God Is An Astronaut – Interview

GIAA band performing @ Vicar St, Dublin, Ireland

GIAA band performing @ Vicar St, Dublin, Ireland on Dec 15, 2012. Picture: Paul Patras

Reaching only moderate levels of success in Dublin, but selling out huge venues in far flung corners of Eastern Europe, Russia and (increasingly) New York, there’s a real argument for God Is An Astronaut being Ireland’s most ‘underappreciated at home’ band. Not that it bothers songwriter, guitarist and occasional instrumental-style vocalist Torsten Kinsella – “We don’t do as well in Ireland as we do in places like Eastern Europe,” he explains, “It’s hard to say why, really, aside from that Ireland’s radio tends to be very commercial, but I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about it. It’s just the way things are.”

It’s been ten years since Torsten and co. started up, releasing the aptly titled ‘The End Of The Beginning’ as “a farewell to the music industry”, and soon found that what had been a studio-only project took off in a big way. As international tour offers came in, the band decided to carry on. “It came as a surprise to us”, Torsten recalls, “but it worked out really well. If I was to give any advice to bands now, I’d say don’t sign to a label. We had to seriously consider whether we wanted to carry on when all our gear – €25,000 worth – was stolen on our first New York trip in 2008. But we decided to follow our hearts and carry on, and it paid off. We’ve had some very successful American tours since then, particularly in New York, with the Bowery Ballroom.”

Given the global success, there must always have been a temptation to head out of Ireland and base themselves elsewhere, but God Is An Astronaut remain pretty loyal to their Wicklow base. “If we were to relocate anywhere it would probably be the US, simply because things seem to be taking off there, and when we go over there to tour we have to pay 60% tax on all our income”, Torsten suggests. “If we were based over there we’d have to pay a lot less. But we like the European lifestyle so I can’t see it happening. My favourite place to tour, though, is probably New York.”

God Is An Astronaut’s current tour – which comes to an end at Dublin’s Vicar Street this weekend – is to celebrate a decade of the band, and has been accompanied by a re-mastering of the band’s entire back-catalogue. “We’re delighted with the remastered versions”, Torsten explains, “they sound so fresh to us, even ‘The End Of The Beginning’ sounds like a new record. It’s amazing the work Tim Young, the producer, put in. He also worked on The Beatles remastered series and on Massive Attack, and his work is incredible. ”

As well as celebrating, though, God Is An Astronaut are using the ten year mark as a turning point, and heading off in a new direction, with Torsten defining the time as “a chance to reinvent ourselves”. With a new album due “probably around April or May of next year”, Torsten is writing heavily, and “in a way that’s different to what we’ve done before. It’s hard to explain, in some ways it’s more commercial than our previous stuff, but in others more obscure. I’m writing with the more off-the-wall moments included from the start, rather than layering them over the top, and there are a few vocal elements that have been added in a different way to before. It’s pretty hard to describe, but all will be revealed.” What that won’t lead to, though, is hefty changes to the live set up. “We’ve always been a band that plays career-spanning live sets. These ten year anniversary gigs obviously fall in that category, but it’s not going to change with the new material, either. It’s what people who come to see us want to see.”

God Is An Astronaut have always walked the line between rock and ambient music, and Torsten seems to be pointing towards a rockier next album, as well as edging in that direction generally. “If I had to pick, I probably see myself as slightly more of a rock musician”, he concludes, “though obviously there are large elements of both that and electronic/ ambient styles. The last album ‘Age Of The Fifth Sun’ was more ambient. My song writing this time is really reflecting my mood, so if I’m up or down when I write you’ll really hear that in the music that comes out at the far end.”

Perhaps there’s an element of that emotional delivery that led to the dropping of the band’s once infamous live visuals, but Torsten eyes more practical concerns: “We let go of the visuals because we felt too many people were doing it, it was a bit too cliché. We’re a different band now, with five members instead of three, and there isn’t the same need to add to the stage set up. It also gives us more spontaneity than we had with the visuals in place.”

Not many bands start with a last hurrah of an album and end up touring the world to hundreds of thousands of people. Far fewer can headline at the Bowery Ballroom and still find themselves so far from a household name back home. God Is An Astronaut, admittedly, operate in a niche area of music – ambient and instrumental styles have almost never found huge pop audiences in Ireland – but their touring record and global acclaim speaks for itself. So, as it happens, do their records; after all the early fears, a decade looks like only the start.

God Is An Astronaut played their final 10th anniversary celebration show at Vicar Street the 15th of December 2012. ~ James Hendicott

Related posts:
God is An Astronaut – Discography
God Is An Astronaut – The Band in Pictures
God Is An Astronaut – No Return (Video)

God Is An Astronaut: Discography

Astronaut @ Sistine Chapel

Astronaut @ Sistine Chapel

Note: On December 28, 2012, God Is An Astronaut announced (in their official website) that they will be taking a short break to complete the new album, and will have some updates on its progress, release date and news on upcoming touring for mid 2013 in the coming weeks and months.

DISCOGRAPHY

9TAgeOfTheFifthSun17May2010
1. Worlds in Collision
2. In the Distance Fading
3. Lost Kingdom
4. Golden Sky
5. Dark Rift
6. Parallel Highway
7. Shining Through
8. Age of the Fifth Sun
9. Paradise Remains

 

 

 

 

10TGIAA_17Nov2008
1. Shadows
2. Post Mortem
3. Echoes
4. Snowfall
5. First Day of Sun
6. No Return
7. Zodiac
8. Remaining Light
9. Shores of Orion
10. Loss

 

 

 

9TFarFromRefuge_18July2007
1. Radau
2. Far from Refuge
3. Sunrise in Aries
4. Grace Descending
5. New Years End
6. Darkfall
7. Tempus Horizon
8. Lateral Noise
9. Beyond the Dying Light

 

 

 

 

10T_EndOfTheBeginning
1. The End of the Beginning
2. From Dust to the Beyond
3. Ascend to Oblivion
4. Coda
5. Remembrance
6. Point Pleasant
7. Fall from the Stars
8. Twilight
9. Coma
10. Route 666
11. Lost Symphony

 

 

 

AMomentofStillness1612web
1. Frozen Twilight
2. A Moment of Stillness
3. Forever Lost (Reprise)
4. Elysian Fields
5. Crystal Canyon
6. Endless Dream
7. Empyrean Glow
8. Sweet Deliverance
9. Dark Solstice

Sean Lennon & Greg Saunier To Release Their Debut Album Tuesday

Sean Lennon and Greg Saunier of noise-rock duo Mystical Weapons

Sean Lennon and Greg Saunier of noise-rock duo Mystical Weapons

Mystical Weapons is a brash new experimental-psych project from Sean Lennon (The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. Sean Lennon and Greg Saunier first holed up in Lennon’s home studio in New York for two days early last year to record Mystical Weapons. For Lennon the sessions were unlike any he’d ever experienced. “I’ve sort of burdened myself [in the past] with this idea of trying to write songs,” he told Rolling Stone. “So it was really nice to just break through the confines of my own limitations of whatever composition. It’s incredibly liberating.”

“Instantly, we had this rapport!” Saunier recently told Interview magazine. That rapport led to the duo’s freeform, self-titled debut (out Jan. 15) on Lennon’s own Chimera Music label.

Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon

An improvised album does require good chemistry between the musicians, and, perhaps most importantly, between the band and the listener. This album has both. From the delicately wrought “Silk Screen Eyes,” and playfulness of “Mechanical Mammoth,” to the blistering guitar work and shredding drums of “Colony Collapse Disorder” Mystical Weapons bubbles over with a kind of frenetic energy. But throughout, Lennon and Saunier clearly have this mystical jam very much under control.

Mystical Weapons performed this past weekend at Big Sky Works in Brooklyn where they played their album release show Saturday, and Lennon is hoping for additional gigs. “We’re going to play as many shows as Greg and my schedule will allow,” he told RS. “We can play shows fairly easily, because we just need to set up gear and play. There’s not a lot of rehearsing.”

Sean Lennon was excited to reveal that a new Ghost of a Saber-Tooth Tiger album is in the works, which he hopes to release later this year. “We’re in the middle of finishing up our second album right now,” he told Rolling Stone. “I’m really very psyched about it. I’m just doing the final vocals, and we’re hopefully going to be mixed sometime in [early 2013].”

Watch a video from Martha Colburn for the song Colony Collapse Disorder:

Tom Waits and Anton Corbijn to Release a Collaborative Photographic Book “Waits/Corbijn ’77-’11”

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WAITS/CORBIJN ‘77-‘11, a collector’s edition linen slipcase book limited to 6,600 copies, is scheduled for a May 8th release in US and Europe by renowned German publisher Schirmer-Mosel. The coffee table art book not only features over 200 pages of Waits’ portraits taken by Corbijn over four decades, but also includes over 50 pages of the first published collection of musings and photographs taken by Waits himself. The linen bound book has introductions written by film director Jim Jarmusch, and the longtime music critic Robert Christgau.

WAITS/CORBIJN ‘77-’11 is the chronicle of an artistic collaboration that reaches back more than 35 years, to those first black-and-white photographs of Tom Waits taken by a young Anton Corbijn in Holland in 1977. Corbijn would go on to acclaim for his iconic enigmatic portraits of musicians and other artists—from U2 and Miles Davis to Robert De Niro and Clint Eastwood to Damien Hirst and Gerhard Richter—also becoming a designer, a pioneer in music video and more recently, an award-winning director of feature films. By 1977, Tom Waits was already known world-wide for a series of stunning, timeless albums, filled with songs of a noir-tinged Los Angeles that owed as much to writers like John Fante and Jack Kerouac as it did to jazz, blues and tin-pan alley that had soaked into Waits’ pores from childhood. Ahead of Waits lay his partnership with Kathleen Brennan—leading to such touchstone recordings as Rain Dogs and Mule Variations—his film work with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Jim Jarmusch, and his stage projects with legendary director Robert Wilson.

In those first photographs, then, are the seeds of these two intertwined careers, feeding off each other. Waits’ vibrant persona helped Corbijn define his narrative, cinematic style of still photography: images that felt as if you were coming in on the middle of some unfolding drama. Corbijn complimented Waits’ theatrical side in a way that synced beautifully with the experimental music he was making with Brennan. “Anton picks up a small black box, points it at you and all the leaves fall from the trees. The shadows now are long and scary, the house looks completely abandoned and I look like a handsome… undertaker. I love working with Anton, he’s someone with a real point of view. Believe me, I won’t go jumping off rocks wearing only a Dracula cape for just anyone,” Waits says.
Waits’ own photography, collected here for the first time under the title “Curiosities,” gives a visual handle to the artistic intelligence millions of fans know only through his music.

Photographs of Tom Waits by Anton Corbijn, photographs by Tom Waits of the vivid quotidian, stretching down through the years and presented for the first time in a beautiful clothbound book; side by side, these 226 images record one of the longest and most fruitful collaborations in the careers of both artists. “It’s rare”, Corbijn says, “to take photographs of someone over a 30+ year period. Our work together developed totally organically and that’s a beauty in itself. We are very serious about our work but when it comes to working together, we’re like children resisting maturity. It’s liberating and a much needed legal drug.”

Waits/Corbijn ’77-‘11
Photographs by Anton Corbijn
Curiosities by Tom Waits
Texts by Jim Jarmusch and Robert Christgau
Limited edition of 6.600 w/slipcase
272 pages, 226 color and duotone plates
ISBN 978-3-8296-0555-7

Sources: Tom Waits-Anton Corbijn, Tom Waits news, Wiki

Jake Bugg’s Free Show at The Living Room, NYC

Jake-Bugg-invite

Fans of Donovan, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Oasis, Don McLean, Johnny Cash, and The Beatles will quickly come to adore the 18 years young singer-songwriter from Nottingham. Join us for a very intimate solo/acoustic set with Jake at The Living Room (154 Ludlow Street – *one of the last few shows at this location!) Tuesday, January 15th. The doors are at 3:30 with the concert at 4pm.

This is a free show and space is limited. It will be sure to be a fun-filled afternoon of blues, rock & folk.

Jake Bugg – Two Fingers
JakeBuggVEVO

Published on Sep 23, 2012

Debut album, out now on iTunes: http://po.st/4j3IYG

Music video by Jake Bugg performing Two Fingers. (C) 2012 Mercury Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

Pick up Jake Bugg’s debut album on Amazon or iTunes
jakebugg.com | @jakebugg

Shane MacGowan, Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski Tackle ‘Leaving of Liverpool’ – Premiere

The Pogues singer and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ pair cover a seafaring favorite
Son Of Rogues Gallery – “Leaving Of Liverpool”

Published on Dec 6, 2012
By Antirecords
“Leaving Of Liverpool” from ‘Son Of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys’

Since it was first heard on an American ship in 1885, “Leaving of Liverpool” has been adopted several times by sailors and non-sailors alike (including Bob Dylan, Anita Carter, the Pogues and the Dubliners). Now, 127 years later, it is the first single off Hal Willner’s Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys, a sequel to his 2006 compilation Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys.

Wilner was inspired to create these maritime anthologies while on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with actor Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, both of whom are now executive producers of the album. “It is a very different record than Volume 1,” Willner tells Rolling Stone of the sequel. “It seems happier – not as much about torture, sodomy and death.”

Although “Leaving of Liverpool” is a lyrically melancholy song (“So fare thee well, my one true love/ For when I return, united we will be/ It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me/ But my darling when I think of thee”), this bright and uptempo rendition is certainly a happier take on it. It is sung by ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan in a gruff sailors’ accent so authentic that it’s nearly incomprehensible. Verbinski and Depp are also featured on the track.

Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys features Tom Waits, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Sean Lennon and Frank Zappa, among others. It will be released on February 19th.

By Rolling Stone