Too much too soon
It ain't rocket science for the dudes of 455
Published: August 17, 2011
Walz smiles and drags from his cigarette. "I think we did a service to the rest of the bands in Detroit by staying out of the scene and allowing them to tour without us overshadowing anybody. There was some friendly competition amongst the bands to try to kick ass. We didn't play the game the way everyone else did. The White Stripes got PR and did that angle right. The Go got a manager at some point. Everyone started trying to book tours at that point. ... Anyway, we weren't the best musicians, but we let it all hang out at every show. We had heart."
Delicato agrees. "During the Gold Dollar era, Rocket 455's focus was on having a good live performance, getting 75 to 100 people good and riled up," the guitarist says. "That's what we concentrated on. Steve and Ken were integral — an awesome rhythm section. With Steve and Ken behind you, the three of us could completely fail and it still sounded great. There were plenty of shows where we would all walk on stage stone sober and walk off totally shit-faced. That came through in the shows. We led the crowd in terms of partying and having fun."
So that, apparently, was that. After a series of 45s and EPs that were eventually compiled by Get Hip Records into the 2001 Go to Hell album, the band split at the end of '99 and played a couple of reunion shows over the following two years. Then, 10 years of nothing, until now.
"In 2008, we had a band called Exit Eyes," Delicato says. "We played just three shows, and that was Jeff, Mark and myself. Fast-forward to 2011. Jeff came to us with an opportunity for Rocket 455 to play. We got together and practiced and it sounded better than when we played last. We all still like each other and like playing, and we're fortunate to have found a group of people that still like us."
That's true. History has certainly been kind to the band, if not financially, then in terms of stature. People too young to have seen Rocket have heard stories of rock 'n' roll greatness — how they were the shoulda-coulda band, who influenced many in their wake, who broke up too soon — and that has helped turn the forthcoming reunion show into an event. "I think there's a lot of people that were too young to have seen us, but read about Jack White talking about us," Meier says. "That might have something to do with the excitement. I don't think it's going to be a rehashing of old memories or anything. We've got a bunch of new stuff we want to do, a bunch of old stuff that hopefully we'll play better than we used to."
"And we'll be slightly more sober," Walz adds.
Rocket 455, along with Simply Saucer and SROS Lords, plays on Saturday, Aug. 20, at New Center Park, 2990 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit.
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