An Interview With The Bottle Cap RocketsPart One
By Sad Man’s Tongue
Found a great Rockabilly Band on a new site dedicated solely to Rockabilly and Kustom Kulture called Rockabilly Worldwide.
The band is the Bottle Cap Rockets and their frontman, Al Gross, was also the writer and performer of the song ” “Secret Crush On You,” which is on the soundtrack to the 2004 Academy Award Nominated Movie for best film “Monster.”
So we started talking and made a new friend, as well as heard a great song “Black Eldorado.”
So we are very proud to have a new fan and friend as much as we ourselves are now big fans of Al, Chris and John of the Bottle Cap Rockets. Here is the interview that the guys so graciously did for us.
Al: I came up with the name during a random search on you tube. I stumbled upon a video of a kid demonstrating how to make a bottle cap rocket. It’s basically twisting a small plastic bottle of water until the cap pops off and as the water shoots out of the bottle there is a mist that follows. I know I should probably make up a more interesting story LOL! I just thought it would make a cool name so it stuck and when you google the name pretty much all you will find is us and that kids video
SMT: I read you were founded in 2010, what’s the lead up to the formation of the band?
Al: Well I’ve been a singer songwriter for several years now but I’ve always had a songwriting partner, he’s my closest and longest friend Pete Surdoval. Pete made the decision to get out of the music business and to pursue other more profitable ventures. I decided to start writing again on my own. I ended up writing a number of songs and I really wanted to start playing some shows so I started searching craigslist and another musicians site for players
SMT: Were all of you friends prior to the formation of the band, or how did you know of each other
Al: We didn’t know each other. craigslist.com is the place most musicians go these days to hook up locally
SMT: How long have you been working together on your music career?
Al: I’ve gone through a number of personnel changes in the last two and a half years. Chris joined in Sept. 2011. Johnny has been with us for two months now
SMT: What was the most difficult part in becoming a professional band?
Al: For me it’s been hard holding on to bandmates. Keeping people creatively satisfied is key when you are writing and performing your own music because the money isn’t there (yet anyway). A paying cover band is more of a business and musicians stick with them more often. Then you have personality issues and other things that may lead to a bit of friction. But when the right people are assembled it’s all good
SMT: Al I know you have written songs for Universal Music for use in movies and TV shows including the Academy Award winning film Monster starring Charlize Theron, which is quite an honor and accomplishment. What other songs have been used by Universal?
Al: Well I have written and/or co-written 25 songs with Pete Surdoval that have been purchased by Universal Music for use in anything they choose to place them in. Any given song could show up in a movie, a TV show or even a commercial. They have been in many TV shows that are in syndication and shown around the world
SMT: What was the feeling like when your song was chosen for the movie?
Al: I had visions of quitting my day job, getting rich and moving to a tropical island. It didn’t quite work out that way. But it’s still a great feeling to have my works published. It’s every musician’s dream
SMT: Are all the songs from the band original?
Al: As far as releases go yes they are originals. We do throw in a number of covers to lengthen the set when we perform live. By the way we do have two UNRELEASED songs available for FREE download on our reverbnation.com Bottle Cap Rockets page. Look for “We Never Said Goodye” and “Vegas Wedding Bells” plus you can purchase some of our other songs there too
SMT: Do you do all of the song writing or is it a collaborative effort with the rest of the band
Al: I do all the writing and arranging
SMT: Do you have any funny or embarrassing experiences as a band?
Al: At our last gig I blanked out as we were going into “Teddy Bear” by Elvis and I asked the audience to sing the beginning for me and they did. One has to learn through experience how to turn an embarrassing situation into a lighter moment. When the audience sees that the band does not take itself too seriously then any awkwardness will melt away. That’s show biz.
Chris: one of our ex-drummers was “blanking” on the start of a song. I could see it in his eyes; like a deer in headlights. I began to signal with my bass the tempo of the song. After several moments, which seemed like an eternity, he began to play. The tempo was so slow, it had to be half the speed it was supposed to be. After a few measures, I stopped playing; I wanted to start the song over. Al, guitar/lead singer, kept playing. So, I came back in and we played the entire song in “half time”. It felt like I was playing in slow motion
SMT: You have a new release on I Tunes called “FIRST SEVEN”, what can you tell us about it?
Al: It is our first release and it’s got seven songs. It was done earlier this year at a point when our style was less defined. We were going in a few different directions so some songs on there fall outside of the Rockabilly sound. We recorded the tracks April through May and released it in August of this year. Drums and Bass were recorded in Union New Jersey at Soundwaves Recording Studio and the rest was done at Pete’s home studio in Farmingdale New York
SMT: Is this available as a CD?
Al: No just downloads and streaming for now. You can find the release on iTunes, Cd Baby, Amazon and streaming on Spotify + Mog
SMT: Have there been previous releases?
Al: No others at this time
SMT: If you were to describe your band in a few words, what would they be?
Al: A modern take on a vintage style
Chris: I think the songs have an individualistic stamp on them. Al’s voice doesn’t really sound like others out there and there is a good balance, the tunes sound original yet familiar enough to grab the listeners attention.
Johnny: Folks tend to gravitate towards the style they like. It’s human nature to peg an artist or band to one sound. So mixing pop with more rockabilly styled tunes just doesn’t fit. So we are officially only Roots Rock and Rockabilly
SMT: What is the Rockabilly scene like where you are from in Jersey?
Al: It’s fragmented and a bit of an underground scene if you can call it a scene. You will find 50 Metal bands for every one Rockabilly band. But there are plenty of bars and clubs. The thing is that you have to be accepted into The Rockabilly community to draw a crowd.
Johnny: I can’t say there is one where I grew up. A few Honkey Tonks and Roadhouses in NJ but not close to where I’m from
There was and is now more of a scene in NYC and PA
Pennsylvania is where I can say I got my feet wet doing Hotrod Hoedown’s and Hayrides.There are great players and places to play but not much of a scene. I grew up with a decent punk scene from the mid to late 80′s the mid to late 90′s
There was a great bunch of bands and musicians back then. Look’s like there’s not much of anything happening any more
SMT: Are there any places that you would particularly like to perform at?
Al: Madison Square Garden but we need to find 20,000 fans first ha ha.
Johnny: Any of the local Bike Clubs,Car Shows,Tattoo conventions,local bars or roadhouses
SMT: Are there any places you are proud or excited to have played at and if so why.
Al: I was happy that we got to play Maxwells in Hoboken New Jersey. It’s like the CBGB’s of New Jersey. Legends like Nirvana and The Pixies have played there. And I was glad we got to play Mexicali Live in Teaneck New Jersey. Great sound system and it was nice opening for Eric Lindell a signed national act out of New Orleans
Johnny: Always been proud to play anywhere doing what I love to do.Part of the Pipeline in Newark, shows at The Stone Pony, Maxwells, Wonder Bar, Fastlane, Dirt Club,Mexicali Live,Stanhope House,In NYC Continental,Coney Island High,and Philly like JC Dobbs, Kyber and Trocadero growing up as supporting acts.The bigger rooms are always more fun especially when the scenes were thriving. Just great to be part of it
SMT: Is there anyone who distinctively helped or supported you in getting to where you are now?
Al: My wife Laurel has been very supportive and my good friend Pete engineered and producing our release. And I credit Chris for sticking with me through all we have been through
Chris: My older brother Curt gave me guitar lessons as a kid. My family (4 brothers and 2 sisters) couldn’t afford music lessons for both my brother and I, so, he got the lessons. I hounded him until he would teach me what he learned from his teacher
SMT: Is there a band or artist that you would be interested in collaborating with?
Al: Haven’t really given it any thought. There’s lots of great bands that would be fun to gig or collaborate with
SMT: Have you played in Europe yet, and if not, when do you think you will, after all my bass player friend from Prague does have a sticker of you on his bass?
Al: Your bass player friend from Prague has very good taste in music. We haven’t made it out of New York/New Jersey. But we would gladly come to Europe if someone would pay for our plane ticket and expenses …..hint, hint, wink, wink
SMT: I’ll see what we can do I love the song Black Eldorado, and not because my Dalmatian is called Eldorado. Is there a story behind the song from personal experiences?
Al: Thank You. I love Hot Rods and vintage cars. I had the urge to write a song about a car but it took a while until I came up with just the right title but I think Eldorado works well compared to some of the other names I originally came up with like “My 442″ or ”Don’t Kill My Ride” (another working title)
SMT: Thanks so much guys for taking the time to do this for us
All of you can go to http://www.reverbnation.com/algrossthebottlecaprockets for 2 unreleased tracks and download them for FREE, courtesy of these cool cats.Also this week we will be featuring the rest of the interviews with each individual member of the band so keep a look out.
All of you can go to http://www.reverbnation.com/algrossthebottlecaprockets for 2 unreleased tracks and download them for FREE, courtesy of these cool cats. Also this week we will be featuring the rest of the interviews with each individual member of the band so keep a look out.