Rocket Science have returned after ten years with a, dare I say it, exceptional fifth album that will tear your mind to ribbons.
Lead singer and songwriter Roman Tucker talks us though the concepts behind each track on Snake from wandering the halls of a psych-ward with amnesia to futility and the planets’ impending doom. One thing’s for sure, this record was not plucked from thin air.
We chat with Rocket Science about the brilliant ideas and tales behind their interstellar, post-punk collection of spectacular sounds, Snake.
The opening track is called Chasing Rainbows I wrote this song living in an institutional environment recovering from a brain injury. Chasing Rainbows paints a dark and uncompromising picture of a dystopian world. Inside the ward, I found myself surrounded by people trying to get their lives and memories back together. Rooms are painted with different cheerful colours, and one of them was blue, in this room we would congregate together and discuss the day’s events or personal developmental issues. Sometimes people had a meltdown or would act out and even yell or become paranoid or whatever. I brought these words to a rehearsal one day, and away we went. I had a few keyboard chords and a cool outro that contains inverted intervals then Rocket Science went to work all contributing ideas to make it work as it is recorded on the album.
I’ve lived and still live with the song Snake because it is and has become a song that relates to my experience with gender, sexuality and relationships. The words describe how I look at ‘difference’ as something positive. It talks about all of them, meaning the people closest to me, as the same. I don’t have intimate relationships with people easily, but when I do, it’s for life. I wrote the music for Snake many years ago, and it is only now that the song can be represented entirely in a climate that will accept the post-punk or art-punk instead of classic rock-blues or post-rock.
A short time ago, I started to be obsessed with non-spaces or spaces which were useful, but no-one cared about. A hotel lobby, a walkway, area at the bottom of an escalator, or lift. I roamed abound Melbourne because that’s where I was at the time and write what I saw.
Lipstick Red finds me at lunch in South Bank. It feels logically existential and explains and looks at the absurd nature of human behaviour. After writing the words, I came up with the bass line and keyboard line and introduced the song to my own repertoire solo then later added it to Rocket Science set-list, and as a result, I’m happy to say that Lipstick Red has found it’s home on the album ‘Snake’.
Scorpio’s Gamble is a totally improvised accident that the band capitalised on at that moment, on one particular day of recording. Paul was in the control room, and I started to muck around with some sounds and a riff when Kit suddenly jumped on the drums and begun to play with me. It sounded so good. Dave looked over and obviously heard it too, so he grabbed his bass and started to search for an idea, also. Paul was in the control room and heard it through the speakers and knew that the only and best option was for him to quickly press the record button.
I Hate Hate
Every Rocket Science recording to date has at least one of Dave’s songs represented on the album. I Hate Hate is one such song. Guessing from the lyrics, Dave is talking about a current phenomenon often described in social media where people feel that they can vent hate in a public domain without consequence or persecution by authorities or public. To quote Dave Gray, “My sole lyrical contribution was a tribute to the Outrage Industrial Complex and how so many of us are eager to participate in it.” When Dave came to rehearsal with this ‘banger.’ It was unanimous that it should be included on the album. We spent considerable time on the guitar sound and Voc melody to give it a serious punch. I did the Voc take in one go, and when we tried for another, it just didn’t have that same feeling, so we went with it. I love this song, especially the bass line, is a killer.
The thing is when you have a brain injury, you end up recovering in rehab, and you end up in them, you could imagine, for quite some time. These buildings are significant, with many corridors. One day, I received a note under my door. The letter said, “I’m not sure if you remember me, but my name is Brian, and I’m hauled up here in room …. this same recovery building as you. Sadly, I’m unable to leave my room, but please come visit if you can. Brian Hooper”. I had massive amnesia, so as you would expect, I had no idea who Brian Hooper was. I put on my gown and proceeded to look for this man called Brian, who knows me, but I had no idea who he was. Armed with nothing but a hospital gown and a note, I asked my way, through corridors, for Brian Hooper’s room which was scribbled on the small piece of paper. Eventually, I found myself outside the room specified, and hesitantly knocked, a voice sounded from within, “Come in.” Nothing could prepare me for what came. Next, Brian Henry Hooper, a man I did not know, or at least couldn’t remember, was lying in a hospital bed in what I believe is called traction. Brian said, hello Roman. The two of us recounted past events, and he was able to help reintroduce me to me. That is the inspiration behind the song Dark Corridors.
After we found the improvisation for Scorpio’s Gamble. We knew or had been reminded, about this marvellous skill Rocket Science has for improvisation. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves improvising again and Paul ran straight into the control room and returned this time with his guitar. It reminds me of some of Californian Psych from the mid to late 60s. Over the years, I’ve learnt to sit with the improvisation and let it evolve naturally rather than anxiously look for the next thing. This one is a great meditation and an interlude from the intensity of the album.
We have been around for a while now, and we are no strangers to good times, so it’s a no brainer how Cheers Pinger came about. Through the eyes of a fictitious medical practitioner, the audience is encouraged to take care. Cheers Pinger is a spacious wordplay that takes you into one of the developed world’s most common illegal pastimes; descriptive and experiential. Why do we feel that it’s essential to leave the world we live? After all, where are we going anyway? The obsession with euphoria is embedded deep within our expectations are not real. In Cheers Pinger, the world is sensory and rich with adjectives describing what it’s like to take a ‘Pinger’ Ha-ha. It even helps you through the experience reminding you to take care and be mindful. After presenting the song, the band fell into a trippy and jagged misaligned riff, and we knew this was perfect maybe even too perfect. Who knows?
Back for More
When I wrote Back for More many years ago, I thought that I was going to give rock n’ roll a second chance. Many years later, I found myself, we found ourselves, giving it a go yet again. It seemed that since we had never published the song and it was still present in our current set that the band needs to include it on ‘Snake’, besides, we are back for more. Note: the drums for ‘Back for More’ are a direct reinterpretation of a Rhythm Ace 60s drum machine setting.
Curve of Your Back
I wrote Curve of Your Back seated in a designer chair looking over an ocean scene on the bay in Melbourne. My mind had become settled, and because of circumstances in life, I found myself feeling secure and content. Meanwhile, our planet is at risk, the sixth mass extinction of animal life is well ahead, and we need to stop all carbon emissions by the year 2030. We have a tremendous overpopulation problem and countries over the world are putting the so-called – ‘Strong Men’ in power. Australia still needs to employ a treaty with its first nation peoples and teenagers, as always, are rebelling against authorities, only this time they are rebelling because the world is suffering an existential threat, never seen before in human history. We employed industrial noise to help create this feeling, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy listening to our take on an ongoing problem here in Australia and the world.
This is how Snake has been birthed by us, to you, enjoy it while you can.