Apollo 9

Scream, Vancouver, Scream!

Sax man Apollo 9 of Rocket from the Crypt

Interview by Jason Kapalka
Live photography by Rodney Gitzel

excerpt from "Young Livers" (330 Kb .au file)

Rocket from the Crypt, San Diego's gift to rock, roll, and bowling shirts, are currently blitzing the nation on the Warped Tour. In the last year, they've courted Rolling Stone and MTV and released a new record, Scream, Dracula, Scream!, on Interscope... and cranked out several vinyl-only indie releases like Hot Charity and undertaken a free concert tour which resulted in them having to sell off much of their equipment. Oh, the dichotomy! At once a darling of the alternative press and a favorite of the great unwashed beer-&-potatoes gutbucket rock proletariat, RFTC have already assembled a legion of tattooed slaves to assist them in their stated goal of world domination.

the RftC horn section We caught up with Apollo 9, Rocket's laconic sax player, soon after the Warped Tour hit Vancouver. If punk sax strikes you as odd, you haven't heard Apollo and JC2000 (on trumpet) blowing up a storm on tunes like "Young Livers" or "Drop Out," combining punk sneer with doo-wop 50's harmony for a Sha-Na-Na-on-amphetamines effect.

Drop-D: What'd you think of Vancouver?

Apollo 9: Well, I'm not really much into the border guards. But once you get past them, yeah, Vancouver's awesome. I love Vancouver. I got asked a lot of questions about death in Canada, though. Are you Canadians obsessed with death?

It's the isolation thing. You get cut off from other people, you get...


I was gonna say 'contemplative.' Did you find Canadians 'polite'?

Yeah, except for the Border Patrol, they're just Americans minus guns.

Speedo But we have universal medicare.

Yeah, but your cigarettes cost like 8 bucks a pack.

Okay, forget it. Do you see any contradiction in the band's schizophrenic big-label-and-MTV-today, indie-release-tomorrow attitude?

The whole band can be a contradiction. We're doing the indie label stuff because we can, and the major label stuff because we can. We can do both of them, so why not? It doesn't matter to me if it comes out on Interscope or it comes out on Sympathy. It's out there and that's what's important. There's a lot of uncharted territory out there that needs to be rediscovered, rehashed, or whatever. People forget about things. Rock and roll is a pretty huge palette for us, all the stuff from earlier periods. Some people say 'That's not rock,' but in 1958, it was. Or in 1972 it was. Lately I've been getting into a lot of white soul stuff, Small Faces and so on, white guys trying to play soul music. Who knows what rock or punk are today, really? I still get disillusioned by the whole scene quite a lot, but it reinvents itself to me almost on a daily basis.

You guys don't seem to take yourself too seriously. I heard you telling complete lies on this radio show, about how Scream, Dracula, Scream! had gone platinum in two weeks and things like that. And yet, you do get the impression that the band is committed to the music in a fairly serious way.

Apollo and ND I think everybody would like to be great, in spite of themselves. So, as for taking the band seriously... on the one hand, it's like our lives. And on the other hand... it's... you know... rock and roll. You kind of feel stupid if you take yourself too seriously. I went to see Vince Neil, Warrant and Slaughter last night, and you know, these people think this stuff is REAL. You have to take it with a grain of salt.

Vince Neil & Warrant?!?

I think they must be really frustrated. When Green Day hit 5 million records, what were these guys thinking? They musta been freaking out. Now they're playing little clubs and Green Day's playing stadiums or whatever. And they're not getting any younger... I think it's pretty funny.

If you could be in a hair band from the 80's, which one would it be?

Well, Ratt was from San Diego... they were from [bassist] Petey X's neighbourhood. I'd probably take the Crue, though. They seemed bigger than the other guys. They were definitely getting laid a lot.

The CD for All Systems Go! had the memorable inscription 'Garth Brooks is a Dick' scrawled on it. What's the story with Garth?

Oh, that was at a time when he was kicking up a lot of shit about used CD's, preventing stores from taking back CD's after people bought em. And you know, CD's are cheaper to make than records. If you don't like a CD, why shouldn't you be able to bring it back? It was probably Garth Brooks records that were coming back by the shitload. Records sound better than CD's anyway.

'Scream, Dracula, Scream!' CD cover Speaking of which, at one point I was getting 7" records from you guys in the mail after I sent you a bunch of letters in crayon.

I'm sure you're still on the list. We haven't had time to do anything recently, but we're still doing it. You the guy who sends me stickers and crap all the time?

No. More like primitive cave art.

Oh. There's some guy who sends me these things from Canada covered in stickers and shit. You're not that guy?

Nope. So how come the Circa Now! record and CD were made up to look like Pac-Man Fever?

That was a last minute thing that went in like the day before the artwork got sent to the printer. I didn't even expect it when I opened it up.

I wish you'd just called Circa Now! Pac-Man Fever instead. And I wish you'd covered "Pac-Man Fever," the Buckner & Garcia song.

'Got a quarter in my pocket and I'm goin' to the ar-cade... ' Well, we haven't done many covers. That was a weird time in my life, though, the Pac-Man era. Pac-Man just took off so quick. One day there was a new game at the arcade, and three weeks later everyone in the world knew what Pac-Man was. It was an easy game to figure out. You weren't trying to save the world, you were just, you know, eating dots.

Apollo 9 Kind of zen. So what do you think of the Warped Tour so far?

It's... interesting. Lots of waiting around. It's a long day. And then just thirty minutes of play. I'd rather be in a club, getting a sound check every day, but... we're here, we're making the best of it. Hoping some people will check it out, understand it, have a good time. And the audience is a little different from what we're used to. There are a couple of bands in Warped who don't quite fit in, and I think we're one of them. Better than Lollapalooza, though... at least I don't have a forty-five dollar ticket hanging over my head with those kids.

So, before we wrap this up, seeing as this is sort of a web magazine, and that I'm billing this long distance phone call to the computer company where I work, I have to ask you what you think about the Internet.

We're pretty lame about it. There's a guy in Ohio who wants to put up a ... whaddya call it? Web site? That's my only real contact with stuff like that. Crank it or Spank it, or something like that. I didn't know anything about it until a week ago. He asked if he could keep doing it...

Yeah, it's great!

Oh, okay then, I guess we won't sue him after all.

Well, thanks. And finally, how's the record doing?

I have no idea. People seem to like it. But I suppose they could be blowing smoke up my ass.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 2, 1996

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