PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Rocket from the Crypt: R.I.P.

The last rockin’ hurrah from San Diego’s premier meaty, melodic punk band.

Rocket From the Crypt


Label: Vagrant
US Release Date: 2008-02-26
UK Release Date: 2008-02-25

Few band names can instantly transport me back to the year 1995 like Rocket From the Crypt. I hear those four words and boom, I’m back in my tiny teenage bedroom, staring at the boob tube late on a Sunday night as Matt Pinfield’s gravely voice bulldozes my ears immediately before the colorful, humorous “On a Rope” video. The scenes of the big greaser dudes playing with puppies are funny, but the song isn’t really doing it for me and this is about the 18th time I’ve seen the damn video. I lower the volume, consider the ramifications of masturbating to the issue of Rolling Stone with Demi Moore on the cover that’s directly under my bed, and ultimately decide to go to sleep so I can be fresh as a daisy for another brutalizing week of the 11th grade.

Yes, I’m sad to say RFTC never lit a musical fire under my ass. While they were certainly rockin’ in every sense of the word, they didn’t have quite the same oomph or panache as, say, a Reverend Horton Heat or a Gluecifer. That reminds me: Gluecifer’s last gig ever was a supporting slot for the Crypt’s final East coast show at the corporate pile of b.s. that is New York’s Hard Rock Cafe, a show I actually attended for free, thanks to the miracle of knowing a guy who knew a guy. And I walked out of that cramped, dark venue the minute Gluecifer was done. So disinterested in Rocket was I that getting in my car and driving an hour and a half back up the Saw Mill Parkway to rural Connecticut was more appealing at that moment than sticking around for RFTC’s semi-generic brand of rock 'n’ roll. I chose ill-lit, dangerous roadways late at night in favor of free Rocket from the Crypt. That’s where I was in 2005.

Three years can really change a man, though. I can openly admit now, after checking out this CD/DVD package of Rocket’s honest-to-God last gig, I regret the hasty decision I made on that fateful New York night oh so long ago. Recorded at the Westin Ballroom in their hometown of San Diego on All Hallow’s Eve, 2005, mere days after the performance I skipped out on, R.I.P. highlights that RFTC was a fun, loose live act who knew how to keep a crowd moving with plenty of hip-shaking riffage and general energy. “Let’s start from the very beginning,” says jovial singer Speedo before the band kicks into the meaty slammer that is “French Guy”, the first song from Rocket’s first album Paint As a Fragrance. From there it’s just one driving, melodic chunk of rock after another. “I’m Not Invisible”, “Get Down”, “Pigeon Eater” –- these tunes are all perfectly suited to be the average rocker’s soundtrack for a night spent cruisin’ around town or chilling in the backyard with a cooler full of brewskis. I certainly would take these sounds now over the scratchy old Shadow radio program cassettes I listened to on the way home from the Crypt show I didn’t see.

The R.I.P. DVD reveals not only that Rocket from the Crypt played a longer set than what’s featured on the CD, but that they played the entire damn thing in costume. It was Halloween, after all. Speedo was sporting a great Screamin’ Jay Hawkins outfit, complete with nose bone; that explains the band’s decision to open the show with an instrumental version of “I Put a Spell on You”. The rest of RFTC were zombie tribesmen (?) from an unidentified Pacific island. I want to say maybe the natives from King Kong? At any rate, there were grass skirts and skull makeup. It was a nice motif, but it eventually went out in favor of matching magenta sparkly shirts. Remember kids, it ain’t a real rock n’ roll show unless there are costume changes.)

Rocket from the Crypt chose to end their career with “Come See Come Saw”. This allowed the group to go out on a funky, bass-driven note for all of eternity (as opposed to going out on a gloomy, buzzing keyboard drone for all of eternity). Near the tune and his band’s completion, Speedo lovingly thanks the crowd and informs them, “If you ever feel nostalgic, just put on a record and we’ll be there in that room with you, ladies and gentlemen.” It’s a sweet sentiment and a great example of the attitude that probably kept this band as popular as they were for as long as they were. Of course, the rockin’ songs didn’t hurt (nor did the Fonzie-style hairdos, nor the cute puppies in their videos, nor the “get a tattoo of the RFTC logo, get in to our shows free forever” gimmick).

It should be noted that the cover of R.I.P. features one of those wacky optical illusions that will have you staring at it for hours until both of your eyes explode into small rivers of blood. Do not look directly at the cover of this album for more than two minutes at a time, especially if you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or are just incredibly old and fragile. You have been warned.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.