Having just released their new single “Give Them A leader”, Calling All Astronauts are now “calling in” to tell us all about themselves…
We currently all live in London, England, Paul is from London, but J and I are both northerners. J is originally from Sheffield and I’m from Preston.
How did you meet?
I was in a Rap-Metal band called US:UK with J’s brother years ago here in London, we needed a guitarist and he was moving down here and could play guitar, so got the job. We had a number of bassists, and Paul answered an ad in the music press and joined us, so we’ve all known each other for many years.
How long have you been playing as a band?
After US:UK had run its course, J went off and formed pop-punkers Caffeine and Paul joined Goth stalwarts The Marionettes, I bumped into J one day in 2013 and we decided to start making music together. When we were making the second album, we found ourselves without bassist and Paul was the obvious guy to call.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
It was a headline in a newspaper, NASA were recruiting astronauts and the headline read “Calling All Astronauts”
What are your influences?
We have a real wide range of influences, all kind of leftfield in today’s world, people like Ministry, Lamb Of God, New Order, Sisters Of Mercy, Pendulum, Nine Inch Nails, Psychedelic Furs, Fad Gadget, Gary Numan, Bauhaus, Pantera, Mindless Self Indulgence. I don’t think we sound like any of them particularly but there is definitely influences from all of them in our music.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We mashup a retro industrial, punk, alt rock and goth feel and mix it with modern electronic dance music, I think we basically have reinvented all our favourite music for today’s ear.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
All our songs are socio-political, we actively fight against racism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, misogynism, misandrism and any other offensive attitude, this is strongly evident in all our songs. I can’t understand how people can hate people they have never met.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Loud, very loud, because we use a lot of programming, we have to be very tight live otherwise it would just be a mess. I’m hoping the next time we take our music to the masses, we will have synchronised back projections that connect with the songs, it’s tricky when there are only three on you on stage but Paul and J go quite mental. I on the other hand tend to stand there starring out people in the audience.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
I’m not sure I will ever see anything more crazy that Angelo from Fishbone stage diving from the balcony at the Astoria. In US:UK we used to have a lot of fun live, we were playing the Hippodrome and I stage dived before the first song and the band had to play the first verse three times before I could get out of the pit. We used to invite the audience up on stage a lot for the encore, I think we once had over 200 on stage at the Marquee. Another time at Koko, five songs in a snare drum flew past my head, the stand-up drummer had decided to trash his kit and end the show. I saw Jesus and Mary Chain trash tall their gear during the first song at Bay 63 opening for Sonic Youth, that was quite something. I’ve done and been to so many live shows, I really have a million stories.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
We use ableton Live 10, an Epiphone Zakk Wylde Guitar, Paul uses some old 5-string bass, I don’t even know what make it is. We DI all the guitars and reamp them using Bias FX Pro. All our songs are written in the studio and we have a strange way of working, we start everything with me programming a drum pattern and then build it up from there.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
We have a new single “Give Them A leader” out right now, it’s being really well received so far, I feel very humbled that it’s been getting compared to people like Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails. It’s taken from our third album #Resist which is out on June 5th. It’s on all the streaming and download sites, as well as YouTube if people want to check it out.
What are your plans for 2020?
It’s hard to make any plans for this year given we are locked down due to Covid-19, we are just taking it one day at a time, I will probably start doing some programming.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you?
Hahaha, this is fantasy bill time ! I’d have Sisters of Mercy opening and Ministry headlining.
A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
I’m really loving the Spanish Love Songs album, I would say we have no connection to them. However, one of my best friends is Papa Roach’s agent, I was telling him one lunchtime how much I love the Spanish Love Songs album, he told me that one of Papa Roach’s crew is the brother of one of Spanish Love Songs and he’s been asking him to come and see them, it’s all a bit Kevin Bacon.