On this week’s podcast, we’re revisiting a conversation we had in 2015 with Madison-based musician Kyle Urban, also known as Kyle Motor, about his latest musical project, Rocket Bureau.
Urban is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and recording engineer. He’s also a bit of a stickler for power-pop—so of course he favors loud guitar hooks, classic song structures, goofy lyrics about women, add so forth. So I was surprised in 2015 when he put out an EP titled Low times, High Anxiety.
Like all of Rocket Bureau’s output so far, it features Motor playing all the instruments and recording himself to analog tape in his North Side basement. It’s still a power-pop record, but the songs are pretty overt about exploring loneliness, social anxiety, insomnia, and other personal subjects. On the opening track, “Terrified,” Motor lays down a surging, swaggering riff but sings about freaking out internally at a crowded party: “Can’t fucking breathe here / Tied up in knots / Maybe a drink will help, yeah / Gimme all you got.” There are also a few sonic departures here, especially the dreamy acoustic bedroom-psych of “I Don’t Sleep Well.”
Since we talked in 2015, Urban has put together a live version of Rocket Bureau, which will be playing on July 8 at Mickey’s Tavern. He put out another Rocket Bureau release in 2016, titled Phantoms Ringing 67-73, which compiled some previous singles and a few new tracks. Right now he’s also working on a new Rocket Bureau album with the project’s live lineup, with Dan Bornemann on bass, Josh Labbus on guitar, and Paul Kennedy on drums.