Leslie Rich & the Rocket Soul Choir released The Butcher Boy, the long-awaited follow-up to their lauded EP Kidder’s Son, in January 2021. Drawing comparisons to America’s most revered rock songwriters like Tom Petty and John Mellencamp, Belfast-born Leslie Rich writes songs that are immediate and timeless, whether singing about unrequited love, hitting rock bottom or just finding the will to keep going in the face of extreme hardship. Together with his Minnesota-based trio, he makes perfectly crafted pop songs that showcase the band’s tight groove and Americana-inspired harmonies, delivering joy and optimism at a time when we need it most.
The newly reconfigured Rocket Soul Choir features Leslie Rich (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Pete Boulger (drums, percussion, keyboards), and Atom Robinson (bass, vocals, piano, organ). The group spent nine days last winter in northern Minnesota, holing up at Sparta Sound Studios with renowned engineer and producer Rich Mattson (Trampled By Turtles, Ol’ Yeller, Dan Israel) and recorded all the tracks together. This time allowed the band to collaborate in a deeper way than on Leslie Rich’s previous projects. “Pete is a fantastic arranger, Atom is a historian, and both are way more musical than myself,” Leslie says. “We got to really focus on writing and arranging together, and the songs are better for it.”
Musically and thematically, the songs are upbeat, channeling a positive rock vibe that can’t help but lift the listener up from whatever dark place they might be in. “Cozy on the Bathroom Floor” and “If Love Is Nothing Wrong” are about finding the light in those hard times while tunes like “When Fear Wasn’t a Word” and “Not Getting Out” are about not backing down and persisting in the face of adversity.
“I wrote ‘Not Getting Out’ from the point of view of an unwelcome immigrant,” Leslie says. “But it’s really for anyone in the streets trying to get their voice heard. It’s a song of encouragement--to keep singing, keep marching and keep rebuking hatred.” The song feels particularly relevant now, after a tumultuous year in the band’s hometown of Minneapolis where people are still collectively grieving, protesting and striving for positive change following the killing of George Floyd.
Leslie Rich & the Rocket Soul Choir have made the rock album we need right now--exploring our messy, imperfect lives but recognizing the beauty and potential of all of us to make this world a better place.