Earlier this month, folk/pop rock band A Rocket To The Moon released a new EP, That Old Feeling, which features four tracks from their upcoming full-length record, Wild & Free, set to be released in early 2013. On October 17, the band (Nick Santino, Justin Richards, Eric Halvorsen, and Andrew Cook) headed out on tour in support of their new music, kicking off the festivities in Nashville, Tennessee, where it worked on its new material. I had an opportunity to talk with the band’s lead vocalist, Nick Santino, about their first show out, the shift in musical direction on Wild & Free, and their brand new music video for their single, “Whole Lotta You.”
You guys kicked off your tour last night. How did everything go?
It was good. It was natural, so it was a perfect first day of tour in a place where we all love being. We had a lot of people [from the] label coming out, everybody who recorded Wild & Free came out, you know, everyone from the studio. We had a lot of friends and close work associates there, so it was a good time.
Since it was the first show of the tour, what was kind of the mix of emotions you guys were feeling? Like, more nervous or more excited?
I think, for me, it’s a little bit of nerves. Not really knowing if people are actually going to come and hoping that nothing goes wrong onstage, whether something comes unplugged, or something stops working, or we forget something. I think every show, though, you have those same concerns, but the first show is always the worst. But, luckily we escaped with very little problems last night. We had a good first show.
I know right now you’re only one night in, but how does this tour differ from other tours you’ve been on?
This one’s like a smaller one, you know, it’s our second headlining tour. It’s short, so we’re not gone for that long, but we got to bring out a couple close friends of ours as opening acts, which is cool, Austin Gibbs and a band called Bonaventure. That’s something that we’ve never really gotten to do in the past, bring out just some friends that we wanted to play music [with] together. Usually it doesn’t work out that way, so we’re very fortunate that it did. We got exactly who we wanted to bring out, and that’s always a good thing.
Speaking of your supporting acts; how did you meet Austin Gibbs and Bonaventure, and what made them the right fit for this tour?
Austin has been a friend of ours for years now. I’ve known Austin since the beginning of Rocket, from all the times I’ve spent out in Arizona. He’s always been a close friend of the whole band. We’ve always kind of made the promise that we would tour together, and this one just sort of seemed the perfect fit to bring Austin out.
And then Bonaventure came to us, like a year and a half ago, maybe, from a friend of ours who became their manager. And he was just showing us, casually, like, “Here’s the band I picked up.” And then we really liked them and we actually met them down in Nashville when we were doing our album. They came to the studio, hung out for quite a bit, so we kind of just became friends that way. And then when it came to picking openers, we were like, “What about Bonaventure and Austin?” And it ended up working out that way, so it was cool.
So, you guys just released this new EP, which features songs that are going to be on your upcoming record, Wild & Free. The songs really have this country, yet pop sort of infused vibe about them. Was this direction something that happened organically while you were working in the studio, or was this a direction you guys had already planned to go in?
I’d say a little bit of both. I’d say when Justin [Richards] and I write songs, as of recently, kind of the last year or two, our music, the way that we write it is kind of country-based in a way. Like, we write our normal style, but I think our biggest influence right now is country music. That’s something that Justin and I both love and have a passion for. I think it just kind of shows in our writing style, because we write for our band and we don’t want to write too country, so we up having a little bit of flavor in there, which is cool, and I think it kind of helps set us apart from other bands that are around right now, because we have this pop rock, but a little bit of country flair to our sound. So far, from the EP’s response, it seems like people see it the same way that we see it, so it’s kind of cool. Hoping that when they hear the full-length, they’ll be thinking that a little bit more.
Were there certain country artists that you guys were listening to that brought out the country sound in your music?
Yeah, not even just country, but bands like The Eagles and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. They’re not country bands, really, but we wanted that good ol’ rock-n-roll feel, almost that southern rock kind vibe to this album. And then we listen to all kinds of country from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash to like modern stuff like Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, and Rascal Flatts. So, I think it was a little bit of country songwriting/storytelling is what we really took from country and kind of put into our current writing style. I think it was a cool little mixture.
Since you guys already had one full-length album under your belt with On Your Side, did the writing and recording process come a little bit easier with Wild & Free?
The first one, we were kind of excited to just put out an album. We hadn’t done anything. So, we just kind of rushed it. It came out great and we’re all very happy with On Your Side, but with Wild & Free, we had a lot more time to focus and write, and we had a lot more time to record it.
I think the first one was a little more stressful, maybe, and Wild & Free was a bit more relaxed. But I wouldn’t really say that either one was easier, I think they both were the same, but I think we were trying to set ourselves apart with this new one and coming out with kind of like a new version of our band with this new album. So, we were particular with what we were coming out with, you know?
Definitely. I went back and listened to On Your Side, and I think there’s a lot of growth to be found with the songs on That Old Feeling. As a music fan, I think it’s great when a band takes a risk with their sound and doesn’t just aim to make the same record over and over and over again.
Yeah, it’s good. I mean, we wanted to make a change, but not change too much to where it’s a whole different band, but I think a gradual growth is always a good thing with music. I think people would get kind of sick of listening to the same album over and over and over again, if you keep coming out with the same album, you know? Which, in some cases it works, depending on your band, but I think for the most part, I feel like a lot of people want a little bit of growth. It’s kind of cool seeing a band change a little bit.
You guys teamed with producer Mark Bright to work on this record. How did working with Mark come about and how was the experience working with him?
Mark actually heard a song that Justin and I wrote with our friend, and he allowed him to hear a demo. And this is before we met Mark or even knew of him. He contacted the head of our label saying, “I heard this song, and I want to hear more from these guys.” So, we ended up giving him more demos that we wrote. Once we got together, we were in Nashville meeting him, and we fell in love with him. He’s a great guy. The connection we had when we first met him was this crazy awesome, like we felt like we had known each other for years kind of feeling.
The whole experience in the studio was awesome, because he’s an older guy and it was like having an older mentor in the room and guiding us in the way we needed to write, like proper ways to go with certain songs and different parts. The guy’s just a genius, anyways. He’s [done] fantastic albums, and going with him was just an amazing experience for us, in general.
With your new EP, how did you decide that these were the four songs you wanted to feature and build momentum for Wild & Free with?
All the songs go together, but if you listen to them individually, they’re all pretty diverse from one another. They all have their own sound. That’s kind of how Wild & Free is. There’s some country-ish songs and there’s more old sounding rockin’ songs, and there’s more classic rock-n-roll songs, so we kind of wanted to pick a song from each one of those classes that we have on the album.
I think we have the pop, fun, summery song with “Whole Lotta You,” then the classic rock song, like “You’re My Song,” and then “Going Out,” is like kind of a ‘lil country rocker, in a way, and then “First Kiss” is sort of like that all-country, Taylor Swift kind of vibe. I think they take a little bit of everything off the new album and show people this is what the new stuff is going to sound like.
You guys just released the video for your single, “Whole Lotta You.” How did you guys decide that was the song you wanted to lead off the new album with?
Our first single from our last album was just like a slower, ballad kind of song, and we wanted to do the opposite of that for our first single off of this album. So, we went in and did “Whole Lotta You” in the studio, and it ended up being just kind of like the perfect song that we wanted to reintroduce to the radio crowd with. It just felt like the right song to go with the whole vibe.
Making the video was a lot of fun too, because we wanted to just put that whole Wild & Free feeling into the video and almost reintroduce ourselves as A Rocket To The Moon, and this is what we look and sound like now in 2012.
Who came up with the treatment of the video for “Whole Lotta You” and how was the overall shoot for you guys?
The director that did it, his name is Mark Staubach, He did our “Mr. Right” video that we did a couple years ago. The treatment was perfect, because it was kind of exactly what we wanted. We wanted just a very free feeling, running around, hanging around with friends kind of thing. No real storyline to follow; just something very easy to watch.
The overall shooting of [the video] was amazing. We did it back in Nashville. It was like a hot two days in Nashville, just beautiful weather and beautiful environment, hanging out with friends, just kind of being real and not really acting or anything. Just hanging out, for the most part. It just kind of came across as a real warm, friendly video. I think it’s exactly what we wanted to go for.
After this current tour wraps up, what are you guys going to be up to prior to the release of Wild & Free?
We’re going to take November a little bit slow; maybe a college show or two. December, we’re going to be doing a handful of different Christmas shows for radio stations throughout the country. And then get started all over again when the album comes out, with touring and all that stuff.
A Rocket To The Moon’s new EP, That Old Feeling is available now. Their forthcoming record, Wild & Free, is set to be released in early 2013. For more information about the band, check out their official website.
That Old Feeling Tour Dates
October 23 - Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
October 24 - Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
October 26 - Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
October 27 - West Chester, PA – The Note
October 28 - Vienna, VA – Jammin Java Music Club & Cafe
October 30 - New York, NY – The Studio at Webster Hall
October 31 - Pawtucket, RI – The Met
Photo courtesy of Fueled By Ramen.