“A London based socio-political anarcho electro goth punk 3-piece”. Calling All Astronauts had already tried to explain themselves in their bio, but their history till now shows that they are more than this. They are an active voice in the underground music scene with an impact also in the music industry, especially after their No1 in the 2012’s Xmas twitter music chart. Too old to overcome the industry’s glam, too young to shut up. These three artists, (David, JJ and Paul) have their own background in the music scene but our interview is with David B, the actual heart of the trio and the usual suspect behind their tweets.
Music is an expression of creativity but it is also a statement. What is music for you and why do you make it?
It’s the one facet of the arts that I think I’m actually ok at, I’ve taught myself to produce and program and think I do it fairly well, making music isn’t about becoming rich, it’s about being creative and relaying your feelings to the masses.
Could you have chosen some other form of art, becoming writers, painters, photographers or cinematographers? There is evidence, and I am referring to your video-clips, that you would be brilliant at other forms of creativity.
I’m not bad at photography, although I don’t like taking photographs of people who know I’m taking their photo, I really think I could have a good go at being an actor as well. All our crash edited videos are just something I’ve done, I don’t have great editing skill, but seem to have a lot of ideas.
‘Anti-Social Network’, your last LP, has been out since March. Since then many things have happened, especially in the UK. Do you feel that the album was a prophecy? What makes it still relevant and opportune?
It was more a statement of how I see things, I seem to have a knack of being able to look at the whole picture and predict possible outcomes, before the smoking ban, I predicted it would force pubs to close, and also lead to a recession, I think the facts speak for themselves. Our song ‘Red Flag’ from ‘Post Modern Conspiracy’ dealt with voting and democracy, I think it is totally relevant to The Indie Ref, Brexit, the last General Election, even the Labour party leadership vote.
Just a few months after the LP, there was also a single with the new song ‘Show Me Love’. Tell us what the song is about and why it was not included in the LP?
It was actually before ‘Anti-Social Network’, we were working on the album at the time, and hadn’t had a release for a while, my girlfriend works at Champion Records who released the original of ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S., it’s a classic and we just fancied doing our take on it.
I have to admit that I am a big fan, especially of how you interact on your social accounts. Do you think that making music that appeals to different parts of the planet is because of your ability to interact with voices all over? Do the social media make us more aware?
Unlike many bands on Twitter who seem to think social media is just about selling we like to interact with people, if somebody has taken their time to message us, it’s only common decency to reply, I am quite gregarious and love meeting new people from everywhere and enjoy hearing their take on things. We have even tweeted that we hope Trump supporters don’t buy our releases as they support everything that we find offensive.
And what about negativity? People around us have either given up or fight for wrong causes. I can see how this atmosphere influences your music but could you please tell us more about the situations that made you write songs like ‘Time To Fight Back’ and ‘Red Flag’?
People seem to support causes with the strongest social media presence with little or no knowledge of what they are supporting as long as they are on the bandwagon. I think if you are going to support a cause, you need to take a balanced overview, and the cause needs to have a clear exit strategy. Historically people used to go out and demonstrate, i.e. the miners’ strike, the Paris students in 1968, The Jarrow Marchers, nowadays people either take to social media and launch witchhunts, or go off half cocked in the real world, like I really can’t see how blocking City Airport in London is going to stop cops in America killing black people, it can only damage support for a very important issue, maybe I’m missing something, but I didn’t hear anyone say, hell they’ve blocked a runway, we’d better write a strong letter to the American Embassy.
I believe that most of the ideas, lyrics and notes come from you, David, as the “leader” of the band. But what are JJ and Paul bringing to the table? Why couldn’t you do it without them?
I can’t play guitar or bass for a start 🙂 Yes i come up with the backbone and lyrics, but that’s only a starting point, the input from the other two is equally important.
Touring is also a big part of communicating your music. How do you choose where to perform? Is there any criteria?
We haven’t actually played that many shows, so far we have just played the higher profile shows that have been offered to us, in fact I think we have 3 times as many tunes on iTunes than we have done gigs, this is something we are addressing, there will be a lot more Calling All Astronauts shows in the future.
What are your performing plans for the following year?
There is quite a lot of talk about high profile tour support slots, we will also be going out doing our own headline shows.
Four years have passed since you started the band. I guess the days have been full but how do you feel about your original expectations compared to your accomplishments? What have you succeeded and what is yet to come?
We only ever set our targets low, that way they can be achievable, first we wanted to release a single, we did that, then we wanted to release an album, we did that, then we wanted to play festivals, we did that, then we wanted to release another album, we did that. We are now planning and commissioning remixes of every track from ‘Anti-Social Network’, I shouldn’t say any more, but I think the plan is ambitious :).
What will your next songs be about? Please treat us to a spoiler.
I always have either rolling TV news or Radio 4 on, I generally take my inspiration from what is currently annoying me, so we’ll both have to wait and see.
Photo credits: Heidi Firminger