About the band
Rocket Club is a songwriters' band in progress.
So says the mini manifesto written inside the band’s self-titled 2008 debut and so maintains the group today as it readies for the release of its first new studio album in 8 years. Talk to anyone in the band and you’ll hear the same message: it’s all about the songs.
Launched in 2008 and hailing from Minneapolis, Rocket Club achieved something over their first 6 years together that no other Minnesota band has before or since: three songs on the Billboard country charts as an unsigned, independent act. That success brought a large and loyal Midwest following, along with the opportunity to share the stage with many of Nashville’s biggest stars – and all of it while relying entirely on their own ability to write and record the music they wanted to make and to do it their own way.
After releasing its fourth studio record (Lucky) in 2014, the band went on an indefinite hiatus. Much to their surprise however, even though they were no longer making music, their music continued to make fans.
Fast forward to today and Rocket Club is readying itself for atmospheric re-entry with a new record and a new tour. While the genre-bending band has always been hard to define, one thing about them is very clear: whatever happens, the songs will lead the way.
Rocket Club (From Left to Right)
Chris Hawkey - Vocals
Billy Thommes - Drums
Matt Kirkwold - Guitars, Vocals
Don Smithmier - Vocals, Keyboards
Brian Kroening - Guitars
Joel Sayles - Vocals, Bass, Guitars
The Back Story
The self-titled debut release, Rocket Club, introduces audiences to a country original. From the hard-driving energy of “Heart Won’t Stop” to the soul and poetry of “Holdin’ On,” founding members Don Smithmier, Brian Kroening, Chris Hawkey and Matt Kirkwold reveal a shared love of the songwriting craft and a gift for vocal harmony.
Two world-class players, Billy Thommes on drums and Joel Sayles on bass/vocals, join Rocket Club. In one of the first collaborations in its new formation, the band writes “One More Day” and stations around the country add it to their playlists in response to a groundswell of fan support. The song lands on the Billboard Hot Country chart for nine weeks, breaking the Top 50. The unexpected success caught the country music movers and shakers in Nashville by surprise, and they wanted more.
Momentum multiplies with the release of the EP American Serenade and the single, “One Thing Beautiful.” The band’s second nationally-charting country music radio hit spent 14 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Country chart. The success of that single sent the band across America playing live shows with some of country music's biggest stars.