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On a Grand Mission

Interview with the Rocket Men, who opened the Elbphilharmonie’s new series »Made in Hamburg«.

Rocket Men was formed in spring 2016 by a group of friends from Hamburg, Leipzig und Berlin. The band takes its inspiration »from the boundlessness of the universe and the freedom of jazz«. And the six lads want to take the audience with them on their journey into space.

Interview with the Rocket Men

Philipp Püschel Answers More Questions

One of your songs opens with a quotation: »Don't ever be a Rocket Man…

…ʼcause when youʼre out there, you wanna be here. And when youʼre here, you wanna be there.« – this is a line by American sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, from his short story »The Rocket Man«. It’s the story of an astronaut who tells his son about his voyages into outer space – and about the astronaut’s dilemma that when he’s out in space, he feels totally homesick; but when he’s back on Earth, he can hardly wait to take off again. It’s a nice story that gave us a lot of ideas, as well as supplying the name of the band.

Rocket Men

You regularly incorporate soundbites into your songs. Where do these come from?

A lot of these fragments are taken from original recordings from NASA Mission Control. There’s a lot of this stuff on the web; we listened to the recordings of different space missions – the first moon landing, Apollo 13 and so on –, and used excerpts in our songs.

When we’re writing a new song, we imagine that we’re sitting in a rocket in outer space and looking down at things on Earth.

Philipp Püschel

How do you go about making a new song?

Our songs are mostly based on personal experiences. Last autumn, for example, we were all in Nepal together. We were walking through the old city in Kathmandu, and it’s really hectic and crazy on the street there, far too much traffic, more cars than people. We recorded the background noise, and tried to convert it into music back home. When we’re writing a new song, we imagine that we’re sitting in a rocket in outer space and looking down at things on Earth: in this case, at Kathmandu.

Rocket Men

A personal question for the astronaut: What three things would you take on a space voyage that may not return to Earth?

A notebook, a video camera and an instrument – probably a trumpet: that’s my favourite instrument.

Rocket Men at the Elbjazz Festival
Rocket Men at the Elbjazz Festival © Björn Buddenbohm

Last but not least a few details about the band: Which band member is (a) best at discovering new music? (b) the best dancer? (c) has the best haircut? And (d) would be the best astronaut?

(a) I guess Valentin and myself – we’re always on the lookout for interesting music from all over the world. (b) Valentin! He lived in Brazil for a while – that’s a country where you can't avoid dancing. (c) Lasse! (d) If the band was a crew, Felix would definitely be the captain.

Rocket Men

Which pub in Hamburg do you go to after rehearsal sessions?

»Mutter« on Pferdemarkt.