Exclusive Interview With The Rocket Summer's Bryce Avary

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On the morning of The Rocket Summer's latest release, Bryce Avary stopped by to play some songs in celebration of his long-awaited album, 'Of Men and Angels,' which currently holds the No. 1 spot on iTunes.

The singer and multi-instrumentalist, set to tour with OneRepublic in March, treated the New York staff to an intimate performance of the new tune 'I Want Something to Live For,' a cover of the Beatles' classic 'Blackbird,' the track 'Do You Feel' from his last record, as well as his current single, the beautiful, piano-driven 'Walls.'

We sat down with Bryce, for a candid chat about his big day, some super famous fans, Nick Jonas and Taylor Lautner, guilty pleasures, and just how much his new music means to him.

What are you going to do to celebrate the release of 'Of Men and Angels'?

Well, I did a dance this morning already. It's pretty jam-packed today. I know we're probably going to go to Best Buy and buy the album. This is the first thing of the day. I woke up so long ago, but for some reason – I don't know if it's the [rainy] weather or what -- I feel like it's totally morning, you know. I mean, I guess it is [still] morning. Maybe I'll just keep dancing.

We hear Nick Jonas is a big fan of your music.

He was really nice [when we met]. I kind of feel like it was some weird, fateful moment, just 'cause ... when does that happen? Me and him -- no one else -- at the concession stand [at a movie theater]. I said, "You're Nick Jonas, right?" and he was like, "Yeah." I said, "I have this band called the Rocket Summer," and he said, "Oh my gosh, I'm a big fan!" He hugged me, and he was like, "I'd love to work with you some time." We exchanged numbers and texted a little bit. We don't really talk too much, but it was cool. I was actually going to see 'Twilight' ['New Moon'], which was funny because pretty much the main reason I was going to see 'Twilight' was because Taylor Lautner is a big Rocket Summer fan, and he's talked about it in interviews and stuff. So it was just this really surreal moment.
I'm sitting there talking to Nick Jonas, and then I'm going to see Taylor Lautner – this kind of younger generation of people that sort of at least like my music or something. I don't know if I would say that it's hugely influential or whatever, you'd have to ask them, but they do like it.

For those who have never listened to your music, what is one Rocket Summer song that represents you the best, that you'd like them to hear?

That's kind of a difficult question to answer, just 'cause I put my all into every song. There's really no one particular song that's like, 'That sums me up.' But maybe: There's a song called 'Nothing Matters' that I wrote on this new album, that I wrote and I recorded in a 24-hour period, and that was it. It's crazy. I'd never done that, and it came out of just some real inspiration. I'd had a really hard day in the studio, and outside there was a guy, a homeless guy. He started crying when we heard him just talk, and it just kind of put things in perspective. I just went in and immediately wrote this song, and the lyrics are, "I know it's not too sexy that I'm singing about the blessings we get when we give up ourselves for something good," and then it goes on to talk about how nothing matters but love, essentially, and what we offer.

Are there any artists that people might be surprised to know that you like?

I'm a fan of original music, you know. I'm a fan of talent and honesty. But I'm trying to think if there's one guilty pleasure I have. It's weird -- that Ke$ha song ['Tik Tok'] -- I hate it, and I kind of love it at the same time. I hate it. I hate it. Like, I want to strangle it, but I kind of want to hear it at the same time.

What is the biggest compliment that you've ever received?

We've received some serious stories about how somehow my music affected someone in some gigantic way. I just acquaint that to [the belief that] God works through everything -- especially, I think, music. So I don't take credit for that. But I wrote a song called 'The Fight,' just kind of about the struggles I've had in the past year. We don't really need to get into it. But this guy at one of our shows showed up with his family. He was probably in his early 20s, and he was in a wheelchair and he only had one leg. Something about it looked like it wasn't terribly normal for him, like it seemed recent. He was like, "Just four weeks ago, I was in a boating accident, and I lost my leg. The song 'The Fight' has kept me and my family going every day." Just stuff like that, you know? That's pretty huge and kind of puts everything into perspective when having doubts, which can happen.

How do you prefer to listen to music?

I love buying a record physically and then driving around, listening to it. Sometimes I'll just sit in this little record room in my house, and I'll just sit, put on a CD and listen to music.

What's the story behind your single, 'Walls'?

That song is kind of about struggles and about having issues in your life that you just can't seem to quote get a grip on, whether that's depression or whether that's anything. Just something isn't right, you know, and it stays that way. You try all these things, and you pray and you still find yourself in this rut. And [it's about] the importance of people and relationships, and how powerful that is. It's just kind of about how all of that feels. I'm really proud of that song.

And what's the story behind the title track of the album, 'Of Men and Angels'?

It's a really spiritually charged song. The title actually comes from a Bible verse ... that just really hit me in the last year. I'm kind of a workaholic, I just kind of realized ... there's lyrics, "Working every day, I'm afraid I forgot to show what's most important, which is love." And the chorus is, "Here I am, dear Lord, tasting hints of fame, and I don't want it anymore if it's not you that I gain." It's just talking about how it's not worth it, if it's screwing up the peace in my life, and the harmony that I have. I'm obviously a very spiritual person, and following Christ is a huge, huge thing in my life -- it's where I find my refuge. It's funny, though, because we've never really been a Christian band, and we kind of prefer it that way. It's a big part of my life, it's a big part of my music [but] I'll sing about other things.

What do you think it is about your music that really speaks to younger fans?

It's really weird because to me, the last thing I ever thought was, "I'm gonna write songs that are gonna connect to teenagers," especially because I kind of write about sort of heavy subjects. It's sort of interesting to me because I definitely don't write about, like, trying to go on a date with a girl, you know? I honestly think it's because of the fact that we tour heavily in the scene [of] Warped Tour land, with Hellogoodbye in their heyday, and Reliant K and Academy Is... and stuff like that. I think we just gained tons of younger fans. This album, we're actually doing some different touring. We're trying to hit everything because I've always thought that this music was for everyone -- especially, if anything, this record. It's definitely not a "young" record. But maybe the earlier songs, songs like 'Brat Pack' -- naturally, those kinds of songs, the back catalog, is what started that. But I think the fans are growing with me.

What one piece of advice will you give your kids one day?

There's a lot of advice. I don't think I could really give one bit of advice. I think it would be to [know that] integrity is really important, and just follow your heart. It's kind of what I've always done.


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