Elliott Smith’s pre-solo band, Heatmiser, is back with another previously unreleased single from their forthcoming rarities compilation, The Music of Heatmiser (due on October 6th). Entitled “Bottle Rocket,” the song was recorded in 1992 and is a transportive artifact from the band’s early days. Stream it below.
Originally included on a demo cassette that the band was using to promote themselves during their 1992 tour, “Bottle Rocket” is not only a time-capsule of sorts, but also conveys Heatmiser’s lively energy and undeniable musical chemistry. Beginning with an appropriate amount of grungy, rock riffage, the song’s arrangement opens up to a melodic chorus with a descending chord progression and call-and-response vocals. Over top, lyrics from the band’s Neil Gust carry a feeling of yearning, albeit, a bit esoterically.
As Gust has explained recently, though, those esoteric lyrics had a very specific and personal meaning. Several years prior to writing “Bottle Rocket,” Gust had come out to his bandmates as gay, but it wasn’t until this song that he began writing from that perspective. “I’m singing lyrics that are like a private language to myself,” Gust said in a press statement. “I wish I could go back to that time and talk to my younger self and say: ‘Just be honest about who you are. Don’t be afraid.’”
Continuing, Gust explained how rewarding it’s been to open up the Heatmiser vault and revisit all the old songs, media, and memories included in the upcoming Music of Heatmiser release. “When Elliott became Elliott Smith, Heatmiser immediately got eclipsed by that — so we all left it behind,” he said. “But when Tony [Lash] started sending me these recordings, I remembered how fun this was, and how much we loved it. It’s loud and ferocious, and what we were doing back then is what I still look for in music today.”
Agreeing, the band’s Brandt Peterson added: “I’ve really enjoyed revisiting this music for the music. It’s great to remember the times that we worked together very well, and how that reflects in the music itself.”
“Bottle Rocket” also arrives with a previously-unseen video of the band performing the song live in 1993, which you can watch below. The Music of Heatmiser is due in full on October 6th via Third Man Records. Pre-orders are ongoing. Last month, another previously-unreleased single, “Lowlife,” was shared.
Meanwhile, Smith fans have had a pretty good year so far as from-the-vault releases go. In March, six albums Smith recorded while still in high school surfaced online. Then, in April, a clip of an odd, long-forgotten Portland morning show from 1995 went viral, featuring Smith performing “Clementine” for a pre-America’s Funniest Home Videos Tom Bergeron and a puppet.