Dormant the first half of the year, Rocket From the Crypt have risen from
the dead to unleash a series of audio eruptions.
After getting off to a slow start in early 1999, when the prolific rock
band's output lagged, singer/guitarist Speedo pushed the group into
overdrive. Rocket From the Crypt now are nearing the end of a string of
late-'99 releases that includes a 12-inch EP, two 7-inches, and a compilation
of singles and B-sides.
"We haven't been that busy the past year," Speedo (born John Reis) said.
Looking through old tapes and putting together the compilation album
All Systems Go 2, he said, "made me feel like, 'Wow, we've got to
get back to where we used to be,' as far as being fairly prolific."
The six-piece San Diego band, known for combining punk-rock guitars with
a blasting horn section, recorded eight tracks over the summer with
producer Gar Wood (Boilermaker, Furious IV) that would eventually become
the new EP and 7-inch singles. Rocket From the Crypt also contributed
tracks to two compilation discs released in August. "Man Down" is on Merge
Records' Oh, Merge, and a cover of Wall of Voodoo's "This Way Out"
appears on Vagrant Records' Before You Were Punk 2.
The first release from the summer session was "Delorean" (RealAudio
excerpt), which appeared on a split 7-inch with Swedish rockers
the Hellacopters in the fall issue of Gearhead a music and
In late October the band released All Systems Go 2, a 25-track
collection of B-sides, 7-inches and other rarities. The CD includes such
hard-to-find songs as "Cut It Loose," first released in 1991 on a Japanese
7-inch limited to 75 copies, and "Lose Your Clown," which appeared on a
7-inch given away during two 1996 in-store appearances in London. It also
features two previously unreleased instrumentals, "Slow" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Nobobby."
All Systems Go 2 is the first release on Speedo's Swami Records
imprint, affiliated with indie label Sympathy for the Record Industry.
Next year Swami plans a CD reissue of Rocket From the Crypt's 1995 EP
Hot Charity, originally released only on vinyl and now out of print.
Another vinyl EP an untitled five-song 12-inch on Flapping Jet
Records hit stores in mid-November. The cardboard, die-cut album
sleeve has a sticker over the hole on one side, affixing the record inside
to its packaging. The sticker, which must be cut to remove the album,
bears the words "Cut carefully and play loud."
"The whole idea is that it's not supposed to be a collectible as much as
it is just a neat record," said Max Bristol, owner of Flapping Jet and
a longtime member of Rocket From the Crypt's road crew. "I want people
to cut it, and it should be sloppy. ... I want, when you spin it, to have
chunks of sticker hanging off. That's the neat thing about it ... you
have to destroy it to play it."
The final salvo in Rocket's end-of-the-year assault will be the "Black
excerpt) 7-inch, backed with "Bombs Away." The single will be
released on Glazed Records, run by Bill Litfin, webmaster of the band's
official website (www.rftc.com).
" 'Black Eye' is faster, more uptempo, with some of the great guitar work
that Rocket are known for," Litfin said. "And then 'Bombs Away' is a little
more midtempo. It's kind of a head-nodder. You just kind of bob your head
when you're listening to it."
The 7-inch will be released in three colors. Those pressed on swirled
gold and black can be purchased directly from the label (www.glazed.com),
transparent red copies will be available from the band at shows, and plain
black pressings will be available in stores. The single is due in late
The band has recorded several more new songs at its practice studio, and
Speedo said Swami might release some of them, along with the tracks from
the Flapping Jet EP, on CD next year. He also said the band has about 20
songs written for its next album.
"We don't want next year to be another year without a full-length Rocket From the Crypt record, so we definitely want to record at the beginning of the year and have it come out in the summer, or something like that," Speedo said.
The band plans to begin recording its fifth album after finding a new
label. Earlier this year the group negotiated its way out of a contract
with Interscope. Speedo said the band will be taking a more stripped-down
approach than it took to last year's RFTC, so recording budget
will be less of a factor in choosing a label than distribution will be.
"We want a basis of distribution that can get our music out to the people,
so basically even Joe Public has a chance of going into wherever his lame,
cheesy record store is in some mall and maybe see our records," Speedo
said. "I want people to hear what we're doing, and I just believe that
if people hear what we're doing, then maybe we can have a positive effect
on the state of contemporary music."