By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
A year ago, all Bryce Avary wanted was a record contract. He had just released a five-song EP, under the name The Rocket Summer, and he used it as a calling card, sending it to every label he'd heard of and a few that he hadn't. Avary was just finishing up his junior year at Grapevine High School, and he thought he had to have his future settled before high school was over, the same way everyone looks at the world when he's 17. Of course, for most juniors in high school, the future revolves around which college to attend and how soon they can get out of their parents' house, not making the right connections with A&R guys and potential managers.
It's not like Avary's desire for a deal with a record label was some idle teen-age fantasy: The self-titled disc he released, featuring him on every instrument, proved he was ready, more than talented enough for the call up to majors. He'd settle for the minors, sure, but he had the skills and the songs, and what's more, he had the story, the gimmick that marketing departments get sticky just thinking about. He was the complete package, a good-looking 17-year-old with radio-ready songs and the ability to pull it off all by himself. Low overhead, another plus.
"But over the past year, things have changed so much," Avary says now. Yes, he's still fielding calls from interested record labels and possible managers (DreamWorks calls him more than most girlfriends), and no, he isn't thinking about giving up on music just yet. In fact, he's more serious than ever. He's just grown more mature in his approach to his music and his career, deciding not to sign a contract yet, not until the right one comes along, and not until he thinks he's absolutely ready. When he puts out another album, he "wants it to be an amazing record, this amazing thing."
In the meantime, Avary's been spending the past few months at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, preparing for his first live show as The Rocket Summer, at least the first with a band behind him. "I played solo for two years as The Rocket Summer," Avary says, "then I lost that crowd and gained a new one through The Adventure Club." He stopped playing solo shows because he didn't think he could accurately portray the songs he had recorded with just an acoustic guitar in his hands. Backed by a band that includes Adventures of Jet drummer Rob Avsharian, Avary is ready to play again. The group will debut July 14 at Trees as part of The Adventure Club seven-year anniversary concert, along with Chomsky, Legendary Crystal Chandelier, Fred Savage Fanclub, Lift to Experience and The Polyphonic Spree.
The funny thing is, now that he's got a band that can re-create his solo studio work onstage, Avary is ready to retire most of the songs on the EP. "I'm just now finding my sound," Avary says. "I wrote one of those songs when I was 14."
Among the songs he's writing now that he's 18 includes an unfinished track he's co-writing with former That Dog singer-guitarist Anna Waronker. Avary is unquestionably and unashamedly a big fan of Waronker; "Retreat from the Sun is one of the best records ever," he says without prompting. He made a similar comment to an Australian music journalist, who was interviewing him because a compilation featuring a Rocket Summer song was released there. Shortly after, a manager who was trying to woo Avary at the time spotted Waronker in a Los Angeles grocery store and mentioned him to her and gave her Avary's phone number. Since then, they've been writing long-distance, singing to each other over the phone. The work has been slow, since Waronker is in the middle of planning her August wedding to Redd Kross' Steve McDonald, but Avary says she's promised to appear on his album, whenever he's ready to start recording it.
When that will happen, Avary isn't sure. After the Adventure Club show, he's flying to London to meet with Michael Dixon, a manager who works with Ron Sexsmith and Fort Worth-born Shea Seger, among others. Dixon flew from Tokyo to Grapevine to meet with him not long ago, and Avary thinks he finally might have found the guy he was looking for, a man who's got connections that include everyone from Elvis Costello to Coldplay. "This could be it," he says. Which would be good news for everyone involved. Anything that means more music from Avary definitely falls into that category...
After a long, long, long wait--and feel free to add a few more longs--The Legendary Fritz will release his debut, the double-disc Greatest Hits, on July 21 at the Red Blood Club. We've only heard the songs that were on a sampler Fritz gave us more than a year ago, back when the album was called You Leave Me No Choice, but we're pretty sure that the record will live up to its superlative title. After all, Fritz definitely wasn't being facetious when he added Legendary to his name, so there's no need to think he'd steer us wrong this time. Greatest Hits will be available on CD and vinyl, and it's 42 songs long, meaning there's enough Fritz to get us through the gap between albums. Let's just hope it's not as long as last time...
Represent: the pAper chAse plays at a CD release party for its brand-new ctrl-alt-del-u at Curtain Club on July 12, with Budapest One and Mercova; Weener and Pinkston are at Trees on July 13; Pleasant Grove opens for The Sadies at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on July 12. Have fun.