Blast off!

LISA WILTON

, Last Updated: 8:59 PM ET

Aaron Smelski's first introduction to the Calgary independent music scene was playing bass for Sky Suspended, a British-sounding, guitar feedback-driven pop band.

 He wore his fondness for such melodic, noise-happy bands as Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain on his sleeve. But that was five years ago.

 Today, he is still heavily influenced by the music scene on the other side of the Atlantic, but that influence is not as easily recognizable in his latest group, Hot Little Rocket.

 "I think I bring some pop sensibility to the band," says Smelski, who now plays guitar.

 "We all come from different musical backgrounds," adds guitarist and singer Andrew Wedderburn. "But I think these different styles blend in really well with each other."

 The band celebrates the release of its debut EP, Laika, at the Night Gallery tonight with guests Summerlad (ex-Primrods) and Edmonton's The Buicks.

 Smelski -- who also played in the female-fronted jazzy pop band Lotus Galaxy -- says Hot Little Rocket's lo-fi indie rock and loud-quiet dynamics are different than anything he and the other members of the band -- including drummer Joel Nye and bassist Mark Macarthur -- have played before.

 "It's new territory for all of us," he says.

 "It's a fresh approach to music for all of us. But it's a good challenge. What's really kind of neat is that Andrew is really into jazz and I've taken some jazz guitar, so I think some of our chord changes are a little more complex.

 "We try to do interesting things and see how many mixed-up finger contortions we can think of."

 Formed two years ago, Hot Little Rocket's music has changed dramatically since the departure of its original singer, who left to pursue acting.

 "I don't think we were sure where we were going with her," Smelski explains. "I think a lot of times we were editing the songs to match her vocal style. She couldn't sing over really loud guitars. I think Andrew's yelling is a little more adaptable to the louder parts."

 Smelski says although he's committed to making the band work, he has realistic goals.

 "It's not a hobby, but I'm not going to sell my house for it. Bands who really, really want to make it ... are the ones that tend to burn out the quickest because they invest so much energy into it. They just get sick of each other."


Photos