift on this planet. I'm always thinking about how much more music I can make, how much further I can push it, how more I can learn and how much further the music will take me. I know that I haven't gotten to the place where I'm headed musically, and maybe I never will, and that pushes me to keep going. I always feel like it's still just the beginning."

Final Alibi

The Olympics

"The Olympics is one of the most prominent bands in Iowa today." - Little Village

"The Olympics blows me away every time I see them. WHAT A BAND! They have achieved a type of perfection that bands everywhere dream of. And plus, they are SO HOT! Mumford’s totally bones them with art." - Nate Logsdon

"The Olympics came on next and quickly won the hearts of everyone in the room. Easy progressions set sail on Dan Roalson’s fast and funky bass grooves while Trevor Polk’s creative keyboard voicing made my lips keep curling up into involuntary smiles. The Olympics make fun, well-crafted songs, they are never boring". -Little Village Magazine

"...The Olympics, one of the best young bands in Iowa who've been gaining fans like mad (especially among other bands) with their impressive high-tempo, anthemic and powerfully rocking shows." -Talking with Yale Cohn

"The Olympics are not only talented musicians but also experts at capturing their audience’s energy and throwing that same enthusiasm right back at their fans with energetic stage-presence, witty on-stage banter, hilarious outfit choices and a general sense of laid-back fun." - The Locavaux Project

"One listen to this music, this gut-wrenching, hard-rocking yet mellow, dark yet light and overall defining music and I swear, you won’t be able to get Iowa out of your head." -TheSummerMusicProject

"This is an Iowa band you need to know... they’ve matured into an excellent indie rock band capable of weaving tones together into a bright, rocking and melodic dose of pure pop." - Ames Tribune

"It’s like The Olympics are listening to Pink Floyd in one ear and Razorlight in the other, but somehow it hasn’t come out sounding like Janis from Friends vomiting rusty razorblades into a polystyrene bag full of yapping dogs. It’s in fact the total fucking opposite; Cool and calm, but smart and cerebral." - Just Because…It’s Tuesday

"Lemme tell you something folks, it’s really fucking hard to find bands who banter comfortably on stage without sounding like total assholes, and the olympics have a more inviting stage presence than all the other bands i’ve seen in iowa city combined." - Indie Music Machine

"The five piece proved that poppy rock isn’t strictly the realm of pussies by weaving danceable riffs in and out of tight grooves, punctuated by ripping guitar solos in nearly every song." - The Milk Carton

"There was intense hair-whipping, guitar solos on the floor, and a multitude of interesting sound techniques." - KRUI FM

"The characters in the group's songs are filled with light, something that seems to be guiding, something altogether right and good and yet, there are the tangents that take them to their sad times, where they can't settle on who exactly they're going to wind up as." - Daytrotter

"With an EP and a full length album under their belt, The Olympics are only getting hotter. They’ve built up quite a fan base and have opened for bands like Manchester Orchestra, Menomena, Free Energy, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, Miniature Tigers, Generationals, Fol Chen, Jaill, Now Now and way more." - Little Village Magazine

"The Olympics is a uniquely charming and powerful ensemble whose pretty melodies and fun beats don’t prevent them from rocking their songs really hard." - Ames Tribune

A Better Reality

In the summer of 2012, singer/guitarist Dakota Shelton and former guitarist Soren Lundberg began getting together and covering songs by bands such as All Time Low, blink-182, and Fall Out Boy. Playing along to programmed drums and pre-recorded bass tracks, the two quickly realized that they wanted to take things to the next level. They started writing a couple original songs and began their desperate search for a bassist and a drummer. Several months passed with no luck in finding anyone to join their yet-to-be-named band.

Finally, in November of 2012, Dakota found bassist Rylie Downey on Twitter and, after discovering that he liked a lot of the same music, asked the total stranger if he wanted to play bass for his band. Rylie said yes, and he, Dakota, and Soren hit it off instantly. Together they continued working on some original songs, playing covers, and searching for a drummer to complete their lineup. Realizing their lack of a band name, the three began brainstorming. A few bad ideas later, Rylie came up with "A Better Reality", which comes from a lyric in the song "Somewhere in Neverland" by All Time Low. Obviously that was the winner.

Several more months and a few Craigslist ads went by, and the trio was beginning to think that finding a drummer was impossible. However, they refused to give up. Finally, in March of 2013, drummer Samuel Boesen responded to one of the Craigslist ads, and Dakota invited yet another total stranger over to his house.

Sadly, a couple of days before their first practice with a complete lineup, Soren decided to leave the band to pursue other interests and opportunities. A Better Reality was once again a three-piece. They immediately posted another ad on Craigslist looking for another guitarist, and crossing their fingers that someone would respond. Luckily, in April of 2013, guitarist Brandon Downing filled the missing spot. The four of them clicked instantly, and became best friends within a very short amount of time. They started landing shows with some bigger names like Ghost Town, The Dangerous Summer, The Rocket Summer, This Century, and State Champs. On October 13th, 2013, they released their first EP, "Late Starts and Broken Hearts", which skyrocketed the band's popularity.

We're only getting started, so stick around and we'll see where we go. ♥

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