Hello Helena. It's cool talking to you, especially since your band and I are neighbors here in central New Jersey. When I first heard the name of your band, I couldn't help but wonder if you sounded more like David Bowie's Spiders From Mars or Rockets from the Crypt. Introduce yourself and your bandmates and talk about your sound.
I don't think we sound like either of those bands (laughing), but your comparison sounds pretty cool. I'm Helena, the vocalist, and I'm originally from northern California. Bones, the bass guitarist, is from southern California. Our drummer, Dan, and our lead guitarist, Johnny, are both from New Jersey. Bonesy is from a military family that moved around a lot. They ended up here. Me, I did the rebellious thing of moving as far as possible away after I graduated from school. As a band, we have very varied influences: Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Disturbed, and Godsmack. Individually, we all have our bands and musicians that inspired us as musicians. For me, it changes all the time, but somebody who has always been there as an influence on me is Axl Rose. He's got a vibrant personality to go with incredible talent. John's really into Godsmack, but he watches old DVDs from classic bands. He's wearing out the copy of his Led Zeppelin DVD, and Jimmy Page would have to be called one of his major influences. Dan's drumming influences are Lars Ulrich, Gene Hogland, Dave Lombardo, Vinnie Paul, and Jason Rullo. Bones was influenced by legends like James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius, and more current bassists like Les Claypool from Primus. Music fans can hear our sound at our MySpace page, www.myspace.com/spiderrockets, and at our website, www.spiderrockets.com. I'd describe our sound as loud, aggressive rock with our metal, punk, and jazz influence tossed in. We're not a traditional loud rock band, and we're hard to compartmentalize. That works for us and against us as well.
Spider Rockets' latest record is called "Ever After." Tell me all about it.
It was originally released in 2006 on Halloween. We were signed to Screaming Ferret Wreckords back then, and the philosophy was the slow process of using this CD as a tool to bring up the next CD. That approach is fine because we want to work hard, do everything we can while doing it the right way, and we don't take any shortcuts. The record was available at the label's website, and we did shows up and down the East Coast and a little in the Midwest. When Screaming Ferret got national distribution this summer through Ryko, they took us on as well for national distribution, and we're also hoping to get European distribution through Locomotive Records. Part of the process between artist and label is trust-building. We've done everything we've been asked to do and have promised to do. I think they believe in us because we're true to what we say. The band Lillian Axe is also on Screaming Ferret/Metro City Records. We reached out to them and talked about joining up with them on part of their fall tour. We're lucky that they agreed to take us on, and we're so excited. As far as our record "Ever After," fans can hear song clips from four different songs at our MySpace page: "Something More," "Simple," "So High," and "Too Far." Our website is up, but a few elements still need to be added. We should have additional clips there when we finally get the whole page going. Our publicist, Chipster Entertainment, is working to get our music added at some Internet radio stations as well. Retail shoppers can go to Virgin Records in New York City or Jack's Music in Red Bank or visit Amazon, CD Universe, or Best Buy online. Our producer, Martin Bisi, who's worked with Dresden Dolls and Sonic Youth, is very eclectic. He's influenced us by steering away from the norm. He opens us up to playing parts of our music in a different way than we would have thought of doing it.
Since Spider Rockets is not a brand new band and "Ever After" is not your first record, let's talk about evolution. How has the band evolved in the ever-changing musical landscape in the 21st century?
As a songwriter today, I have more of a precise sense of what I'm looking for. Before, it was more general. I was just writing the song. I'm able to hone in and know what I'm going after as far as the emotion I'm trying to get through and the feelings that I want to squeeze out of my songs. There is always so much more to learn. Our drummer and bass guitarist are fairly new. Over the last year, we've jelled together really well. We feed off each other. "Ever After" is more edgy and left of center in some ways than our previous record, "Flipped Off." That was more traditional hard rock. "Ever After" was both challenging to make as well as to get heard. It's always a fight, but if you believe in what you're doing and keep pressing forward, things will go your way. I believe that anything worth doing shouldn't come easy and it certainly hasn't. But it's been a great ride. You're so right Dave about the ever-changing industry. I'm not a techno-geek, but our guitarist Johnny reads about equipment and he keeps up. He loves it. For me, it's more about songwriting and performance. Writing a great song is not about having great gear and recording equipment. MySpace wasn't around when Spider Rockets started. It's been a great thing for us. It makes the world smaller and that's an awesome thing. Satellite radio is cool, even though we're not on any stations yet. As we drive around, listening to satellite radio exposes us as listeners to many bands we'd never hear on terrestrial radio, especially more extreme metal bands.
What should fans expect from Spider Rockets at a live performance?
We originally started as a two-piece band, and we must have played every bar in New Jersey. After changing into a four-piece we started concentrating on original material. We play out of state a lot, and the fans seem to embrace us because we've come so far to play instead of expecting a "New Jersey sound" like Springsteen or Bon Jovi. Bands like Skid Row and Symphony X have proven that you don't have to take that musical direction. We're playing in a lot of new cities for us on the tour with Lillian Axe. We'll be out mid-September through mid-October. Fans can expect a loud, edgy, and angry band with some non-traditional elements. We've yet to capture what we do live in the studio. That's arguably the next challenge for Spider Rockets. As far as the tour goes, we're so excited and we can't wait to meet all the people as we travel all over the country. We've been uber-underground for a long time. It'll be tremendous that music fans around the country can finally experience us and that we'll get to experience them. We're really looking forward to the tour.
My interview hopes to introduce your band to some new fans. What can your existing fans expect after the tour as we head into 2008?
In 2008, we'll be recording the new CD that we're busy writing as we speak. We also hope there'll be an opportunity for us to tour in Europe. Our existing fans, or new fans, can also check out a video we put up at our MySpace page. It's for the song "Something More." It's certainly not a million-dollar high-quality video, but you can certainly watch it and get a feel for what Spider Rockets is all about. Our website is being re-adjusted and updated as I mentioned before. We have t-shirts, stickers, baseball caps, and all of our other CDs are available at our website.
Please share your thoughts on the senseless murder of Dimebag Darrell.
To be honest, I started listening to Pantera after Dime's death. Dimebag's murder seemed surreal and incredible in the most aweful way possible. Music at its best is incredibly moving emotionally---we music freaks can attest to that and, sure, we are all crazy in our own way. But there is never an excuse for violence to each other---ever. My bandmates wanted to share their thoughts if that's okay. Bones said that Dime's death was a terrible tragedy and that it was devastating because so many people were influenced by him. Our drummer Dan also just got into Pantera about three years ago. He added that Vinny Paul quickly became one of his favorite drummers because of his groove and because he is so solid. Our guitarist John said that Pantera has been a huge influence on the metal scene. The band's feel is 100% metal. What's really cool about them is that back in the 90's, they held their ground. Metal was not "in," but they never sold out or backed down.