In 2009 3 middle-aged gentlemen from the South of Netherlands decided it was time for a career switch. The felt they were too young for playing cards or petanque, so they decided to pick up their former activities as a musician. They added a drummer and were ready to go as a four piece band called the Rocket Fuel Lighters. However in 2012, the singer Rob left the band and they started a fruitless search to replace him. Eventually the members randomly chose guitar player Thijs as their new singer. So the next step for the band was the recording studio, which resulted in the 8 track CD “Houston, we have a problem”.
Currently, after a drummer change, the band is comprised of Armando de Wolf (Bass), Patrick Kaerts (Drums) and Thijs Creemers (Guitars/Vocals). Music is most effective when it transports the listener — whether it be to another place, time, mood or experience. “Houston, we have a problem” does all of those things.
The playing is as good as, and sometimes better than you might expect from 4 experienced middle-aged guys. The result is a collection of extremely tight and intricately arranged pieces that feature nimble guitar work and robust rhythms. In short, this album is an exceptionally fine example of classic melodic rock from a mature band.
From track one, “feel alive”, the punch, depth, and clarity are breathtaking. As if the sound weren’t enough, the songs feature focused songwriting and arranging, which reaches its apex on the steamrolling groove of tracks like “we are young” and “forever and ever”.
The tracks flow seamlessly and the album closes on an extremely high note with the funky “out of reach”. All throughout though, the songs bring back fond memories of the music I listened to growing up – superb musicianship and vocal performances, while underlying it all is a thunderous rhythm section.
The raw power of the lyrics is apparent in the instrumentals as well. Something great that Rocket Fuel Lighters does in this album is have the vocals and instrumentals so well interwoven thematically that you can’t imagine one without the other.
“Houston, we have a problem” also demonstrates the band’s ability to write tight compositions that fuse rock and pop influences seamlessly. We can hear not only great crunchy guitar sounds accompanied by thumping bass and drums, but also great melodies and harmonies.
This album is a must-have for any rock record collection, especially if you came through the sounds of 70s and 80s. There isn’t quite another classic rock band like Rocket Fuel Lighters in this day and age. They create a great listening experience which is fun and upbeat, kicks ass, and has some seriously interesting lyrics.
If we were back in the golden era of rock, this stuff would be filling the radio airwaves and probably catapulting Rocket Fuel Lighters into overnight success. Sadly we’re in another era, but that doesn’t mean we cannot savor real music anymore. With bands like Rocket Fuel Lighters still around we continue to have food for our rocking souls.