Interview: Wild Rocket
Dublin's Wild Rocket will be crash-landing their heavy psych and kraut-infused space punk at Nice'n'Sleazy on Saturday 5th May, alongside local chaos mongers Acid Cannibals and Dead Otter. Ahead of their no doubt bone-shaking performance at Nice'n'Sleazy we quizzed them about the Irish psych scene, songwriting, some of their favourite artists and what the future holds..
NnS: Damn it Wild Rocket, we've had some excellent space rock bands the last few years. Not a whole heap come through our towns sporting Irish accents though. Can you tell us a bit about where you all come from in terms of sonic / performance background and perhaps elaborate on what the scenes are like where you are from?
We got together in 2011 having all played in various bands and scenes over the years. Given that Ireland isn’t the biggest place in the world, Moose did a good job of assembling the other three of us from different underground/punk musical backgrounds. A variety of influences has probably done us no harm. Of the two lads from Dublin, Niall O played guitar in Council of Tanith - an old school doom metal band - and Jon Kelly played bass in Puget Sound - a punk rock/ska band that broke up in 2006, they would have toured Brazil as teenagers and stuff. Niall also played bass in grindcore band Sickener and Jon played in a hardcore band called Sort it Out, as well as driving many touring bands around. Moose came to Dublin from Donegal in the northwest of the country, having played in a punk rock band up there by the name of Zafaranchos. He also played bass in punk band New Gods, garage pop band Retarded Cop and various instruments in Wolfbait, who have evolved into Worst and are still working away on their unique brand of neggy kraut/punk. He also does the odd noise stuff under his own name and as part of the duo BB84. Bres came to Dublin from Ballina on the west coast, an oft toured-through wee town that continues to have a solid punx scene. He plays drums in a few noise rock bands, namely Hands up who wants to Die, Chirps, Oilbag and Nippons and now occasionally deputises with a couple of London punk/noise bands like USA Nails and Sweet Williams. At the start, we would have been hanging around and jamming at the Karate Club a lot, a legendary punk practice space/social centre that is still going strong in north Dublin city. We were then in the Jam Jar for many years, home of bands more on the metal/noise end of the DIY spectrum. The last few years we’ve been members of a space we’ve built and set up ourselves with a few other bands.
NnS: Wild Rocket are lucky enough to have in the bass department a true hero of the boutique fx pedal underground. How do the pedals and fx influence the musical content and do you think the best music comes from a place of soundcraft worship these days, rather than the the celebration of songwriting in a more traditional sense?
Good question, it’s fair to say that there’s been a degree of evolution in our approach to writing. It’s always been riff-focussed but at the start - when we were getting to know each other musically and becoming friends - there was probably more of an emphasis on traditional songwriting and sharing songs from other bands we were into. These days we’re a bit more focussed on building sets, shifting moods sonically and getting into grooves. We’ve become a bit more comfortable as players so there’s more room for dynamics, simplification, improvisation, repetition etc etc etc. I’d say the effects enhance the riffs and music rather than influence it. No amount of cool effects will make crap music good. It’s definitely still really cool having access to loads of effects and the ability to customize stuff for our needs opens new sonic possibilities but yeah gotta have the riffs first or it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
NnS: I believe it was The Muscle himself, Russel from Girl Sweat, who said recently in a social media post that going to see Hawkwind in 2018 'isn't about seeing Space Ritual recreated on stage in all it's trippy glory, because you can go see yr mates band do that better than Hawkwind could and be trippy in a modern context'. On that note, how oversaturated do you feel the psychedelic musical movement of the last few years or so has become with seemingly every town having a psychfest? What are the shining lights?
Because Ireland is what some people might call a ‘smaller market’, a sizeable and coherent pysch ‘scene’ hasn’t really emerged. With the oversaturation you’ve mentioned, it seems that’s probably a good thing. That said, we’ve played a couple of smaller psych festivals over here the last few years, one in Moose’s home town of Letterkenny and one in Dublin. We shared those bills with bands coming from different traditions that wouldn’t necessarily identify as psych bands per se. Two examples that come to mind from the Reverberation fest in Dublin were Cian Nugent & The Cosmos coming at it from an americana/composition/folky angle and Twin Kranes coming from a more kraut/garage/techno milieu. Really great bands making trippy music in different ways. That fest was also the first time we played with your local heroes The Cosmic Dead. Good times!
So while it’s probably safe to say that there’s been an upsurge in psych bands over here, maybe it’s a little less contrived. Other top proponents in Ireland would include some bands from our practice space like No Spill Blood, Crowhammer, The Jimmy Cake. Also solo synthist Magic Pockets, Altered Hours, Percolator, Tuath, Woven Skull, Hawkbastard, Deborah to a name a few of our favourite Irish acts in the realm of psychedelia.
A couple of us seen Hawkwind in Portugal a few years ago and it was one of the funnest/funniest experiences ever but that that was mostly due to the enhancements on offer rather than the Window 95 hash leaf graphics they had during Hassan I Sahba. Bardo Pond were the real psychedelic experience of that weekend. No enhancement necessary there. Closer to home we’d highly recommend seeing Terminal Cheesecake for the real deal psychedelic experience.
NnS: What do you believe it is that set Wild Rocket apart from the rest of them?
We’re different people with different ideas about music but we all come from, and are still part of, a diy heavy music underground giving us a harder edge than a lot of “pysch” bands out there. In essence this band is our reality tunnel and no one else has the same collective reality as we do. We also have the best pedals and the biggest riffs of course. Hahaha
NnS: Do tell me, what does the future hold for Wild Rocket?
The future holds more musical explorations with the band expanding for at least a few dates with a couple of our favourite musicians/people joining us. More writing and recording and more gigs in and outside of Ireland. Keep getting closer and closer to the cosmic truth.
Answers shared between Bres and Moose.