Bottle Cap Rockets

Posted by Dee-Ann On October - 23 - 20133,911 views

BCR BandNew Jersey, US rockabilly band Bottle Cap Rockets was formed in 2010 by vocalist/guitarist Al Gross, the band’s songwriter. Recruiting bassist/backing vocalist Chris Wolfer to complete the core of the band, with several different drummers recruited to make a trio for gigs

Al: My songwriting partnership with Pete Surdoval ended a few years ago so by 2010 I decided to put a project together on my own. I wrote a number of songs and then assembled a band.

Chris: When I hooked up with the Bottle Cap Rockets, we were playing mostly originals. Many of his songs had a feel of rockabilly at their core. We felt we needed to choose a direction as a band. We wanted “our sound” to be associated with a specific genre. The drummer we were working with at the time influenced the band as well to concentrate on a more consistent rockabilly sound. We then began adding some cover tunes to compliment the originals.

Al: I would have to say we fall within the Neo-Rockabilly category but I’m influenced by everyone from ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, The Black Keys all the way back to Eddie Cochran as well as The Stray Cats and Horton Heat. There’s a bit of a hard rock thing that pops up on a few songs but there’s also that Stray Cats vibe with a bluesy quality in there too. It all blends into our own thing.

How did your love for this music start, which age, which artist.

Who did influence you?

Chris: My influences for rockabilly originate from standard rock and roll and blues to country and bluegrass. My roots spread pretty far. As for specific artists, how can you not be influenced by; Elvis, Hank Williams, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

Al: I’ve loved rock & roll from an early age starting with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. Then I found Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. Clapton was my introduction to the Blues. As a teen I would jam for hours. I learned how to play lead guitar from all those jams. I eventually got into The Stray Cats and that led me to Elvis and his Sun Session recordings from the mid ‘50s. I then explored the music of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Johnny Burnette and many others. Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds were also very influential to me as well as Robert Gordon with Link Wray. I fell in love with their version of Red Hot.

Where do you get your inspiration? Real life, or total fantasy?

Al: I get ideas from everywhere. Some song ideas are from my subconscious, it can start with a word or a sentence and there are others that stem from relationships in my life, the sour memories usually work well for more aggressive tunes. There’s that friction and angst that comes out. There are times that I come up with the music first, maybe it’s a riff or a chord structure that comes out and I then fit a voiced melody later fitting words to it.

(Tell us about your latest cd)

Al: Well we are getting ready to go into the studio within the next few weeks. Chris and I are working with a drummer that we have played with in the past by the name of Mike Smith. He’s a seasoned pro who we like very much. The release will be titled “Go Ape” and we hope to have it out by the end of the year or by early 2014. This will be our second offering. Our first release came out in August of last year. It’s called “First Seven”. The direction on that one is varied. We have some more mainstream tracks on there but since then we have really gone all out Rockabilly.

What are your do’s and don’ts on stage?

Al: I would have to say always put on a great show and that means rehearse as much as you have to in order to sound tight. And on the “don’t list” I’d say never turn down a gig. And never stop a song that you think you might have messed up. Always see it through because most of the time the audience may not even catch that something is off.

Chris: My Do’s and Don’t’s. I try not to overplay. Playing more notes doesn’t make a bass line better. Although, sometimes I do try. SHOWMANSHIP. I try to look and sound my best. Practice, practice, practice. Playing “clean” doesn’t happen by accident. Oh, I try to let my bass do most of the talking. No one wants to hear me get up on stage and talk.

Al: Chris is a good talker on stage don’t let him fool you HaHa.

Clothes, performance? What’s important, musical quality or stage fun?

Al: All of the above is important. We like to dress the part, that’s where showmanship comes in, especially when it comes to Rockabilly. I like to wear vintage country western shirts or ‘50s bowling or lounge shirts and I play a Gretsch 6120 guitar for sound and style. Appearing confident is where the fun is for me, that’s where people start to engage with the band.

Do you like other styles than rock and roll?

Chris: When it comes to music, there really isn’t a genre I won’t listen to. There are some I can only take in small doses, like: reggae, jazz, heavy metal and rap.

Al: I have an appreciation for jazz from growing up with my dad a jazz fanatic but I fancy Rock. I can’t stand rap.

Is there an artist you would like to work with in future?

Al: My dream would be to work with Brian Setzer. (he and I come from the same home town, Massapequa, New York) But that’s just a fantasy. There are a number of local band I would like to work with or at least do a show with. One that comes to mind is Gas House Gorillas and the other is Crash Gordon and Debra Dynamite.

Where would you like to play, festival/ country/ event/ …

Al: I am not picky about where I play. Gigs are hard to come by when you are new to the scene like we are. There are bands out there that have been doing it for 10 or even 20 years that are well connected and get all the gigs. So it’s going to take us some time to get noticed and accepted in the tri-state area.

Chris: It doesn’t matter where I play. Just give me a crowd!

Do you regret anything? Missed chance, big mistake

Chris: I really don’t have any regrets. I’ve had a love for playing musical instruments since I was a kid. However, I did stop playing for a while when I settled down to start a family. There are not enough hours in the day to keep a roof over your head, be a good husband and father AND keep up with playing music. I’m lucky that my family is healthy and through their support, I am able to find the time again to fit music back into my life.

Al Gross: Well I was in a band years ago and I got pretty fed-up with the scene and left music for a long time. I wish I had stuck with it. I’m pretty much starting over again but happy I decided to dive back in.

What are your future plans?

Al: To get gigs! And to keep writing and recording.

Finish this sentence: I will never ever….

Al: Never Never Ever Ever Quit!

Chris: We will never, ever stop playing music. It’s in our blood.

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