10 Questions With…Calling All Astronauts!
As an early 1980s punk-rocker, I fell in love with both original & hardcore punk…as well as a lot of the new wave dance stuff happening during that epoch in my life. Calling All Astronauts offers the best of these worlds. They are hard and they are dance. David B, the lead singer of CAA, actually tweeted about this while I was contemplating the same thing: “I was thinking, during rehearsal last night, about our genre. I think we’re just a punk rock band with a drum machine and synths.” Well said, David. That’s what they are. They are punk meets dance…in the best of ways.
There’s a description on the CAA website that I absolutely love. “Calling All Astronauts are a London (England) based Socio-Political Anarcho Electro Goth Punk 3-piece”. There is something immediately endearing about a band that breaks genre barriers. Especially when the genres in question are all among my favourites.
I’m currently re-working a novel based on my own 1980s punk experiences. I find Calling All Astronauts’ Post Modern Conspiracy to be an excellent soundtrack for this task. It’s something new and exciting, with an old-school sound. Great to work with.
In today’s technological world, we can easily reach out to the bands we admire…have a chat with them about their music. It’s a brilliant era to be a fan of music. After listening to Calling All Astronauts, I downloaded their album and decided to tweet to their lead singer. I wanted them to be my next ’10 Questions With…’ guests. David immediately obliged. His answers, like his band’s music, have left me wanting more. He’s a straight-up guy with a social conscience. And he has a means to get the message out there. One gets the sense he’d be a great guy to sit down and have a chat with. I’m thrilled to have him visit us today for our ’10 Questions With…’ series.
1. The most pressing question I have is WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCES? After listening to your album, POST MODERN CONSPIRACY, I came up with too many possible influences to mention. We tweeted briefly about this, but I wanted to save the question for the ATWN readers. I hear the Hawaiian Pups, Indochine, Bauhaus, Kraftwerk, New Order, PIL…it’s like the album was made for me. Can you please tell our readers who influenced your music?
We are influenced by four decades of alternative music; Killing Joke, PIL, Psychedelic Furs, New Order. But we’re also heavily influenced by modern dance artists like Pendulum and Skrillex.
2. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you take your band name from the SIMPLE PLAN song, Astronaut. There’s a passage in that song that is quite beautiful. Is this where the CAA name comes from? If so, tell us about it. And, if not, tell us about it.
So tonight I’m calling all astronauts
All the lonely people that the world forgot
If you hear my voice come pick me up
Are you out there?
‘Cause you’re all I’ve got!
It’s actually a coincidence. I hadn’t heard of the Simple Plan song until I joined Twitter and one day searched for “Calling All Astronauts”. We actually had a long list of names, and at the time NASA were advertising for Astronauts, and that’s where it came from.
3. For those who are new to CAA, it would be great to learn of your origins. Would you like to share a little about the genesis of the band?
J (Browning) and I are old friends. I’d managed his previous band, Caffeine, who had toured with the likes of The Offspring, New Found Glory, etc. They had kind of come to their conclusion and we bumped into each other, got talking, and decided to have a jam. We drafted in former Caffeine drummer Andy, and Kristi on bass. We recorded a demo, then Andy went travelling, so we were sans drummer. One day I thought we can’t wait for him to return and decided to learn to program drums, and that is the pivotal moment that formed our sound.
4. ATWN is a collective of writers who love music. In the spirit of the idea behind the concept of the blog, I’d like to ask you a bit about your lyric writing process. Is this something the band does together? If so, could you tell us a bit about the process behind co-writing. And, if not, could you give us some insights into how your lyrics come together?
I listen to news channels all day, and draw lots of inspiration from all the social injustice in the world. I write all the lyrics. I tend to write a drum track and a few keyboard parts, then the first verse and a rough chorus. J then comes over and jams guitars—we have our own studio—so we can actually take as much time as we want. We tend to work towards having the finished song structure, and then I sort of do a remix which ends up as the final version. It’s important to build the foundations before putting the roof on.
5. I noticed that you have your album, POST MODERN CONSPIRACY, available as NAME YOUR PRICE. So fans can either download it for free, or for whatever price they deem fair. Are you still in the getting-your-name-out-there stage of the band’s trajectory? How is this concept working for the band? Can you share a bit about the Name Your Price experience with us?
As we are DIY—we actually do everything ourselves, including all the PR Plugging, even making our own videos—we need to try to compete with major label artists. Money is tight for many people right now, and for people to invest in a new artist. We are happy to let them pay what they think it’s worth. We’d rather somebody was listening to our album that they got for free, than not listening to it at all.
6. This is a three-part question. Who is David B? Who is J. Browning? And Who is Kristi Bury?
David B, music obsessive & socialist
J Browning, Hardcore gamer and axe genius
Kristi Bury, Mother
7. For those who are going to go forth and listen…please tell us more about the wicked guitar licks. What is the inspiration behind it? It seems like such a great addition to the genres you criss-cross in your songs. There has to be some story behind it. Is J. Browning a fan of 70s rock guitar? Please share?
J is a massive Kiss fan and heavily influenced by the time when guitarists were the biggest posers on the planet.
8. Where do you see CALLING ALL ASTRONAUTS going in the future? From where I sit, your future looks a bit bright. Once your sound is picked up on by the populous, do you see yourselves touring? Going mainstream (maybe mainstream is a dirty word for you?)? Quitting your day-jobs if you have them? What are your goals?
If we are honest we don’t have goals. We take everything as it comes. We want to tour. We want to get tunes onto movie soundtracks. But more than anything, we just want to make good music.
9. What bands are you listening to right now?
I really like the Dillinger Escape Plan album, also the Rudimental album has amazing production. The new Editors album is a fine piece of work as well.
10. Also in the spirit of ATWN, can you share with us your most recent reads? Are you and the bandmates readers? If so, what are you favourite books?
I’m the only one that reads, and ham working my way through James Lee Burke’s “Dave Robicheaux” novels.
Thanks so much for taking the time to join us here on ALL THE WRITE NOTES, David. We’re always excited to share the bands we love with our readers. I wish you many years of CAA success!
For the ATWN readers, when you listen to the Post Modern Conspiracy album online (all songs are available for instant online listening), please consider paying for the privilege of downloading it. David is pretty adamant that those who wish to download it can do so without paying if need be. As a writer, I believe money should flow toward the artist. Though the album is available for free, you can also name your price and pay easily through Paypal.
Visit CALLING ALL ASTRONAUTS–and their album Post Modern Conspiracy HERE!
You can follow Calling All Astronauts on Twitter (David mans the account) : @CAA_Official
I will leave you with my favourite pick from POST MODERN CONSPIRACY—Someone Like You: