Interview with Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer

The Rocket Summer spent the last month of the summer traveling the country celebrating the 10th anniversary of their iconic album Do You Feel. The band has been playing massive sets each night, playing through the entirety of the album on top of at least 10 bonus songs off newer releases. Based on what we saw in Boston, this tour has served as a not only reflection on not The Rocket Summer’s past, but as a celebration of the community music has brought together and the power of that community.

Bryce Avary, the mastermind behind The Rocket Summer, made a point of sharing  with fans that Do You Feel is so important to him because it’s the record that brought a lot of The Rocket Summer’s fans into this scene. He then called on fans to use their community to make a positive change in the world by donating to the Child Fund, who he brought on tour to raise money to combat child poverty.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Avary himself before he took the stage at Boston’s Brighton Music Hall. Check out the interview below and check out photos from the show here

The Daily Slice: Where’s the best place to grab a slice of pizza in your hometown in Texas?

Bryce Avary: Oh my gosh, what a wonderful question. I kind of live in a couple of different places. I sort of live like I’m 20 years old. I don’t really know where I live. The last few years, I’ve lived in LA, and right now I’m on a ranch in Texas renting a cabin trying to write songs, and it’s near Bowie. and we just ordered pizza from this place when we were rehearsing thinking it was going to be terrible, and it wound up being really, really good. I think it’s called La Bella, it’s really good. And then in LA, I was near Studio City and there’s this really good place called MidiCi that makes really good margarita pizza.

TDS: How’s the tour been so far? How are people responding to this big celebration of the 10th anniversary of the album?

BA: It’s been incredible. It’s just been explosions of stoked vibes every night. Every show has been packed or sold out. It’s been really cool to see these songs come alive, and see people connect with them. Not only are we playing the record, but we’re playing a whole additional set of songs off our other albums. So we play just as long of a set of songs that aren’t Do You Feel songs. So the whole night is a celebration of the whole community and where we’ve gotten and where we’re going, because there’s a lot more to come.

TDS: What’s it like to revisit some of these songs that may have been retired from your set as you released new music?

BA: It’s definitely interesting to go back. I’m sort of always looking forward, and that to me is probably the only thing about the tour that’s kind of a drag, just because I’m never looking back, I’m always looking forward. But as soon as we started playing shows and seeing everyone sing along, it was like oh, okay, this is why we’re doing this. But it’s been cool, and I think a lot of these songs still hold up. A lot of the songs I would still play today even if it wasn’t the Do You Feel tour and feel totally okay about it. There might be one song that’s filed under 2007, “High Life Scenery,” but it’s cool. We never played that one ever, so this tour is the first time we ever played that song. There’s a pretty difficult piano solo in it that’s kind of fun for me to tackle every night.

TDS: Were there any songs in particular that you were excited to revisit for this tour?

BA: Yeah, there’s a song called “Run To You,” which I still feel would be a song I could write today and feel okay about it. But I did this thing where I put it through a different filter. I play it on guitar and I do some vocal beatboxing over it, and that to me is one of my favorite moments in the set, just because it’s really steering away from the original, but it’s still the original.

TDS: Are you changing up the style to of any other songs to incorporate any new developments you’ve made over the last 10 years in the set?

BA: We do drum jams, and vocal loops, and beatboxing. We do a lot of new songs, so it’s definitely not your standard 10 year anniversary tour where we play the album and then a couple of songs. It’s very much a current Rocket Summer tour, we just happen to be playing a few more songs off Do You Feel.

TDS: Looking back on these songs and featuring them in such a deliberate way, is there anything you would do differently if you were recording Do You Feel today?

BA: Maybe. I mean, it’s a great recording and I am proud of it. It was weird. The recording process was really unique. We spent 6 weeks recording guitars, and the guy co-producing it, his main imprint on the record was having me double the guitars and make them sound perfectly in tune. There were a lot of songs where we were punching every few chords, and it was very technical. And then we’d record the vocals in maybe two or three days. It was really fast how we did the vocals. So, maybe I would have put a little more effort into the vocals. But at the same time, I think it sounds fine, you know? You can totally overthink that stuff to death, and generally the first few takes are the best anyway.

TDS: How does it feel to be out on this tour and see so many people at these sold-out shows still connecting to this album that’s persisted through the last decade?

BA: It’s really cool. It’s a really special thing to get to have an album like that. I think what’s cool for me is that once we finish these songs, we get into newer songs and everyone sings those too. It’s definitely cool to celebrate this album, but really more than anything we’re celebrating our community and how this album helped largely to bring a lot of people into that community. You’ve got to come to the show and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

TDS: Bringing this full circle with the pizza theme, if The Rocket Summer was a pizza special at a pizza shop, what would it be?

BA: I don’t eat a lot of pork, but when it comes to pizza, I pretty much lose all of my health morals. It’s generally pepperoni, jalapeños, and basil. Definitely has to have basil, crushed red peppers. And you know, I’m that guy, I’ve got my side of Ranch there, I know it’s sacrilegious, but man, it’s nice to dip every once in a while.

TDS: That’s all the questions we have for you, but thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, and good luck on the rest of the tour!

BA: Thanks so much for a fun interview, I’m definitely going to go get pizza after this.

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