At Last It Can Be Told:
The Semi-True Story of Building Rockets (A Biography)
Building Rockets began in a bedroom on a cassette 4-track, as an attempt to write and record a song every day for as many days as songwriter Sam Heath could manage. A week’s worth of songs and a month or two later, Heath had recruited other musicians to play the songs live and to record more ambitious versions that did not feature his terrible drumming. The songs were power-pop songs, but with severe musical ADHD: taking the trappings of everything from bluegrass to metal to 60’s pop and throwing it in the metaphorical blender. It was a little like The Pixies and Wilco covering Fountains of Wayne songs while “Abbey Road” played in the background.
Forever and Ever Amen, Building Rockets’ third album, was released earlier this fall after a gestation of more than three years. It was worth the wait. Forever and Ever Amen is classic Building Rockets: a quasi-concept album about mortality and self-deception full of melodic power-pop songs buoyed by a maximalist aesthetic and a love for walls of mega-distortion.
After recording the band playing the songs live in bassist Paco’s living room, Heath spent the time between those sessions and the album’s release fleshing the songs out, sometimes overdubbing upwards of 60 or 70 guitar tracks on a single song. Drummer Chris Johnston goes from furious snare rolls and crushing tom work on songs like the brutal “Love Comes to Us All,” to gentle mallet and cymbal fills on quieter songs like “My Exploding Head,” while Paco provides snaky basslines and vocal harmonies.
The record was assembled bit by bit as Heath moved from Building Rockets’ original home of Gainesville, FL, to Austin, TX, then to Vermont, and finally back to Austin. Along the way, the album befell multiple computer failures and a flood that destroyed Heath’s home studio, but miraculously, the recording computer and the record on it survived all of the would-be disasters, unlike the guitar that graces its cover. Heath is currently working on writing and recording new songs and playing shows around Austin.