A Rocket To The Moon is comprised of lead singer Nick Santino, guitarist Justin Richards, bassist Eric Halvorsen and drummer Andrew Cook. They’ve been around since 2006 when Nick started the band in his bedroom. A little down the road, they’ve matured into their sound. It’s a unique mix of pop-rock and country- the kind of mix that could put them on a pop, alternative rock or country radio station. One of those bands that you could just picture everywhere. They definitely have the ability to cross over the border into the country music world and possibly take over.
ARTTM has created a strong following from their first record, On Your Side, and from continuously touring. For their sophomore record, the band worked with famed country producer Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts). They took their time with the writing and recording process- making Wild & Free extremely special for fans. The record comes out on March 26th!
I had the chance to chat with the super sweet Nick Santino- a guy known for his ever-changing hairstyles and charming personality.
Hello Nick, how are you?
Good, how are you?
Good, thanks. Excited for the new record to come out?
Yeah, real excited.
So you worked with Stephen Barker Liles from Love and Theft on the new record and I’ve seen you cover Taylor Swift multiple times, would we ever see you on a country music tour?
I would love to! That’d be awesome.
Do you have any artists in mind that you’d want to tour with?
I’d love to tour with Love and Theft. I think it’d be a cool little mix of bands for a tour. I’d love to go with anybody that asks us. If Rascal Flatts asked us to come on tour, I’d do it! Hunter Hayes would also be really cool to tour with.
From listening to ‘You’re My Song’, I see that you’re inspired by a lot of classics like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Beatles, are there any new artists that inspire you?
Honestly, I listen to everything. I don’t really hate. One of my favorite artists right now is Katy Perry. That doesn’t mean our band sounds like Katy Perry, but you know, I listen to a little bit of everything from Johnny Cash to Katy Perry to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Yeah, I’d say even One Direction. I find a lot of their shit really catchy. I definitely don’t discriminate when it comes to different styles of music.
I could totally see your stuff on the radio right next to Katy Perry and One Direction and country music artists for sure.
Yeah, that’d be amazing.
Speaking of artists on the radio, you guys do give me a Taylor Swift vibe, like a guy band version.
We hear that a lot. It’s kind of a cool thing to hear.
Any favorites off the new record?
I really like the Ed Sheeran duet that she did, but her new record honestly isn’t my favorite Taylor Swift album. I think Fearless is still her best. She hasn’t yet topped it. She’s put out some great music and great albums, but I think Fearless is her best.
Off your new record, if people didn’t listen to your band before, what song would you tell them to listen to?
Hmm that’s a good question. Well, my favorite song on the album is a song called ‘Where Do We Go’ and it doesn’t necessarily define the album. It’s kind of the one song that stands out. It’s a little bit more country than the rest of them, but that’s my favorite one and it was my favorite one writing. I think that would be a cool one to show people. For sure. That’s usually the first one that I show people when I show like friends and family the record.
How was recording in Nashville?
It was incredible. Such a cool experience. Very relaxed. You know, everything was at a nice pace. It didn’t feel like anything was rushed. It was just a really good vibe. I can’t wait to do the next record because we’ll probably just do it at the same place with the same people.
Are there any big summer tour plans?
We actually just confirmed one this morning for all of June and all of July. We’re not headlining. We haven’t announced it yet, but when they announce, we’ll announce it. I think that will be our real big tour for when we put the album out. I can’t wait to announce it. It’s gonna be good.
Is there a song that you can’t wait to perform live for your fans?
Yeah! The album will be out for like 2 months by the time we go on that tour, so we’ll be able to play a lot of the new songs. There’s a song called ‘If I’m Gonna Fall In Love’ that we’ve kind of played before just at like soundchecks and stuff in the past. It’s always such a fun song to play together. So I can’t wait to play that one. And probably ‘Wherever You Go’. We’ll probably just go through the list and see which ones we want to bust out for that tour.
I read a quote that you and Eric Halvorsen had a similar first kiss story- both while watching A Walk to Remember. Any other funny stories come up while writing the record?
Um let me think. Yeah, that one was funny because we were writing a song about our first kiss. I remember we were in the van or wherever we were and I was like, “Yeah, my first kiss was with this girl Sarah at the movies in 8th grade at the opening night of A Walk to Remember.” Right when I said that Halvo was like, “Are you kidding me? Mine was during the opening night of A Walk to Remember!” It was just funny because we were both like, “Are you serious? That was mine too! Dude, we could’ve been kissing at the exact same time and had no idea.” Now when we talk about it on stage before we play ‘First Kiss’, we’re like, “Alright, this song is about me and Eric’s first kiss.” And the audience is like, “What?”
In unison, Nick and I both say, “Wait? Together?”
Yeah, I don’t know. We probably have some ridiculous stories. Actually our song that’s on…we have two versions of the album coming out- the standard version has 13 songs on it and the other is the deluxe and it has four bonus tracks on it. Two of the bonus tracks on the deluxe record are new songs that didn’t quite make the record and one of them is called ‘Call It All Home’. It’s kind of like an autobiography of A Rocket to the Moon in one song. The lyrics are like “started back then in the summer ’07 makin’ music in the old garage.” Stuff like that. The chorus is all talking about where we’re all from since half of us are from Massachusetts and the other two are from Arizona and California. We put all of that in the chorus of the song, then all the verses are tour stories. We didn’t put it on the actual album because we were afraid kids would hear it and be like, “I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about.” It’s all kinda inside jokes and stuff that has happened to us on the road. Like, we talk about this guy from Philadelphia whose dad always comes to our shows in Philly. In the second verse of that song, we say something like, “Drank beer with a really cool dad that likes to get loose in Philly.” It’s really cool. Every time we hear it, we kinda smile because we’re like, “Ohhh I remember that! I remember that!” It’s kinda cool, like a different way of writing. And people will be hearing that song like, “What in the hell are they talking about? A vegan in snakeskin boots? What does that even mean!?”
That’s really cool though! I’ve never heard a band actually write a song like an autobiography.
Yeah, I mean, every interview that we do for the most part people ask us, “Where you guys from?” And then we say four different states and they’re like, “Whoa! How did that happen?” And then we have to explain the story, so now we can just play the song and say, “Hear ya go! This should answer all your questions.” We have an interesting story of the band and how we came together and now we have a song about it.
Your music video for ‘Ever Enough’ came out great. I love the cinematography. (Check it out below!)
Yeah, it really came out beautiful. I’m impressed.
It stars Debby Ryan (Disney Channel actress). How did the two of you meet?
I met her three years ago almost exactly. It was like the end of February in 2010. We were doing the Take Action Tour. We were playing the Hollywood House of Blues and our friend Brian, a singer for a band called The Summer Set, came on the road with us. I think we picked him up in Arizona and he just kinda road with us for a couple of days. And we ended up playing in L.A. and he was like, “Hey my friend Debby wants to come to the show..if that’s cool? She’s been a fan of your music for awhile, so she kind of wants to see you live.” I was like, “Hell yeah, that’d be awesome! Bring her out.” And so she came to the show. We hung out all night and she was really cool. And we stayed in contact for a bit. We ended up playing in Vancouver in the fall of 2010 with Hanson and she was up in Vancouver filming a movie for the Disney Channel. She had a couple of days off, so she came to the show and we hung out for a couple of days. We just kind of talked a lot and grew our relationship there. We became really good friends. Then she came to New York City in December for a meeting with somebody. So I was like, “Hey, when you’re in New York, you should meet up with my label, Fueled By Ramen!” She was like, “I’d love to. I love that label. I love all the bands on it.” So she met up with them and someone from the label was like, “Debby, you should be in the video!” It kind of all fell into place. I didn’t even know they were talking about it and she called me and she was like, “Guess who’s going to be in your video?” I was like, “Who?” And she was like “You’re talking to her!” And I was like, “Hell yeah! That’s amazing!” Oh, she must’ve just heard her ears ringing or something because she was just beeping in on the phone.
Well, I’ll let you go, so you can call Debby back. Thank you so much for taking the time out in your day to talk. It was awesome talking to you!
Yeah, good talking to you too! Can’t wait to read it when it comes out! Thank you very much for calling.
As you can see, Nick’s a pretty sweet guy. Check out Wild & Free on March 26th and catch the boys on their summer tour!
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