In 2008, Bryce Avary‘s solo project The Rocket Summer released Do You Feel. This year, the album proved it’s magnitude by soaring its way up the Billboard charts upon its re-release ten years later. Do You Feel‘s ability to stand the test of time was one of many successes in the music industry in 2017. However, with the highs come the devastating lows. The passing of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Anarbor’s Tyler Hedstrom highlighted a major problem in the industry’s reluctance to discuss mental illness until it’s too late. See what Avary had to say on that and more when I caught up with him in the midst of his Do You Feel Anniversary tour.
So tell me how everything is going. What’s it like being on tour for an album that came out 10 years ago?
Avary: “I’m like, constantly in a perpetual state of moving forward and writing new music, and life is long and to me, we’re still at the very beginning. I don’t believe I’ve written my best song or best record yet and I don’t know if I ever will so that’s what keeps me going. So yeah, this is cool, it’s been cool to celebrate this record that kind of largely helped bring a lot of people into this community that is The Rocket Summer. Not just me, but all of us. It’s been interesting to re-learn songs that I recorded or maybe never even played during that era. It’s just cool to celebrate this thing we have. We generally play a two hour set so Do You Feel is just one part of it (laughs), and we change the set every night.”
With everything going on in the music industry right now and Jamie of TWLOHA attending one of your shows a few days back, I wanted to speak with you on this particular topic. What is your take on how fans, or anyone from the outside looking in, might help make it a better place for musicians struggling with mental health?
Avary: “I just think community is everything. Kind word goes a long way. That’s why I’ve always considered music to be the friend that can convince you not to jump when you’re at your darkest hour. Music is really powerful but sometimes it takes more than that. So I think really talking about stuff, and it’s hard, it’s hard because nobody wants to talk about having stuff like that. A lot of people are suffering deep down and a lot is going on in people’s minds. What’s cool is I feel like we’re getting to a point where people are more willing to talk about stuff and needing help. I think that people need to realize that it’s okay to say you need help or talk about it. As far as how people can help musicians I think just, for me, I live for playing live and the community we have is so helpful. You have to have a support group in your life of people who actually know who you are. It can be very easy to shut off. I’m personally like that, I have very few people in my life that really know me, so it can be a very hard thing when you have a pubic persona to allow people into your real mind. Everybody has stuff.”
Recently a lot of musicians that are in a powerful spot who have said “don’t be afraid to reach out” in light of Linkin Park and Anabor, and I recently read a piece from Thursday’s Geoff Rickly and he spoke on musicians being introverts and being forced to be on stage.
Avary: “Yeah it is weird, it’s a strange thing. Most people that know me, know me as a quiet dude but I come alive on stage. I like performing and just seeing people come alive to music.”
You recently released a song “Gone Too Long” and Zoetic was such a different, rugged sound, can you speak a little about your future?
Avary: “I know where it’s going but it’s too early to talk about it. I wouldn’t say it’s going in the direction of “Gone Too Long” but it made a lot of sense to put it out before the tour, as a “return to form” in a way with a lot of melatrons and synths. It’s really about a deja-vu moment of “wow where have I been?” I’m on tour and after the tour I’m going to put my head back into instruments. Zoetic is a really polarizing record, people either really love it or really just don’t get it. I don’t think the next record will be like Zoetic but I think it’s gonna be different. I like to explore too much and I still feel like I haven’t made “the record” yet.”