5 min read


The scorpion from Rocket From The Crypt's 'Scream, Dracula, Scream!' album cover

Once upon a time I used to do quite a lot of interviews with music magazines or websites. An inevitable question early on would be about favourite bands/music, and I would sometimes get a surprised reaction when I'd reply saying Rocket From the Crypt are one of my favourite bands. I guess because from a certain perspective (perhaps particularly if you're a music journalist?), they are nothing at all like 65daysofstatic. But from my perspective, at least these days, it's all just slightly different flavours of pop music. Rocket from the Crypt, 65daysofstatic, BLACKPINK, Deftones, Squarepusher... it's all basically pop music, right? Song-shaped songs? Presented by one or some musicians, often in a collection of other song-shaped-songs called an album? Pop music. And it's great.


Look. Rocket From the Crypt are one of the greatest bands of all time. And I will now explain why using some terminology I have just made up.

RFTC are experts in what is (as of now) known as the URGENCY LOOP approach to song writing. The URGENCY LOOP is a moment or moments in a song that has otherwise been hovering around a central riff, root note, or chord progression either takes off and ascends or else willingly jumps off a cliff and revels in a barely controlled plummet. Or does both at once.

Here is Come See, Come Saw from Scream, Dracula, Scream!:

It begins with riff after riff after riff. A kind of swaggering assemblage of guitars and brass and attitude. A thousand lesser rock bands build entire careers on this kind of song writing. If this were the whole song, I don't think I'd have much interest in it. BUT! Take a listen, 00:42 - 01:02... That's what an URGENCY LOOP sounds like! It happens again at 01:37 and a third time at 02:56.


No. And I'll tell you why:

  1. Calling it an 'URGENCY LOOP' sounds much cooler.
  2. A good chorus should feel as inevitable as a sunrise. The song should fall into it like it's a welcoming bed, or be carried aloft on it like a surfer catching a wave. A chorus is mountains appearing on the horizon. It is succumbing to the inexorable pull of a blackhole. In contrast, implementing the URGENCY LOOP is to brute force a sunrise on a planet that no longer spins. The URGENCY LOOP is an unnatural tractor beam that drags the song in. It is indifferent to the song's disposition. It is like punching the song into a shadow dimension where everything is 20% less relaxing. A chorus is where the song ought to end up, but an URGENCY LOOP is forever restless, and in the right context, it will literally make your entire heart explode.

Go all the way back to RFTC's early album Circa Now! and you'll find that it has got plenty of good choruses, but they hadn't yet really discovered how to harness the power of the URGENCY LOOP. That is, apart from when the glorious final song Glazed kicks in. Yes, it is 8 minutes long and you probably didn't come to this blog because you wanted to listen to that much 90s rock'n'roll, but I promise you it is worth it.

In this instance the URGENCY LOOP is made all the more remarkable by the song's relatively derivative beginning. Once again, it just sounds like some throwaway riffs. A forgettable b-side. But then, at 01:51. everything changes. (Don't skip straight to it, you need to intro for context). Perhaps this is the birth of RFTC's approach to the URGENCY LOOP? I feel like it’s the archetypal example for them. We hear a shift, a side-step, the song has slipped into some other place. Like China Mieville's The City and The City, this is The Song and The Song. The path-not-taken suddenly in front of us after all. An exhilarating haunting of uncertainty. All bets are off... Listen to it and feel your heart try to burst out of your chest in desperate romance, with the unbridled energy of a rocket from the crypt.

Ok, now let's skip to their final record, Live From Camp X-Ray! (it's not a live album), and its last track Too Many Balls.

They've got the formula down so tight by this point they even squeeze in a mini chorus before launching into the URGENCY LOOP. Here's the breakdown:

00:00: riffs & stuff
00:26: mini-chorus
00:55: riffs & stuff
01:17: mini-chorus
01:25 - end: URGENCY LOOP

This was their last studio album, so in a way this is their last ever song. The final broadcast from RFTC. It's a fitting end to their career, URGENCY-LOOPING until the tape runs out. (And those lyrics too! I accept that frontman Speedo is not quite Judith Butler when it comes to gender discourse, but "Too many balls gonna kill us all..." He's not wrong is he??)

I feel like there's so much more to be said about Rocket From The Crypt and their place in the guitar-heavy musical landscape of the 90s and early 00s. Yes, they were another bunch of white cis-dudes. But their matching uniforms, slick-backed hair and relentlessly positive attitude set them apart from the hulking machismo of nu-metal and angsty post-hardcore and grunge of their peers. And yes, perhaps they could be accused of a kind of nostalgia, dripping in a punkified, stylised Americana or 50’s rock’n’roller aesthetic. But I bet if Fredric Jameson were into RFTC he’d be able to put a ‘utopian impulse’ spin on this, whereby the band are filtering the utopian promise of early rock’n’roll through a punk filter, stripping it of its suburban conservatism, honing down its subversive potential to a fine point.

I'll leave all that to the music critics though and stick to making up music composition techniques and then cherry-picking examples to convince myself they're real.


It is possible to write a song that’s all urgency loop but it’s tricky. Here is the one example I can think of by Joan Baez and Ennio Morricone:

At a push maybe Here Come the Warm Jets could be, although I'm not sure if it possesses enough of that heart-in-your-mouth energy. I wonder if Aren't We All Running? by 65days is one? Could be if you squint. Certainly our back catalogue is absolutely riddled with URGENCY LOOPS, though I'm not sure if we've been bold enough to pull off an entire song that features nothing else. If I hadn't heard that Morricone/Baez song I wouldn't be sure if it was even possible.

Anyway. That's the URGENCY LOOP. You know 'em when you hear 'em. Anybody got any more?