For all of the hyped acts that thrived within the boom of new bands arriving around the late ‘90s and early 2000s, a dozen more perished publicly or quietly imploded. Some, such as Melbourne’s Rocket Science, were caught somewhere in the middle. Their jaunty, angular take on indie punk scored them a few moments of considerable radio rotation – including 2004’s Sex Call and 2002’s Hottest 100-placing Being Followed – but their position as outliers never really budged, and the band quietly called it a day in 2008 after releasing four albums.
“We didn’t play together for about six years,” says Roman Tucker, the band’s lead singer and keyboardist. “In 2014, there was a benefit show for Mick Blood, who is the lead singer of the band The Lime Spiders. He found himself in a situation not unlike my own, so I felt very akin to helping him. When we played again, it felt so good that we decided to keep it going.”
The situation Tucker alludes to is his induced coma in early 2004, which came after passing out at the top of a flight of stairs and landing on his head. It would take months of rehabilitation, both physical and mental, but thankfully Tucker was able to make a relatively-complete recovery. Now, with his second go-around as a part of Rocket Science, he takes nothing for granted.
“We’ve had a great time playing shows since we got back together,” he says. “We got to support The Scientists when they played in Melbourne, we did a headlining show at the Gaso[meter Hotel] and a few other gigs here and there. It’s been wonderful. People have responded really well to it, which is such a gratifying feeling. It’s funny, playing some of the older songs – it reminds me that we were always different, and that we were always outsiders. In a way, it feels like rock’n’roll has caught up with Rocket Science.”
Tucker also mentions that the band have been writing new songs, with hopes to perform them live in a mix with their earlier material. Although it’s still early days, Tucker is excited at the prospect of Rocket Science having new songs to share after so many years away from the helm. “I think we’re sounding like we’ve always sounded,” he says. “We can’t sound any different to how Rocket Science seems to play. There’s something about this combination of four people that gives it a particular style. All those influences are still there – the garage stuff we love, the post punk stuff we love. Lately, I’ve been really getting into Pere Ubu – I think the new stuff might end up sounding like that. The music that we make is really just a reflection on our record collections.”
Next on the cards for Rocket Science is an appearance at the 2016 Darebin Music Feast – a huge 40-event celebration happening across 11 days in the Darebin municipality. The band will be performing as a part of the Feast’s Reservoir Stomp alongside The Rechords and The Putbacks, and will be headlining the evening. “The only requirements for playing the Reso Stomp is that you have to have at least one of your band members living in the area,” says Tucker.
“Turns out that one of us lives close by – who’d have guessed it’d be that easy to meet a gig’s criteria? We all immediately knew that it would be a really fun and interesting show to play. It seemed like a total no-brainer to be a part of it. We’re in a lovely position at the moment where we’re not stressing over touring heaps or working to deadlines. If something comes up, we come together and decide whether it’d be best for us or not. If it’s something we want to do, there’s really nothing that can stop us. This show was a perfect example of something we all wanted to do – simple as that.”
By David James Young