*Unedited* Rocketship Interview, August 2015, Exclaim!
Questions by Cam Lindsay

>Why did you decide to reissue the album at this point?

Despite its inherent flaws, vinyl, for whatever reasons, is currently even more popular than when A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness came out in 1996. I kept hearing stories of people paying way too much money for used vinyl copies of the record, and it didn't seem just that one had to sell one's bike or whatever to raise the cash to hear our debut on a turntable. Because so many people are into the record, I'm really happy to give them the opportunity to spin Rocketship.

>So what can you tell me about the reissue of A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness?

Nonstop Cooperative will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to reissue A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness on vinyl just as the original sounded and looked, more or less, although we'll probably do recycled colored vinyl, orange or brown. It'll be remastered to be a little louder, but otherwise unchanged. 

>You have a number of singles that came out just before and after the album. Will they be included in some way? (FYI - "Hey, Hey, Girl" is an all-time favorite of mine)

All of Rocketship's material is available digitally at the nonstopco-op.com site. If people are into the A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness reissue, there's a good possibility I'll re-release "Hey, Hey Girl" and the like on vinyl, too.

>That album was originally released by Slumberland. But I've heard that label won't be reissuing it. Why is that?

I'm quite fortunate to have had Slumberland's help in popularizing A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness and I'm thrilled Mike has had so much success. At this point, however, I don't much want to work with record labels if it can be avoided. Record labels (not just the big ones, but independents, too) have almost complete control over the sales data and finances of the artists whose records they put out and the artists, in turn, must trust that the information they receive is accurate, as David Byrne explored in his recent op-ed for the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/opinion/sunday/open-the-music-industrys-black-box.html?_r=0). It's a very inegalitarian relationship between artists and labels, the latter being, of course, capitalist businesses which, by design, profit off the work of others. This is a criticism of the whole label scene, not directed at any one label. I've seen contracts where the artist will receive $2 for a record that will be sold directly from the label's website (thus, no distributor to take a cut) for upwards of $15. I've also seen recording contracts where the record label includes language to snag some percentage of the artist's publishing rights "in perpetuity". It's not revelatory to observe that the record industry has an awful history of unethical behavior. Just take Spotify's almost non-existent compensation of artists-- it's overt theft. Or Tame Impala's "unpaid royalties" case. Of course, John Fogerty was sued by the owner of CCR's publishing rights for plagiarizing his own music. The list of sleazy music industry criminality is really endless. Whereas these are examples of egregious acts of blatant exploitation, the music industry capitalists' day-to-day relations with the producers of the "cream" they take-- musicians-- are structurally exploitative. What can one expect, though, when culture has been commodified by capitalists?

>You played a few shows last year. Do you see Rocketship playing any shows in the future? Maybe A Certain Smile in its entirety?

Playing live is not of great interest to me for several reasons. Rock music is much too loud and responsible for damaging the hearing, surely, of many millions of people, audiences and musicians alike. Music doesn't need to be so loud, but because of the availability of electricity, people electrified musical instruments and stereos and, being ever creative, invented new forms of music with these technologies. These forms of music are delivered through speakers and are therefore inherently mediated, which I find alienating and very limiting. When was the last time you heard someone singing without amplification? The dynamic range and frequency response of speaker systems cannot come close to fully reproducing the richness of acoustic events and commodify our human legacy of song. Playing live music in our society is almost exclusively a commercial activity (clubs, expensive instruments, electricity, etc.), turning one's art into an object to consume for a price. (Of course, this is true of recordings, as well.) Playing live, electrified music is reliant upon the consumption of fossil fuels, contributing to the destruction of the natural world, and it saddens me greatly that to practice the art of music creation in our era, the health of the earth and its creatures is sacrificed. That said, what are the choices? Everyone is trapped in civilization, caged animals no different than those in a zoo. In such a lethal, technological society, we must constantly make compromises to survive and exist, eking out some form of happiness without inflicting too much harm upon others. Perhaps Rocketship's next iteration will be me on a solar powered laptop, or we'll play acoustically in my backyard or something.

>What about new Rocketship music? Is there any? What are you up to these days?

Currently titled Thanks To You, Rocketship's next album will be coming out in late 2015/ early 2016, not far behind the A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness re-release. I'm very excited to put out this new album. The songs are guitar-heavy and very personal and I'm working with a new singer, Ellen Osborn, who is excellent, bringing a rich expression to our sound. I tried to write very concise, tightly structured pop songs which are emotionally poignant, with beautiful, interesting arrangements, and the record is coming out very good. I think Rocketship fans will be very happy.
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