The music of Toronto-based trio Rocketface connects, transports and engages with understated but unmistakable ballast that only the best rock bands can claim. The music of Rocketface isn't easily compartmentalized, it's a total experience, one best consumed whole.
The first thing that hits is the jaw-dropping voice of Joseph Janisse. Soaring, otherworldly, occasionally snarling, and larded with emotion, Janisse sounds like a choirboy with bad habits and heavy issues. But that voice is merely part of the equation.
Janisse is also Rocketface's drummer. That's him, on his riser, in the middle of the stage at a gig. Alongside guitarist Ray Zilli and rhythmic co-conspirator, bassist David Markham, Janisse gives Rocketface something most bands would kill for: a unique angle on top of inventive songwriting and awesome musicianship.
"We're into great music," Janisse says. "We don't want to be a band where it's all style over substance. "Strawberry Fields Forever is a good example of what we're going for," Janisse continues, referencing the Beatles' classic hit. "It's an extremely strange recording but it's a song you can still sing. It's not something you listen to just because you think it's cool. You actually like it for all its strangeness."
"Nine times out of 10 today if you're listening to the radio and the singer isn't singing, you have no idea who the band is," Zilli adds, expanding on Rocketface's modus operandi. "We try to avoid that, and I think we do." Serious sonic freight is likewise evident in Rocketface songs like Pack of Lies, Lit, and Death Never Dies, the latter a crunching guitar-propelled scorcher that lurches between anthemic chorus and jagged melody line.
Not surprisingly, Rocketface's atmospheric, multi-hued sound intrigued noted producer Matt Dematteo, whose dossier includes work with Big Wreck, Danko Jones, and Hawksley Workman. Yet despite stylistic bells and whistles, the three members of Rocketface insist their songwriting is strictly organic, the happy (though seldom easy) byproduct of endless jamming, tweaking, polishing, and perfecting.
"With all our music," Zilli explains, "We jam for hours creating an atmosphere and then suddenly out of the air will come a riff like Pack of Lies. Days later while listening back to it we agreed to develop it further." "Songs start that way," Janisse says, adding that their status as a trio gives them a distinctive dynamic as players. "But songs reach a point where there's a sense of craft and we all agree on it."
"Right," confirms Markham. "Joseph will sing over an idea and then we'll jam on it more to continue the organic growth, and it goes from there." The band's innate rapport is almost a given: the three have written and played together off and on since their high school days in Windsor, Ontario, where the menacing power of Motor City rock and soul seems to exist in the ether. What has kept the band vital and constantly seeking new sonic challenges is an unwavering belief that Rocketface has something meaningful to say and an inimitable way to say it.
"As songwriters, we feel a measure of growth every day. Every day," says Janisse. "If you like music with a psychedelic edge, but that's also totally modern, well, that's what we're about."
Director: Ian MacDonald
Director: Michael Maxxis