When AP spoke with A Rocket To The Moon frontman Nick Santino in February for the band’s feature in AP 298, the singer was excited about the future. After more than a year in limbo, the group’s second full-length for Fueled By Ramen, Wild & Free, was finally set for release, and Santino was looking forward to bringing the band’s new country-flecked brand of pop to masses beyond the Warped Tour universe.
So it was at somewhat surprising when, just six weeks after Wild & Free dropped, ARTTM announced they were calling it quits—a move made even more puzzling, considering the group are set to join the Maine on the road this summer. To get to the bottom of things, we caught up with Santino while he ran errands in and around Braintree, Massachusetts to discuss the past, present and future of Rocket and why the band’s seven-year run had to end now.
We talked not more than two months ago. I didn’t expect to be having this conversation with you right now.
[Laughs.] I know, I know. I wasn’t either, honestly.
The announcement was very out-of-the-blue, especially after you just released Wild & Free. What happened?
The last year has been a real headache; the last eight months have been kind of weird. Just to start off, the four of us are still best friends. Justin [Richards, guitarist] and I actually went off to do a little charity show last weekend in Florida. Usually, bands break up and there are stories about the singer being a douche and the other guys starting a new band. That’s not us; there was no big blowup.
It was something we’d been talking about for a few months, honestly. The music business isn’t really that fun a place. It’s a lot of sit around and wait for answers from the powers that be. You’ll get told a different answer every time you ask something. It got to a point where we were just ready to try something different. We wanted to keep progressing and for our record to do well, but whoever is in charge of that wasn’t really helping us out too much.
There was also a lot of personnel turnover at the label, which made Wild & Free sit on the shelf for a while.
Yeah, it took us forever to get a release date. I still don’t know why it took so long. It was a real bummer and kind of embarrassing. We were just sitting around at home doing nothing. It really took a toll on us, and we were bummed out. We had a great record, and then it didn’t really do anything when it did come out. You kinda go, “Well it’s not us! What happened?” Plus, we had been sitting at home for so long that our management couldn’t really work with us anymore. It was kind of expected; we hadn’t done much over the last year. We’re still great friends with our manager. We’re lucky he stuck around as long as he did. Once that decision was made, it made us think about doing other things.
Was there a point when the record kept getting pushed back that you said, “If you don’t want to put it out, give it to us and we’ll do it ourselves”?
It almost kinda came down to that. We finished the record last February, and we went off to do some international stuff. We ended up getting a phone call in Australia telling us we needed to go back and put another song on the record: “Write a single.” We did that, and then there was a little radio campaign that disappeared really quick. The record got pushed to August, then September, then October, then January. We were like, “Come on, give us a date,” and almost to make us happy they gave us March 26.
Did you fulfill your contract with Fueled By Ramen, or do you still owe them albums?
We’re working through all that stuff right now. The label has been a family for the past five years. It’s nothing personal; it’s just the business and sometimes business isn’t very friendly.