Sparks and passions: Calling All Astronauts 2018

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

Explore Calling All Astronauts further at:

http://www.callingallastronauts.com/    https://www.facebook.com/callingallastronauts   https://twitter.com/CAA_Official

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 06/04/2018

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Rousing waltzes and alluring confrontations: talking Calling All Astronauts with David Bury

Calling All Astronauts_RingMaster Review

British electro rockers Calling All Astronauts continued an inescapable trend of releasing some of the UK’s finest provocative and rousing encounters with their new album Anti-Social Network a short few weeks back. An uncaging of snarling and virulent rock ‘n’ roll with a political and emotional bite, the album showed the addictive prowess of CAA in getting bodies bouncing and thoughts exploring. Meaning for a long time to talk with the band, the outstanding album was the spark which made the time to act now. So with big thanks to band vocalist/writer/producer David Bury, we turned the spotlight on CAA and Anti-Social Network with plenty more insights in tow.

Hi David and thanks for sharing time with us.

Before we get into your new album, Anti-Social Network, can you tell us about the beginnings of Calling All Astronauts for those still new to the band? How did you all meet and what became the spark to the creation of the band?

J and I used to be in a band called US:UK together, J then went on to be in the pop-punk Caffeine. Caffeine had drawn to a standstill after numerous tours of the UK and US, we bumped into each other and just thought we’d like to have a jam for old time’s sake. One thing led to another and Calling All Astronauts was born. We originally had Andy the Caffeine drummer, but he went travelling, while he was away I decided to learn about programming drums and keys, and that’s how the sound we now have developed.

As you said all of you in the band now have experiences before and outside of Calling All Astronauts; how much has the band been shaped by those musical adventures either in where you want to go with it or in what not to get involved in again?

You learn a lot about the industry over the years; the good memories, the parties, the massive gigs are the ones you cherish, but the knowledge you gain about how the music business runs really shapes your attitude towards it.

We first caught on to the band through the single Winter Of Discontent in 2012, which was your second? This was already a lively and potent time for the band live, the playing with the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, PWEI, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and A Place To Bury Strangers amongst your shows, and in making music as well as reactions to those early releases. What was the feeling in CAA back then and how has that differed over time, if at all?

The feeling than was actually pretty much the same as it is now, we always feel both flattered and humbled that anyone likes our music, we are just three guys recording in my lounge, yeah in modern terms that’s a studio, but it’s a lounge nonetheless; we’ve got Sky Sports on in the background, my cats walking through, and we are under the Heathrow flight path, so I regularly have to redo a vocal when a plane has been particularly low. 🙂  We do what we do; it’s a kind of love us or hate us, it’s your choice, we won’t take it personally if we are not to your tastes, but we’ll embrace you as a friend if you get what we do.

Calling All Astronauts Promo PictureSince then singles, EPs, and an impressive debut album has come and gone; all leading to the recent release of second album Anti-Social Network. Following the band over those encounters, your music has clearly evolved and grown over time. From the inside how do you see and hear that change?

I think that is a direct reflection on my production skills. I’ve learnt so much in the last four years about how to actually make a record. We are a Rock And Roll band that works in the manner of a dance act; we pay a lot of attention to how our records sound sonically. We took a long time recording Anti-Social Network because we wanted to make an album that we’ll still be proud of as a piece of art in 25 years’ time.

Apart from personnel, how too as CAA changed mentally in regard to making music and how you deal with the music scene.

I don’t think we have actually changed much, we are all kind of set into the people we are. We do however have an increasing dislike of the mainstream music industry, and how it brainwashes kids into thinking things that are mediocre at best are amazing. If you swallow diamonds your turds with contain diamonds, but they will still be turds.

The band is seems defiantly DIY; your releases for example being uncaged on your own Supersonic Media. Has that always been the intention or just how things have worked out?

It seems that way, as yet, we’ve never sent any demos or any of our releases to any record labels. Actually I lie. I did give a copy of the first album to Brett the radio guru at Epitaph. I met him in LA and just wanted him to know how we sound rather than looking for a deal, so gave him a copy of the album, but that’s about it. We like having artistic control; yes we would be a lot bigger than we are if we were with a big indie or major, but at what artistic cost. I’m doubtful any of them would allow us to make an album as eclectic as Anti-Social Network; they want their artists to make an album of the same track 11 times, all the different variations around the same three chords.

Let us get right into Anti-Social Network now. Did you approach its writing and creation as you have previous releases or try something different in its making?

Yes pretty much, except we had Paul on board for this one. We tend to start with a drum track and built up from there, it’s quite like building a house, and as we all know, without solid foundations you may as well build your house out of straw.

You seem to have woven essences of many of your inspirations over the decades in its sound which was an extra tasty spice for us as I know we share similar favourite artists and songs from the seventies and eighties especially. Was this something you set out to do or just an organic arising from the writing?

Not really, we had a bunch of ideas, and as they grew organically into the songs they now are, we often referenced them using the names of the bands that they had a feel of. All the album sounds like us; I don’t think any of it could be called a pastiche. I think it’s maybe more a case of, band X made some amazing records, let’s see if we can make something that can stand up in its own right against what they did. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for us to make 11 tracks all sounding like Time To Fight Back or conversely Always Be True, but that’s really not what we are about. CAA to us is about making music we like, it’s not some master plan to sell millions of records; we’d rather be Clock DVA than Coldplay every day of the week.

Like many we generally call CAA an electro punk/rock band. As the new album shows, your sound is much richer and varied than that suggests. How would you describe it for newcomers?

It’s kind of like a ride on the world biggest Rock And Roll Rollercoaster. You never know whether it’s going to turn, or drop or go upside down until it’s upon you. Wow that sounds pretentious; ok, just imagine all your favourite left field rock bands since 1976, i.e. Killing Joke, Ministry, PIL, Bauhaus, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, and then getting them produced by Skrillex and Prodigy

Lyrically Anti-Social Network is as biting as ever, something easy to expect from your music, but equally there seems a thicker intimacy to some songs too. Can you give some background to art_RingMasterReviewthe themes of songs and to the album in general?

I have been hoping somebody would ask this, this will be quite extensive but I’ve been longing to go through the album track by track, please feel free to edit this if you want.

  1. Living The Dream

I grew up in a northern town, not a city, and in towns you see people on the local music scene who are the “big cheese”, they walk around like Billy Big Bollocks, they get a little bit of interest from local radio and think all they have to do is move to the big city and world will be the oyster. When the reality is something far different, when you make that leap to pursue your dreams, you have to be prepared for the reality that you are suddenly a shrimp in an ocean of sharks.

  1. Empire

We are very active on social media, especially Twitter, where we have a lot of young followers, and I see their tweets about how in love they are and the next second they are broken hearted. It’s kind of sending the message that broken hearts are only temporary when you’re a teen and that you are going to fall in love many times during your life and that if one relationship doesn’t work out, move on to the next one.

  1. Time To Fight Back

The world and society is pretty much on the brink of imploding; if the majority of us don’t stand up and say, “enough is enough” 1% of the world’s population has 99% of the wealth. There are children dying because they don’t have clean water, how can that be right in 2016?

  1. Hands Up Who Wants To Die?

Is about youth crime and gang violence and how leaving the house with a weapon can lead to a whole heap of consequences due to one thoughtless move

  1. Life As We Know It

This is about envy and how people wish they were somebody else, it’s clichéd but life is what you make of it. If you’re happy in your life, embrace the fact you are happy and celebrate it, if you are not happy, do something about it. Sitting on your ass complaining is never going to improve things, unless you grasp the metal and go for it.

  1. The American Dream

It is not particularly about the US, but as the American Dream has always been held up as a goal for what people can achieve through hard work, I thought it was a good example for society as a whole, and how things have changed from the days that people left school with ambitions of professions or trades. They now want to be YouTubers or famous on Vine, they want fame from zero talent in a narcissistic shallow world.

  1. God Is Dead

God is a metaphor for consumerism; you don’t get consumerism without the word consume and society has become all consumed with the latest product X until they have it, and once they have it, their thirst for the net product X is instantly greater than their joy at getting the latest thing they’ve craved for.

  1. Always Be True

As I mentioned earlier we have a lot of young fans, this is a message to them not to bow to peer pressure. If you don’t like something or don’t want to do something never be afraid to say no, because one day, your day will come.

  1. Look In Your Eye

This is about the cynical people at major labels who only see artists as product and really have no feelings about the long term futures of said artists as long as they have them signed to 360 deals, make a profit and keep themselves in a job

  1. Black World

Is really saying, I don’t have all the answers, but if you listen to what I’m saying in my lyrics and think about them and join us in thinking that the world doesn’t have to be like this, together we can make the world a better place

  1. Divisive

Is about how the media and governments manipulate the news to suit their own agendas. They tell us they are doing it for righteous reasons when it’s all about greed and power and that once you turn to violence it becomes both self-perpetuating and self-defeating; hence the chant of Greed Equals Power Equals War Equals Death repeating almost to infinitum at the end because wars go on and on and only increase the misery.

Do the same things predominantly rile up the lyrical muse or are you adding to the recipe of sparks as years and records pass?

The constant in my psyche is that I don’t like inequalities in society.  I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be rewarded for doing good work or being enterprising but I don’t think people should be forced to live in poverty. I just think people need to keep their eyes open and feel compassion for others, see both sides of every story; never judge people on their race colour creed, religion or lack of it, or their sexual orientation. Judge people on whether they are good people or not. While these things still exist in society, I will maintain my motivation as a lyricist.

Can you give us some insight into the recording of Anti-Social Network; any unexpected dramas and surprises?

There were no real disasters along the way, however it did take way longer than we hoped or expected it would. In all it took 2000 hours to record;, I think that’s maybe on a par with some of the 70’s prog rock bands, but you have to be truly happy with your records as you have to live with them forever once you release them.

CAA_RingMasterReviewFor most artists it is fair to say that playing live is their favourite part of making music. When it comes to writing and recording something though, what is your favourite part or element?

It’s actually when people tell you that they have listened to your record and really got what you’re doing. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to know you are not the only people that think the way you do.

Is there any particular moment in Anti-Social Network which gives you an extra glow of satisfaction?

There are three parts I love; on the intro of Divisive where the combination of guitar drums and keys gives the impression of a weird pitch shift on the drop, it gets me every time. I also love the almost UK Garage drop on the middle 8 of Always Be True, and J’s guitars on Life As We Know that sound like Cellos. But we are very proud of all of it, I honestly believe there are no fillers on the album and that if we released all eleven tracks as singles, we could get radio play on all of them, I could however be delusional.

Tell us about the art work for the album which seems to sum up the air of the great release more and more every time you look at it.

It was amazing, we were trying to come up with ideas, and Paul had googled the word Anti-Social Network and up this came. It’s an actual sculpture by South African artist Maurice Mbiyaki. We contacted him and asked if we could use it on the cover, and he replied “he’d be honoured”; the rest is history. J

What is next in store for CAA fans and the band itself?

We are working on a new live set and will be out and about before too long. Time To Fight Back is set to be released as a single in June with David CAA VIP Remix and a specially recorded cover version.

Big thanks again David for chatting with us; anything you would like to add?

Not really other than a big thanks to you for being so supportive of our releases, we really do appreciate the kind words you have written about us.

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own life and creativity.

Blimey, this is a massive question for me; I think I can nail it down to genres rather than actual acts, I’m very influenced by, Punk, Northern Soul, Goth, Metal, 80’s Hiphop, Synthpop, Industrial, EDM, 90s Indie, Post-Punk, Hardcore, Big Beat, Reggae, Ska, and DnB.

Check out our review of Anti-Social Network @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/calling-all-astronauts-anti-social-network/

http://www.callingallastronauts.com    https://www.facebook.com/CallingAllAstronauts/     https://twitter.com/CAA_Official

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 16/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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