Calling All Astronauts have been no strangers to attention and acclaim for their multi-flavoured and adventurously eclectic electro punk nurtured sound; albums and singles sparking eager ears and support with persistent success. They have inflamed the senses and zealous praise yet again with new EP, Influences; the London trio sharing some of their keenest inspirations in their own inimitable way. Thinking it was high time we caught back up with the band to talk about the EP, a new album and plenty more, we had the pleasure of grabbing some of vocalist David Bury’s time….
Hi and welcome back to The RingMaster Review.
It has been almost two years since we last talked with you, around the release of your album Anti-Social Network. Could you bring us up to date with all things CAA?
We released loads of singles from Anti-Social Network, all of them were really well received, as per usually we did loads of remixes and our ubiquitous low budget videos. We actually wanted to release every track as a single, but in the end didn’t want to be accused of flogging a dead horse, so there are still some absolute gems, that only people who bought the album will know
You have just released the Influences EP made up of a quartet of covers. What was the spark to its idea?
We started writing our next album early last year, however, my wife and I (David) had our first baby in August, so time was kind of against me, but we really wanted to release something new, so we thought it would be a good idea to record versions of four tracks, this then evolved into the idea that we’d make it a “Quadruple A-Sided” single, so we made videos for all four tracks, and had them staggered two weeks apart on the streaming sites and YouTube, having to send promo out on four releases two weeks apart has been crazy, and really not something I would recommend to anyone J
Would you talk a little about each track for those yet to hear the release?
First of all is a drum and bass meets metal version of Gary Numan’s (Tubeway Army) Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, we managed to get synth sounds that are quite similar to the original, but it’s now at 176PBM, with noisy guitars all over it, next is a stripped down version of T-Rex’s Metal Guru, we’ve really slowed it down, to an atmospheric post-industrial type sound, thirdly we’ve taken on the legend that is David Bowie, and put own stamp on his song Scary Monsters; far be it from me to say our version rocks more than the maestro’s original, but you can if you want J, and last but definitely not least, we’ve absolutely brought Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water screaming into the 21st Century, it’s like Skinny Puppy, Rammstein, Ministry all rolled into one, according to the reviews; I’m not sure it is, but I’m happy if that’s what people are saying.
Many bands play covers but most just seem to approach them in the same way the original artists did and maybe hope their own sound comes across. You seem to have gone far deeper into the songs and taken the CAA imagination to certain aspects; the result tracks which are as much yours as their creators. How did you approach each track and decide what way to go with them?
We approached them exactly like we do when we are writing our songs; we kind of got an idea of how we wanted to do them, started off with drum patterns and then layered everything on top of the drums, we didn’t really have any trouble with any of them, the fill before the verse on Scary Monsters was a bit of a challenge, but I came up with that kind of dubstep drop and it all came together nicely.
Obviously the theme to the EP is in its title but in its case is it the songs which were primarily the influences or the artists, and if the latter why these particular tracks from their arsenal of persuasion?
I think it was a bit of both; they are four artists that we liked as kids, and still as adults, in fact Gary Numan’s two most recent albums are awesome, I can’t recommend them strongly enough. I was a big T-Rex fan as a kid and regularly drive past the spot where Marc died; there are so many of his songs to choose from, we wanted to pick songs that we liked but were not too obscure, you know. If we’d done Fad Gadget, Cabaret Voltaire, Japan and Psychedelic Furs tunes, they would still have sounded like us, but only people of a certain age would know the originals, so we picked four tunes, we felt had been significant to us that other people would know.
For us it was a brave move to take on four not only well-known but legendary tracks which virtually everybody knows and so many reveres. It has obviously proved a great move as fan and critical praise has quickly gathered but did you have any doubts at any point in taking on such classics?
We did obviously worry that we could face a backlash, or just get dismissed as, “another rock band doing covers” but after finishing them, we felt that we had, as they say on TV talent shows, made them our own, however unlike TV talent shows, I don’t think we have ruined any of them, I hope we have given a modern flavour to them, that will hopefully make some of our listeners revisit or even visit for the first time the artists that original wrote and recorded these songs.
Has the buzz, support, and acclaim for the EP surprised you in its swiftness and richness?
It’s truly been astonishing, we have honestly never done so many interviews before on any release, I’m feeling there isn’t the stigma associated with covers that there used to be (The Dickies excepted); people seem to have embraced it in the spirit that it’s intended, and for that we are very grateful.
Was there any specific intent in unveiling the four tracks within Influences one by one over a handful of weeks rather than as a single entity?
The original idea was to just release it as an EP, but when we got them back from Max, our mastering engineer, we were like, these are just too good to promo as a group; tracks are going to get lost. We thought it would be a shame if that happened, so we came up with the idea of 5 different release dates, 1 for each single and a final one for the EP as a whole, I’m glad we did it this way, because different DJs have had different favourites, so we’ve ended up getting an amazing amount of radio play
Tell us about the videos accompanying each song.
Here we are, confession time, as you know we have very small budgets, so we commissioned two of the video’s on Fiverr, the Scary Monsters lyric one and the Smoke On The Water one; for Scary Monsters, we just sent her the lyrics, told her we’d like it to be scary, paid her $12 and that’s what she came up with. The SOTW one, cost a little more, $30 I think, we gave the director carte blanche to do what he wanted and what he came back with, though quite surreal, works perfectly. Are ‘Friends’ Electric? was a little different. We have a friend called Stevie Mac, he makes animations for video games. He had a short story of around 90 seconds that he’d done, that wasn’t owned by any of his employers. He kindly said we could use it, so I cut it together with royalty free footage that Paul found online. Metal Guru is a whole other story. A Twitter friend of ours in Texas offered to make us one for Metal Guru, he was making a stop animation video for us but as release date loomed it became obvious he wasn’t going to get it done in time, so he came up with this one. He did go back and re-edit it as there where a few scenes towards the end that were quite disturbing, but all in all to come up with four videos for less than fifty quid, is a right result J
Was there anything about recording the EP which was more difficult than creating your own music?
I wish I could say there was something, but Paul and J are such accomplished musicians, they got their parts down really quickly and everything just fit into place. The mixing is always the hardest part for us, because we always have bass, kick drum, sub bass and bass synth sitting in the same part of the audio spectrum, so a lot of use of lo-pass and hi-pass filters is always needed.
Is there a possibility of an Influences Part 2 in the future?
Without a shred of a doubt, we will revisit this; we’ve just had so much fun with it. Don’t ask me when, there’s album three to finish first
Any hints to songs or bands which might be considered, I know you guys have eclectic tastes and inspirations.
We have tried a lot of other songs; we did Adele’s Someone Like You [but] my vocal was so out of tune, I cried with laughter’ I’d like to cover some things that nobody would ever expect us to, maybe The Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? or The MVPs Turning Your Heartbeat Up. Who knows, we will just have to wait and see.
As you mentioned, the band is working on their third album. How is that actually coming along and have you a timescale to its release?
We have 16 songs so far in various stages. It’s sounding enormous, and as eclectic as you would expect from us; it goes from drop D metal circa Lamb Of God to expensive anthems almost reminiscent of early Simple Minds. The 16 songs we have so far will probably not all end up on the album; we will undoubtedly write some more, amalgamate some of them, and probably save some for singles B-Sides
I also heard there could be a release for a previously unreleased album from J’s previous band Caffeine on your label, Supersonic Media; could you tell us more?
They had a couple of albums which are now on Supersonic from when they were touring with the likes of The Offspring, AFI, New Found Glory etc. Alain their original single left and the recruited Scott who is now in the Candle Thieves, they recorded an album with Andy Hawkins from Midget producing. It’s a fantastic album that never got released; it’s quite reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World or Alkaline Trio. For fear of sounding like Trump, it really is fantastic, super, terrific, maybe it’ll do well in Mexico J
Our big thanks David for taking time out to come chat with us; anything you would like to add?
Thank you for having us.
People can check out every aspect of our new EP at http://smarturl.it/Influences-EP
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The RingMaster Review 06/04/2018
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