Calling All Astronauts are a London-based alternative rock three-piece whose music blends politically-charged lyrics with genres that include punk, rock and electronic music. The band discusses what it’s like being professional musicians with our editor Pana Markides and gives their advice to acts beginning their journey. Their latest single, ‘Give Them A Leader’ is streaming now.
By The Hard Baroquer
Hailing from West London, Calling All Astronauts (CAA) have decades of history behind them.
The band has been together since 2011, releasing two albums (2016’s ‘Anti-Social Network‘ and 2013’s ‘Post-Modern Conspiracy‘), two EPs and 16 singles in that time. But before there was CAA, each of the trio’s careers go back to the eighties. All three were all in rap metal act US:UK together, opening for the likes of Faith No More, after this the members lent their respective talents to other musical projects: bassist Paul McCrudden joined goth group The Marionettes; and guitarist J Browning joined pop-punk band Caffeine (Caffeine were in turn managed by David B, vocalist and programming for CAA), before they joined forces 10 years ago to form CAA.
As Calling All Astronauts, they’ve toured with names such as Echo And The Bunnymen, PWEI, Sigue Sigue Sputnik among others.
CAA is a band that, to their credit, lives by the political ideals present in their lyrics – previous interviews they’ve given show the band’s frustration at the music industry. So, it comes as no surprise that the group operates through their own independent record label, Supersonic Media, and through this they work tirelessly to promote their music.
And by way of promoting their music, as part of the run-up to the band’s third LP, ‘#Resist’, Calling All Astronauts’ vocalist and programmer David B graciously agreed to answer a few questions with The Hard Baroquer and share some advice for those trying to make music professionally.
Can you describe your music and share what your biggest musical inspirations are? How have you used these inspirations to develop as musicians?
It’s hard to put us into a genre, if anything you could probably call us ‘Electropunk’; we take influences from the last 60 years of alternative music and put a modern take on it.
Describe any home practice regime each member of Calling All Astronauts has?
We don’t ‘home practice’ other than when we are learning the set, then it’s have a copy of the backing track each and practice all your parts until you know them backwards.
With respect to the electronic element, what challenges does this present when playing your music, and what benefits does this offer over a traditional band set up? What advice can each member give to anyone looking to develop their music technically?
It means we have to be as tight as a duck’s arse, when you have so much programmed it’s totally unforgiving, unlike a traditional line up, where if the singer misses his cue, the band can play another four bars and then he can come in. We all have to hit every cue, that’s the hard part, the good part is, there are only three of us, it makes for less to go wrong, when all the drums and keys are programmed, it also makes travelling to shows easier.
Can you share the band’s song-writing process? Are there any anecdotes behind any of your music?
We start with me programming a beat that I think is cool, J or Paul them lay down bass or guitar and we build from there.
I will usually write one verse and a chorus and then cut and paste it, to give some sort of song structure, then we just keep building and tweaking parts until it’s done.
How do you balance family life with making music for a living? What advice can you give to musicians that want to make music for a living?
You just have to get on with it. Time management and little sleep becomes the norm; if you want to succeed you need to be committed. Don’t expect anything to come to you – it doesn’t work like that. I heard a famous poker player say, “the more I play, the luckier I get”.
That says it all, if you don’t put in the time, you will never get anywhere.
What is the band currently promoting?
We have a current single, Give Them A Leader, out now. There is a follow up single, Welcome To The Black Bloc out in late May. Our third album ‘#Resist’ is out in June, we have been working with multi-Grammy winning producer Alan Branch (NIN, Jeff Beck, Depeche Mode, U2) and it sounds fantastic.
Watch the music video to Give Them A Leader below:
Calling All Astronauts are:
David B – vocals and programming
J Browning – guitars
Paul McCrudden – bass