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By Derek James
/ CBS Minnesota
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Rehearsals are underway as Minnesota’s favorite band from the “North Country,” Rocket Club is back together.
Don Smithmier and Brian Kroening started Rocket Club in 2008 which quickly expanded to include Hawkey of KFAN.
“The thing that sticks out in my mind is singing a Crosby Stills and Nash song and just thinking I hope these guys are loving this as much as I am because this is my dream come true,” said Chris Hawkey, lead singer of Rocket Club.
With its original songs and hair-raising harmonies, Rocket Club took off like its name.
“One show led to the next show. Our first record got some great response. Then we wrote a new song that ended up on the national country Billboard charts,” said Smithmier, singer/songwriter with Rocket Club.
“One More Day” was the first of three records from the band to chart between 2009-2011. The guys enjoyed the success, but the grind was wearing them down.
“Went after the national thing, played a lot of great shows. Just had a run that we couldn’t believe but we were also raising families and working real jobs,” said Hawkey.
The band played its final show at the Varsity in 2014.
“We all needed some space from each other when it ended — some healing,” explained Smithmier.
Then during the pandemic, a reunion.
“Joel Sayles, our bass player, one my best friends, surprised me by bringing these guys over the night of my birthday and we hadn’t seen each other in six years. And we sat right by the piano where we were just playing and we played through our catalog the whole night and it was unbelievable,” said Smithmier.
Some more time passed as the guys continued to work on new music. Smithmier and Sayles had a song they really liked and decided to call the old gang.
“I think Joel decided maybe we’ll just grab Matt to play guitar, we’ll get Chris to sing it, and Billy to drum it. And suddenly we realized we had a Rocket Club song. We weren’t planning on it, said Kroening, songwriter and guitar for Rocket Club.
That song, “Easy” sparked the return of Rocket Club, the new album “Come on Home” and a new tour. Something they are grateful to do again as good friends.
“To be sitting here on the couch with these guys and playing music with those guys again, it’s more than a dream come true. It literally is a second chance to hopefully do it right this time,” said Hawkey.
That decision over eight years ago to put family first and the time they spent apart is among the new perspectives shared in the new album.
“The time that we were away, all of our kids, the ones that have kids in the band, grew up and went off to college, into the real world. The title track, ‘Come on Home’ is actually about how you feel when those kids and people in your life go away. So very powerful that way,” said Kroening.
“For every set of ears that listened to us, every set of eyes that ever saw us, we appreciate the past, and are looking forward to creating more memories in the future,” said Hawkey.
Tickets are now on sale for six Rocket Club shows around the state. They’ll play the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis on Saturday, April 8. The new album, “Come on Home,” drops Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Click here to learn more about Rocket Club.
Derek James anchors Saturday and Sunday evening newscasts and contributes stories during the week on “The 4.”
First published on January 20, 2023 / 4:51 PM
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©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.