I Am a Rocketship: Legends, not Liars.
LIES AND LEGENDS, the new album from Atlanta’s ‘I Am a Rocketship,’ continues to win acclaim from critics and fans alike.
But recent online comparisons with Garbage have somewhat missed the mark. This is an album impossible to pigeonhole, with lyrics that demand attention, even action perhaps, it’s a call to arms, and right now it feels exactly what the world needs.
As previously mentioned on LondonPeaky, ‘I Am a Rocketship’ are an Atlanta-based, American-Swedish indie outfit, consisting of Eric Weissinger and LE Kippner.
Released last month, the album is overflowing with potential, ‘songs of the year.’ But have the lyrics been overlooked in favour of the music?
“Oh, we were not surprised or offended that people aren’t picking up on every nuance of what we felt when we wrote lyrics,” said Weissinger. “I personally prefer lyrics that let the listener tell their own story. I haven’t a clue what the classic song “Blinded By The Light” was about, and that’s beautiful.
“As for our album, we were alternately scared, sad, and angry about the rise of autocracy masquerading as populism in the last few years. The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was one of the lowest points in this country’s history, a toxic mix created by the very rich and powerful convincing [some of] the people their beliefs were being attacked by their fellow citizens. Cynically using race, gender politics, religion, and patriotism to try to consolidate power.
“We had most of the songs roughed out then, but in the months that followed we talked about the way people who had believed in the American dream felt ripped off, whether they were politically on the right or left. And we rewrote the songs to be snapshots of a disillusioned ordinary American, maybe one who was outside the Capitol waving a flag and truly believing in a cause, and how they ended up still feeling unsatisfied, empty, lost.
“For example, ‘Fever Dream’ is about waking up in 2021 and wondering if the riots and marches and passion were just a dream. ‘Revolution,’ and ‘Insurrection,’ are pretty self-explanatory. ‘Stone’ is about Trump ally Roger Stone. ‘Ignorance’ is about not wanting all the answers, because sometimes you just don’t want to ask questions. ‘What’s This For’ is directed at politicians using us, saying to use me like a perfect weapon, tell me where to go. It ends with ‘Hide,’ which is asking if it was worth the passion and the fame, and now do you just need a place to hide.
“Probably far too much stuffing for simple pop songs, but it was a strange year, and we needed to get it out of our systems. Wish we could have written love songs…”
The album never stays long in one place and there’s even an earthy PiL ‘Rise’-era feeling to the aforementioned ‘Stone,’ a point I put to Eric Weissinger.
“I hadn’t thought of that actually,” he said. “The drums were supposed to sound a bit like war drums, and I do think Killing Joke was the vibe I was wanting there, and Martin Atkins was in PiL and Killing Joke, so… hmmm. You may be correct.”
From the pounding drums of ‘Stone,’ to something entirely different and a cover of ‘Taxman.’ This version capturing your attention with a beautiful, ‘10,000 Maniacs’ grace and flow, highlighting if nothing else, the band’s remarkable versatility.
“We had to approach ‘Taxman’ from a different angle, because of course it’s a cover so it wasn’t a blank canvas to start with,” explained LE Kippner. “With our own songs, we add personality and feelings to them from the start, but ‘Taxman’ already had an attitude before we sank our teeth into it. So, we built on that and this is what came through. It sounds quite different from the original version, but we think the attitude is still there. When I sing it, I’m never quite sure if I’m the hero or the villain.”
And in another extraordinary change of direction, ‘On Poppy Hill’ is as good – and sometimes as dark – as anything gifted to us by Siouxsie & The Banshees.
The range of sounds produced by the duo, along with the power of the lyrics delivers something, repeatedly, we haven’t heard in what feels like eternity. It’s a seemingly perfect, potent, thrilling blend of anger, beauty and perhaps most importantly, a raging, social injustice.
“Wow, thank you. Siouxsie and the Banshees had a way of making the beautiful sound almost menacing,” said LE Kippner. “In this song, we did mix anger with beauty. It’s a song about the horrors that humans put each other through and of loss that can’t be undone, and we tried to let that come through in the music. The lyrics were not written in anger though; they were actually written to someone. So, we tried to put the beauty there. It’s a letter that will never be read.”
And Weissinger added, “That one started because so many of LE’s ancestors disappeared in wars, and I don’t think an American like me can really feel that sense of so many centuries of war and loss. I mean, we did terrible things to the people who lived here before Europeans, but we didn’t have the history of most of the world.
“I just wanted the heaviness of the instrumental parts to feel furious, to balance the quiet sadness of the verses. Human history sometimes feels like incoherent fury alternating with melancholy beauty. That’s a pretty bleak way of writing a song I guess, but we both had a lot to express after the rise of nationalism, the climate crisis, and the pandemic. Not really a time to write about girls and cars.”
Treat yourselves, treat your loved ones, to one of the greatest albums you’ll hear this year.
‘LIES and LEGENDS’ is now available from I Am a Rocketship
01. Fever Dream
05. Set The Controls to Forever
07. What’s This For
08. On Poppy Hill
Written and performed by Eric Weissinger and L E Kippner
Recorded at The Barry Patch by Eric Weissinger
Video created by Eric Weissinger and L E Kippner
©2021 My Long Wknd, LLC, except ‘Taxman’ written by George Harrison ©1966 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC