Quick Chord 1/27: Harrisburg, Lansdale, Milford and Scranton residents meet at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and form “sad punk” band Bottle Rocket
Bottle Rocket’s newest EP, “Post Script,” begins with a voice mail that was never sent.
“I was going to leave it for someone and I never actually left it,” Bottle Rocket vocalist Arthur Collier said. “Instead I sent it to Brian (Parry, guitar) and said I wanted to put it on the EP somewhere. The EP is about saying things to people I didn’t get to say; it’s my PS to everyone that was in my life.”
Collier, Parry, drummer Morgan Matyjevich, or Scranton, and bassist Dave Larson recorded “Post Script” over the span of a month at their college, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. They described their previous recording experience as “an in-and-out weekend sort of deal,” but this time the four Pennsylvanian 20-somethings wanted to craft a cohesive body of songs that meshed tonally and showed the progression they’ve made individually and as a unit.
“When I was writing drums for the last EP I kept it simple because I had never played with a band before; I was nervous to do too much difficult stuff,” Matyjevich said. “With this EP I kind of challenged myself more and the drum parts show it in some of the songs.”
Matyjevich was the first person Parry turned to when his previous project was on its last legs. The two then recruited Collier, whom they knew from attending local shows, and rounded out their lineup with Larson soon after. The quartet calls the music they make together “sad punk,” and with influences ranging from The Front Bottoms, The Summer Set and American Football to the smooth sounds of jazz, that term is an apt description. Even their namesake, the feature film directorial debut of Wes Anderson, is full of affable characters taking more than their fair share of punches.
“We’ve called it sad punk just because of how it sounds,” Parry said. “It’s pretty upbeat but at the same time the lyrics are down to earth and about real subjects.”
The band’s writing process is indicative of artistic collaboration in the modern era. Parry will create a guitar riff and send it to his bandmates over Facebook, then the four will use that riff as a thesis from which to brainstorm the elements that will surround it and form a song. The finished products can be found at Bottle Rocket’s BandCamp page (bottlerocketofficial.bandcamp.com), but when the group performs live they tend to deviate from their arrangements.
“I would say our live show is a lot more raw,” Larson said. “On the studio recordings Arthur doesn’t scream as much and I definitely pay less attention to hitting individual strings.”
“I’ll sing differently, Brian will do things differently… I’d say it’s a different show every time,” Collier added. “We like to have fun with it and shake things up a bit. We don’t try to stick to just playing the exact song.”
Bottle Rocket has played bars, basements and house parties from Philadelphia to Scranton to New York. Their next area show is Feb. 27 at Whitehall venue, Planet Trog (three miles north of Lehigh Valley Mall), with Providence, Rhode Island’s Trophy Wives. Fans of punk rock music and of being sad can get tickets for $10 from TicketFly.com.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts