Calling All Astronauts are my favourite alternative sound right now, and with their second album about to be released on 11 March 2016, I had a chat with the vocalist, David.
How important is DIY music and why do people do it if it’s not going to make them into overnight multimillionaires?
Musicians need to decide why they are making music. If they consider it be art, the DIY route is the best way to go as they take full artistic control. Every good thing that happens to them is a bonus and releasing successfully though the DIY method will draw attention from labels as whilst it may not be from a major, there are many indies that can take your career to the next level. Thanks to the internet unless you want to be Coldplay or U2, radio stations and magazines are a lot more accessible, however, if you are getting radio play worldwide, it is a good idea to have a publishing deal so you see your royalties from other territories than your own. The days of holding onto your publishing in the hope of a big fat cheque are long gone; many DIY artists manage to get their music placed in films and adverts thanks to their publishers.
You’ve previously made an album about knife crime called Hands up Who Wants to Die? How effective is music in preventing or encouraging people to/from committing crimes, do you think it has any effect?
I think music can go a long way to changing attitudes. I try through my lyrics to hopefully make people think, they may not immediately go “hell yeah I’m gonna do something about this.” But over a period of time, the lyrics will sink in and they will use them in daily conversion, or raise subjects they have arisen in songs and form attitudes based. The lyrics that stick in my head that formed my viewpoint on life are these lines from Crass’ “Bloody Revolution” always ring home to me: “Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created. It’s just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren’t clearly stated. Nothing’s really different cos all government’s the same. They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game.”
Once you realise that the system is the root cause of the problem, you can either accept it and campaign for the people less likely to screw you over, of just sit on your ass moaning about being screwed over.
There was a big thing the other week about Squeeze on BBC TV. After this I saw a few people’s comments on Facebook saying things like “Why is it up to the old granddad bands to make this statement, why aren’t the young people shouting?”
I think post-Thatcher Britain has adopted a hedonistic approach to life, only those who grew up when we still had a socialist Labour party seem to care about others and society. Only the Grime and UK Hip-hop scenes seem to have young people actually making any noise about the state of the nation, but because they use a lot of expletives they don’t get mass exposure.
Is David Cameron is worried about musicians writing songs about his government? Will it change anything?
I don’t think Cameron will ever lose any sleep over people writing songs about him, we know he’s a Smiths fan; he therefore probably likes a lot of bands that may be opposed to his party’s policies. He isn’t the one to blame; the seeds of destruction were sown by Thatcher and Tory B Liar. He wouldn’t be my first choice for PM, but neither would Corbyn for that matter as I feel Corbyn is too trapped within Bennite rhetoric. Yes, he has a far better grip on what’s right and wrong, but actually seems out of kilter with modern society, unlike Dennis Skinner who I miss on the front bench especially at PMQs. Dennis Skinner is as clued up as any politician in the house. There are far too many problems in our society for one party to tow the party line and solve them all.
The biggest elephant in the room is immigration and nobody knows how to deal with it. The country makes a net profit on European migrants but a net loss on most others. They created a multi-cultural society, in effect creating single race ghettos, when what was needed was an inter-cultural society when everyone takes pieces of each other’s culture and society benefits. We have a massive shortage of both social and affordable housing, people blame immigrants for it. Whilst it may be true that people coming to the country with families may get housed quicker, this isn’t the reason for the shortage. If when the public housing was sold off, the money had been reinvested into the building of new homes there would be plenty of properties for everyone and rents would be cheaper and “buy to lets” would be less attractive.
Do you fit into the anarcho punk genre or not?
I don’t think we do fit into that genre, we are just 3 guys having fun making music and making social comments, we have no agenda as such. At the end of the day I will support anyone who ends poverty and increases the standard of life for the most vulnerable, which happens to be the majority of the people.
We talked about subcultures being lost the other day. Would you agree that people are being squashed into conforming or is there still room for rebellion? Is big air played music these days associated with fashion, in your opinion?
There are so few people into subculture scenes nowadays, because it doesn’t get mass exposure, people are happy to accept lowest common denominator and are brainwashed into thinking it’s amazing and takes an enormous amount of talent. Even the songwriters that create the songs for the manufactured stars are not particularly talented, they are just formulaic. 97% of all tunes on Radio 1’s daytime schedule are on three labels, nothing else is allowed to get through. I find it all very depressing.
With such things as the Punk London celebrations and the imminent release of the film SLC Punk 2, 2016 should be the year of alternative fashion and alternative DIY music? Or does anyone even care?
As we left Reading Festival last year, I was saying to my agent mate Steve, how awesome would it be if they had The Pistols headline the Sunday this year and a tent of old punk bands all weekend, no chance of that. I’m very doubtful that this year’s celebrations will inspire many to become punks, more likely it will just emphasise the fact that most parents have better music taste than their children.
What’s your relationship with Supersonic Media and what is Supersonic Media?
Supersonic Media is a record label and publishing company, I do A&R, we release records we feel we can bring some value to regardless of genre. We promote the acts to radio, magazines etc and pitch their tunes to films etc, we do very artist friendly deals and do our best for our artists.
What’s your plans for 2016?
We are releasing our new album “Anti-Social Network” on March 11th, and following the success of our recent single “Empire” which amazingly made #2 on the Official European Indie Chart, we will release several further singles. We are hoping to tour at some point this year. We’ve never toured as CAA J our guitarist was in Caffeine and toured with The Offspring, AFI, The Dickies etc, Paul was in The Marionettes and has played many big shows with them, so it’s about time we left my house and got round the country. We’d also like to play some festivals this summer; we played Kendal Calling and Guilfest a couple of year ago and had a great time. 🙂