There's no shortage of good bands playing the Ink-N-Iron festival this weekend at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Sadly, we can't pay much attention to bands that are merely “good” when the world's greatest band of all time is playing. That's right, folks — Rocket From the Crypt is performing Saturday night and if that's not enough to get your ass off the couch–even for a festival focused on cars and tattoos– then it's time to start reevaluating your life.
It's a big deal any time the world's greatest band plays (full disclosure: I'm kind of a fan), but it's an even bigger deal when the show marks the first time in nearly eight years that the world's greatest band is playing on American soil. An announced show, anyway.
Rocket From the Crypt held an uber-secret gig on Easter at Bar Pink in San Diego (this writer attended), but that performance was for approximately 100 heathens who view the six members of Rocket From the Crypt (singer/guitarist John “Speedo” Reis, bassist Pete “Petey X” Reichert, guitarist Andy “ND” Stamets, drummer Mario “Ruby Mars” Rubalcaba, trumpet player Jason “JC2000” Crane and saxophonist Paul “Apollo 9” O'Beirne) as musical Messiahs whose triumphant return to the stage was infinitely more important to humanity than some bearded hippie who rose from the dead.
That show — and Rocket's subsequent European tour — found the band playing a blistering hour-plus set comprised of nothing but hits, which comes as no surprise as Rocket From the Crypt writes nothing but hits. In layman's terms, this means the band is going to fucking rule and you are a goddamn moron if you miss this performance.
I don't often give advice, but take it from me: You should go see Rocket From the Crypt. Their live shows are so much fun you won't be able to help but give it up for the band because, as someone much smarter than I once said, they're pretty good.
We spoke to bassist Petey X about Rocket's return and how he feels after playing the breakdown in set-closer “Come See, Come Saw” for what feels like a half-hour.
OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie): Last time I spoke to John, he said Rocket would never play again. What changed between now and then?
Pete Reichert: After Rocket played our last show, we all stayed friends and stayed in touch, but we started pursuing different things. “Never” is such a big word, but whenever we were asked that questions, we didn't have plans to play again until we actually had plans to play again.
But why now?
Everybody was in a good place and had time to spare, time to put aside for Rocket. There was a little bit of, “Hey, we aren't getting any younger, so if we're going to do it, why not do it now?” Time goes so fast these days.
Were you ready for Rocket to end? Was it a group decision?
The last couple years, we weren't doing anything substantial and we had other things we wanted to pursue. At that point in our lives, it was a full-time thing or nothing. We spent so much time practicing and perfecting what we thought we did. It got to the point where it was fun but time to give it a rest. It was definitely a group decision.
Did you miss being in a band or were you glad to be gone?
I always continued playing music, so I had that fulfillment, but when my friends would come to town on tour, at that point I missed it. But I'd go down early to see them and after about three hours of doing nothing, I went, “Man, my time is so much more valuable than this.” Especially touring. It's 23 hours of boredom and one hour of excitement. Life's a little too precious.
You have a family, right?
I'm married and I have three kids.
So, for you, sitting around for 23 hours a day is not exactly the most ideal situation compared to when you were 22.
When you're single, it's awesome. You're having a great time. But when you have kids, especially young kids, you go away for two weeks and there are a lot of differences. That's when you start valuing your time. My youngest is six and he's changing constantly. He's really into music, so it's kind of cool at this point in his life because I'm not going away for long periods of time. It just works out. And I'm not the only one with kids — Mario has kids, John has a kid, Andy has a kid. We're all in the same boat and they're all around the same age.
So since the band broke up, a bunch of you have had kids. In other ten years or so, we might have a Rocket From the Crypt, Jr. Is that what you're saying?
It's very possible. My older kids are teenagers. My son's an amazing guitar player and my daughter plays bass and drums, so they could start working on it now. I wouldn't put Rocket at the top of their favorite bands or anything.
What do they think when you tell them you're going to Europe for two weeks? Do they get it?
My daughter is like, “Can you go to the U.K. so you can meet One Direction?” My son definitely gets it. He wants to be a musician, so he thinks it's a cool thing.
What is the status of the band? Are there shows booked after Long Beach? Are you a fly-in for a festival kind of band?
Right now, we're picking and choosing and playing what sounds like fun. For now, that means flying in. We're doing Ink-N-Iron and flying out at 7 a.m. for Orion in Detroit. At the end of the month, we're flying to Spain and July we're flying to Japan for two shows. We have a few more things booked throughout the year. Will it stay like that? No. I think the first six-eight months of doing this will be at that level and then we'll start making longer jaunts out of it.
Is Rocket something you can fall back on? Could Rocket play a few shows here and there every year? I'm guessing this isn't something you're going full-time with.
Again, never say never. We're definitely not going full bore on it, but I don't want to get together once a year to play a show. I just want to play shows until we decide we're done playing shows. It's not like it is or was a massively profitable situation, but it's something we can do as long as we can stay young.
You guys all kept playing after Rocket, so it's not like anyone needed to get his chops back up, right?
Eight years is a long time. I was more nervous about it than anyone else was. At that point, I had to be because it came together really quick. Like, the first practice was great. The second practice wasn't as great because you open up all the doors in your mind of all those things you used to play, so there was more thought process in the second practice. By the third practice, we were grooving and it was great. It's one thing to practice — it's another to play live. That's why we did the San Diego thing because we had to stand on stage once before we stood on stage.
How long between the offer to play and you actually playing?
We started practicing about a month before the first show for a day or two a week. Granted, we weren't trying to write new music or learn new songs. It was sit down, write a list of 30 or 40 songs that we would entertain playing and went through them. When it came time to play, we played the ones we felt sounded the strongest.
Was there anything on the list that didn't come together?
I don't think anything wasn't coming together. Maybe, it wasn't coming together as strong as ever. We're going after a really high-energy set. In San Diego, we played “Ditch Digger,” but we didn't end up playing it in Europe at all. It's a favorite to play, but it's a bit of a lull and we wanted to keep the set upbeat. We wanted to come out screaming and keep it up at that level.
So you're never going to play “Ghost Shark?”
I love that song. It's got this amazing feel to it. I could see us busting that out down the road, but it's not a festival song. And that's what we've got lined up for the next few months. When we turn the corner and do more club dates, I could see something like that coming out.
Is the set influenced by the fact that you're playing festivals?
Chalk that up to any festival. If you aren't headlining, it ain't all your fans. Even if you are headlining, it ain't all your fans. Coachella sells out before they announce the lineup. Nobody cares. It's all about spending eight dollars on water and being in the desert. To us, faster is better. Just keep knocking out the songs and hope everyone gets in a frenzy. You don't want to throw in a slow song and bring the whole thing to a screeching halt.
What was the impression after the San Diego show?
There was more thought process involved because it was the first time. Everyone walked away saying, “Yeah, that was fun.” It was hard to hear, but we're used to those kinds of things. After the first show in Germany, which sold out the fastest and the anticipation level was way up there, I walked off thinking it felt like we never stopped.
Wasn't Atom supposed to play?
We started talking about playing around the time we did the “Yo Gabba Gabba!” show. Atom did that with us because Mario couldn't. Atom was really amped on being part of it one way or another. Originally, he was in mind to do it, but as we got closer it became pretty obvious that he wasn't going to be able to do it. He's a busy drummer, always on the road. It just wasn't working with the time frame.
How in the hell do you play “Come See, Come Saw” for that long?
I don't know. I'm not going to say I always do it perfectly, but I never stop and there are nights when, in my mind, it's 20 minutes long. At Bar Pink it was pretty long. It was the first time I've played it in eight years and I was looking into the crowd and by the faces, I could tell everyone was feeling for me. It's a brutal song, but it's such a great last, climactic song. I love playing it, but sometimes it takes its toll after barn-burning set. John gives me looks throughout the song and feels what I'm feeling. There are nights when he speeds it up. He's conscious of my feeling back there. I wouldn't have it any other way because it's a great way to wrap up the set.