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Rockets To Mars


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Where did all the Rock bands go? To Cincinnati baby!

That's the kind of lament that can be heard from any number of rockers with a potential stake in the Pop music lottery. But, to be honest, Rockets to Mars can't be arsed. They just wanna play music, write some good songs and, above all else, have a good time doing it.

Rockets to Mars isn't really concerned with saving Rock & Roll ­ it's going to be just fine. They just love a simple tune with a bit of grit and a lot of energy. It's what they do best. It's all they can do.

It was 1997, in the hyper-conservative burg of Cincinnati, Ohio, when singer/guitarist Jay Hopper first put together the idea for Rockets to Mars. Hopper was coming off the split of his previous long-running band and, with a growing love for more melodic Rock & Roll, decided he wanted to be in a Pop band with balls.

After a series of musicians came in and out of the fold, guitarist Mike Breen and drummer Benson Wright settled into their positions for good. Both came from a similar situation as Hopper - playing in various bands around Cincinnati (performing everything from heavy Indie Rock to Ska), the lure of a good hook and a stomping but intricate approach led them to climb aboard the Rocket. The final puzzle piece was hammered in place when bassist Brad Quinn, an Alabama native who has played with numerous artists (including Tommy Keene, Wilco's Jay Bennett and Swimming Pool Q's), joined the party.

The group's sound is based around memorable melodies, Hopper and Wright's pristine harmonies, a tight rhythmic punch and unique guitar interplay. RTM take cues from Pop music's heavies ­ from the Beatles, Beach Boys and Big Star to more contemporary influences,  but they also inject the songs with their own unique personality.

Since their formation, Rockets to Mars have kept busy playing numerous shows in their area, as well as some jaunts throughout the Midwest, South and East Coast. The band, who put everything they have into making their live shows actual "shows," have performed at various industry showcases and conferences, including South By Southwest in Austin, TX, NEA in Nashville and the NEMO fest in Boston.

The band has also had the pleasure of opening for various acts from around the country, including Bob Mould, Superdrag and Matthew Sweet, artists who have had a big influence on the Rockets to Mars members. They've also shared the stage with bands like Poster Children, Nada Surf, Sheila Divine, Frog Pond and Cobra Verde.

In 1998, Rockets to Mars began producing a yearly Pop/Rock music festival called Popopolis. The event, which has taken place over the last three years, polarized Cincinnati's strong local and regional Pop scene and also drew national acts like Frogpond and Superdrag. Many people in the area declared the 2000 Popopolis fest the best concert of the year in Cincinnati and the city's daily paper awarded the show Best Live Event at its annual local music awards program.

A couple of chance meetings at gigs shared with Boston's Orbit led to RTM being added to the roster of Lunch Records. The label released the CD single "Among the Stars" in 1999. Rockets' full-length debut Underneath the Half-Light was released in September 2001.



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