Fresh from their most roller-coaster year yet, the members of RocketRocketShip are about to embark on a Canadian tour to let high school students know how to deal with ups and downs of their own.
The six-piece St. John’s-based pop-punk band — Jeremy Kelly, Paul Brake, David Shears, Kenney Purchase, Matt Dines and relative newcomer Tyrone MacNeil — are playing a show at the LSPU Hall tonight, before touring the country with national charity Live Different, bringing motivational speeches and performances to high schools.
According to its website, Live Different was established as Absolute Leadership Development in 2000, and offers three different programs: Live Different Academy, where young people spend time in Mexico completing a course on international social justice; Hero Holidays, in which youth volunteer in humanitarian relief projects, such as building homes, distributing supplies, providing food and working with children at risk; and the motivational productions, which offer concert-style assemblies with a message that everyone has value and encourage students to make a positive difference in the world.
RocketRocketShip applied to Live Different last year to take part in the motivational tours, which will see speakers paired with musicians to deliver hour-long events. The band will play and may also have the opportunity to speak to the students about their own personal life challenges.
“For me, it was music,” Kelly said of his own method of dealing with stress. He had one bad year when he was in school, he said, and throwing himself into music worked for him “100 per cent.”
“I found bands and like-minded people who spoke about the things I was having issues with, whether it was trouble with a relationship or with friends or with people just not treating you right. I found music as an escape from that kind of thing.
“A lot of people, especially at younger ages, I find, don’t realize you can do things to get through tough times. High school is a very, very short part of your life. Most of those people, you’re never going to see again, and really, if they don’t treat you right, they don’t matter. It sucks and there’s no denying that at all, but there are plenty of ways to get past it, and it’s never as bad as it seems at the moment.”
In November, RocketRocketShip won the MusicNL Molson Coors Pop/Rock Artist/Group of the Year award for their album, “Your Best Kept Secret.” The record featured former singer Jon Pike, an engineering student who left the band to concentrate on school. It was a setback, Kelly has acknowledged, since Pike was the band’s main songwriter, and sent the group into transition.
MacNeil auditioned as a singer and was taken into the group immediately, although the guys are all still friends with Pike. Since winning their MusicNL award, RocketRocketShip went into the recording studio with blues/soul musician Chris Kirby, who is producing their upcoming album. Still untitled as of the new year, Kelly expects the record to be released by February.
There’s no doubt the band’s sound changed with MacNeil’s arrival and, under Kirby’s influence, they’ve achieved more depth, Kelly explained.
“The quality (of recording) is there, that we haven’t had before,” he said. “Before, we made some changes here and there, but this time, with Chris, we went through every single line of every single song and said, ‘How can we make this better?’ He brought out the best in all of us.
“If people could have seen us in the studio, when we were listening back to the tracks that we recorded, we were jumping around (with excitement). We have very, very high expectations set on ourselves.”
Others have high hopes, too: RocketRocketShip was recently offered a showcase on the Rising Star Stage at this year’s East Coast Music Awards, to be held in Charlottetown, P.E.I., in the spring. Whether they’ll also be nominated for any ECMA awards, time will tell.
“It’s going to be a very, very interesting couple of months for us, for sure,” Kelly said.
In the meantime, RocketRocketShip will perform at the LSPU Hall tonight with Corner Brook’s Emma Peckford. Tickets are $15 and are available at the LSPU Hall box office, by calling 753-4537 or online at www.rca.nf.ca.