After reaching the top of the Billboard Rock Charts with his previous albums “Do You Feel”, “Of Men And Angels”, and the self-released “Life Will Write The Words”, The Rocket Summer‘s sixth album “Zoetic”, released in February 2016, marked a creative milestone for Texas-born songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bryce Avary. Fast forwarding to today, Avary is back on the road for his “Do You Feel” 10-year anniversary tour, where he’s revisiting his past hits, while intertwining some of his latest work. Be sure to have a listen to his most recent single “Gone Too Long“, released in early July, embedded below.
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Sean Ritchie: Lets start off with your hometown area of Dallas/Fort Worth [Metroplex]. Tell us a little bit about the culture and atmosphere. What makes it special and home to you? What’s one sight you would suggest a first-time visitor to see?
Bryce Avary: I think what makes DFW home to me is just the fact that my family is there. I was born and raised there. It’s real country. It’s real “Dallas Cowboys” in cowboy hats. But, because of that, everyone is kind of expected to be a football player. I would do that too. I was a running back. I was the smallest kid on the team. [Eventually], because of that I really ran towards music. Anywhere where there’s really a kind of strict, cultural scene there’s generally an uprising against it. Because of that, there are a lot of people making music. There’s a lot of people coming out of the backwoods with guitars, dying their hair green. So, there’s a lot of cool bands that happened out of Dallas. Older bands like Tripping Daisy really helped pave the way for a lot of us.
It’s a really great place that’s grown a lot. There’s an amazing art scene there, as well. If you really want to experience the country scene though I would say visit the stock yards in Fort Worth. That’s a pretty particular scene out there. The whole area is pretty historic. There’s good Mexican food and bars. It’s very “cowboy country”.
SR: That’s pretty cool to hear. To switch gears into your music, what first gave you your exposure to and interest in music? I know you just said it was kind of a counterbalance to football, but was it something that came from within your family?
BA: No, not really. No one in my family is musical. I don’t even understand how it happened. We all kind of don’t get it. My parents didn’t listen to a whole lot of music, but they did listen to the oldies when we were on the way to school. So, the first stuff I was hearing was Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys. Things like that. Just old, classic songs.
Then, when I got to middle school, I met some kids that skated. My friend introduced me to Nirvana and Weezer. We got real into subcultural bands of that era. We learned power chords and how to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The rest is kind of history. It all kind of just spurred from there.
SR: That’s the kind of music I grew up listening to. Now, on a broader level, how does music and travel fit together. Obviously, you’re always on the road touring, but how do the two fit together and go hand-in-hand?
BA: Yeah, we are in a different place every single day. We travel, that’s largely what we do. A lot of times there’s not enough time. I feel like I’ve been everywhere, but the things that I really remember are if the bathroom in the club had an actual stall door or not. We don’t get a whole lot of free time, but when we do we really try to soak it up. We had a day off in Biloxi, Mississippi the other day and we all went jet skiing. That was just incredible.
When we tour overseas we really try and travel a lot more. The older I get the more I’m not really into touristy things. I like to go find a park and just sit, maybe look at people. I think it’s because we tour so much that I try and stay away from touristy things. I just want to go wherever a cool coffee shop is. I want to do what people who live there actually do. Going to see the Mona Lisa is pretty cool, but there’s something about being in a packed room with a bunch of sweaty people with their kids crying that isn’t the most appealing. We’ve been fortunate to see a lot though, but there’s still a lot that we have to see.
SR: Fantastic! So, when you do have some downtime and are looking to get away, are you more of a beach dude, more mountains or are you looking for a city?
BA: I spend most of my life in downtowns across the world, so when I do get a vacation I’m a big beach guy. I love to attempt to surf, though I’m not very good at it. That kind of life is the life I love. I lived in Los Angeles the last four years, but right now I’m on a ranch in Texas in the middle of nowhere. I’m on that scene right now. When I was younger I never thought I’d be like that, because I just wanted to be moving at all times. I still do like it. My happy place is playing crazy rock shows every night and being in a bus that’s moving to the next one, but at some point you just have to rest your voice and chill. There’s something cool though about being in a melting pot of a city with people from all walks of life. There’s a lot of inspiration to draw from. I never say never to anything. I like to just experience it all.
SR: For sure, I can imagine that you want to chill and cherish your downtime. You just said that your favorite thing to do is perform every night, and that ties into what you’re doing now on your “Do You Feel” 10-year anniversary tour. First, talk about how crazy it is that it’s 10 years. And second, how has the experience has been for you?
BA: It’s been really cool to revisit these songs. I’m kind of perpetually in the state of always moving forward and always creating new music, so this has been kind of a weird to have to re-learn songs I wrote a long time ago. I have to say that there’s something about these songs that feel pretty timeless, at least it seems like that. Everyone’s singing within these four walls every night. It’s been a really cool thing to see these people belting these songs. But, we also play a whole second set every night. We spend just as much time playing songs that aren’t on “Do You Feel”.
BA: Yeah! I can’t stop man. My stage manager pretty much has to pull me off, just because he knows at some point it will catch up with my body. I’d play all night if I could. I feel like it’s just the beginning though. To me, the weirdest thing is when you hear people say, “Ah, it’s been so long!” It’s like, “Dude, I’m in my 30’s. I have a long way to go.” For me it’s just the beginning.
SR: That’s great to hear that your so passionate about your craft, and that you don’t see any end in sight. One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling. I think music has a lot of parallels with that, because you’re constantly bringing people together in one location — people from all walks of life. Talk to how special it is to be a driving force in bringing people together in a happy setting.
BA: It’s unbelievable. Sometimes that’s what motivates to drive myself into the ground musically. I keep doing it, because I’m addicted to seeing people come alive to music. Seeing people from all walks of life and beliefs coming together is just special. Knowing that people from all over attach their own experiences to these songs is a pretty unbelievable thing. There might be people in the room that in a discussion might be at odds with each other, but the songs unite everyone. Everyone just lives in that moment. I have to tell you, if you’re lucky enough to get your songs out there, it’s near impossible to not fight for them until you’re pretty much in the hospital. I’ll fight for mine until I can’t sing anymore.
SR: I love the passion! So, lastly to wrap this up, I love to ask people that are well traveled if they have two or three destinations that they haven’t been to yet, but still want to hit. What are a couple on your list that you still have to get to?
BA: We’ve played a lot of places: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Europe and Canada. We still have yet to play South America. I know we have a big fan base in Brazil. I think every band has a big fan base in Brazil though. It’s that or they have 30 people that are really active on social media. I’d also really like to go to Iceland. I’ve been to Japan — my favorite place. So, I could not go there enough. It’s been way too long. Japan is probably my favorite place. The people are so humble and they work really hard. It’s just a good scene out there.