THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH CANCEL THE ASTRONAUTS
Oh how funny we are… You hear a new band called Cancel The Astronauts and you shout it out that they’re as good as The Yummy Fur and then you discover that they never have heard from them. I guess it’s the curse of the pigeonholing ghost in me, but how do I have to explain you how an unsigned band are sounding like? That’s also a curse… But no wait, these lads from Edinburgh found something. They put their EP “I’m the president of your fanclub” for free on the net, so you can decide yourself. If you care about intelligent indiepop (whatever that might be) you already should be on their My Space-page and having the EP launched in your bedroom, something like an astronaut would do…. I was always proud of my vivid imagination, but this is now about the imagination from some talented guys….
HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?
M: Hello. We are Cancel the Astronauts and we are a pop band from Edinburgh, although we are slowly getting less pop, and a bit more ‘indie’, whatever that means.
K: Slightly sinister synthy-indie guitar-pop. Is what I’m saying.
LET’S START WITH A VERY STUPID QUESTION….WHY NAME YOURSELF CANCEL THE ASTRONAUTS?
M: No no, that’s a very good question. Our old bass player used to want to be an astronaut, when he was little, but he wasn’t able to become one because of his short-sightedness. Also, The United Kingdom has a rather limited space program. He is now a deep-sea diver for a large oil company, and he repairs rigs in the North Sea. I think that’s pretty close to being an astronaut. After all, being underwater is sort of like being in space, and it doesn’t matter if you’re short-sighted, because it’s very blurry. He used to get very animated whenever space was talked about, and would shout “Cancel the Astronauts!” at the wireless when space missions where mentioned on Radio 2. We liked it and kept it.
K: That answer contained so many facts it’s almost unbelievable.
I REVIEWED YOU AS A MIXTURE FROM THE YUMMY FUR AND HEFNER, CAN YOU LIVE WITH THAT?
M: You know, I’ve never listened to Hefner. Are they any good? I’ve never even heard of Yummy Fur. Makes me think of sugared kittens. I would describe us as ‘the disco Smiths’, but that’s a dream rather than reality. My favourite bands are The Lightning Seeds, The Divine Comedy, Pulp and other Brit-pop classicists, and I suppose we sound a bit like them all. We’re getting a bit less poppy though now.
K: Our bass player, Neil, likes Hefner. He had one of their albums on cassette lying in his car, before he sold it. The car, that is. Doubt the cassette was worth much; it looked like it was taped off the radio. M: Cassette’s are very old. That shows how old our bassist is. Our bassist is old. K: Indeed. We never listened to it though ‘cos he had Alan Partridge off the radio as well, but, through the wonders of modern computers, I’m listening to Hefner now. They’re really good. I can live with it. I have to admit I’m not cool enough to have heard or even heard of The Yummy Fur.
Neil: I am very old.
WE CAN STATE THAT YOU’RE ANOTHER BAND FROM EDINBURGH AND I SAY THAT WITH A HUGE RESPECT…BUT EXCELLENT INDIEPOP AND EDINBURGH SEEMS TO GO HAND IN HAND. WHY IS THAT YOU THINK?
M: There are indeed some fantastic indiepop bands in and around Edinburgh at the moment. I’m thinking of Come on Gang! and Kid Canaveral in particular. Both fantastic pop acts. It’s a bit disingenuous to call us all Edinburgh bands though. Come on Gang! formed in Edinburgh but none of them are Scottish; some of Kid Canaveral are from Fife, I think, and none of us are from Edinburgh. It’s inevitable I suppose that bands that form somewhere get called a band from that place though, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it all. It’s a big city, so it’s bound to have lots of bands, and people will gravitate towards it. Particularly now, as there is such a vibrant music scene in the capital (and Scotland as a whole really) at the moment. There’s a good DIT (Do It Together) spirit in the city (to steal a phrase from Withered Hand I think) and a great deal of self confidence among music makers here, so that’s probably why Edinburgh produces do much great music.
THERE ARE TIMES OVER HERE THAT THEY PUT SOMETHING IN THE WATER FROM EDINBURGH…..OR NOT??????
M: If they’re putting anything in the water then I’d like to know about it. It might be whisky. But I’d prefer some milk.
YOUR GREAT EP “I’M THE PRESIDENT OF YOUR FANCLUB” HAS BEEN RELEASED AS A FREE DOWNLOAD. WHY?
M: Well, we’ve sold/given away/used as coasters all the physical copies we had, it’s been out for a while, and we’ve got a new EP coming out in the next two months or so. It felt like a good way to get a bit more exposure. People like free things. It’s been downloaded a lot for free off Bandcamp, so it’s working, which is nice. At our level, it’s more important that people hear the music rather than we make a bit of money. We’ve all got jobs, so we don’t need the cash, and the amount we’re talking about it so small as to be almost insignificant.
K: I might be talking out the top of my hat here, but I think we’ve ‘sold’ round about the same number of free downloads of the EP in the last week or so than we have in the last year of having it on itunes. It’s certainly not far off.
M: That’s a nice hat.
MOST OF THE TIMES, FREE DOWNLOADS AREN’T WORTH INTERESTING TO HEAR AT ALL, BUT YOUR EP IS A GREAT EXCEPTION. AREN’T YOU AFRAID THAT IT WILL LOST ITS WORTH JUST BECAUSE IT IS A FREE DOWNLOAD?
M: That was actually something that we discussed. We were slightly worried that, as you say, giving away the music might somehow demean it, or make it valueless. But then who’s to say that 79p for a track off iTunes, or five pounds for a CD is a fair reflection of the music’s value? I think the worth of a song or an album is really measured by how many people want it, and how many people keep wanting it. Giving it away for free is just a method of getting it out to the widest possible audience. I consider it an investment for the future; someone who gets it for free today might become a fan for life, and that sort of relationship is worth much more to us (I don’t just mean monetary worth) than a couple of pounds. Our music is good, and no amount of money will change that.
K: It’s a difficult one to be sure, and I can see the logic to both sides, but I suppose it depends on a given bands’ situation -- for us, I suppose, a song that no one has downloaded or listened to has less worth than a song that was downloaded for free and listened to once or twice or, perhaps, just maybe, played all the time and -- who knows? -- possibly even loved. And, as Matty says, we’re making bum all money either way. Hurrah!
M: What sort of hat is it?
IN FACT, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AS IT IS TODAY?
M: I don’t have much of an opinion on it really. We don’t feel like part of the industry because we’re not part of it. Certainly there’s an awful lot of rubbish out there, probably because it’s safe for labels to spend money on music that they know will sell, regardless of its artistic value. At the same time, it’s economically viable now for bands to record and release their own music. We recorded our first EP for free because Chris, our drummer, has all the necessary technology. It cost less than £500 to have 500 copies of the CD made. Hence the glut of self released singles and albums, and the explosion the number of truly independent record labels over the passed few years.
K: … which is really exciting, I think. Nuts to music industry! That’s what I say! Also, the hat is a trilby.
HOW DIFFICULT IT MIGHT BE TO ANSWER….WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR MUSIC?
M: I’d like to be able to quit my job and be a full-time musician. I could do that now of course, but I hope there will come a point where we’d need to do that to really progress as a band. Having said that we’re not part of the established music industry, I would still very much like to be part of it. I think being signed to a major label, or a successful independent label, is really the only way to make a life out of it. Perhaps I’m wrong though.
K: I would like to take this moment to apologise to the music industry for my earlier comment. Sorry.
M: Where could I get a hat like that?
CONFESS US SOMETHING….WHAT’S THE MOST ROCK ‘N ROLL-THING YOU DID IN YOUR LIFE?
K: Looked up regicide.
LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
M: Right now it’s Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit. The honesty, emotion, energy and beauty of that record almost literally makes my heart skip a beat every time I play it. My favourite band is The Smiths, but my favourite albums are Different Class by Pulp and Midnight Organ Fight.
K: Probably OK Computer for me, boringly enough. But I am partial to The Midnight Organ Fight too. And Mend by De Rosa. And Rounds by Four Tet. And A Brighter Beat by Malcolm Middleton. And Asleep In The Back by Elbow. And Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. And… I’ll stop now. You could get a hat like this in almost any hat shop.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
M: Cheryl Tweedy. I would have lots of sex with her. 8 hours worth in fact.
K: Oh dear.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM CANCEL THE ASTRONAUTS IN THE FUTURE?
M: We are close to the verge of almost imminently nearly finishing our next EP, called ‘Funny For a Girl’. I’ll send you a copy. We have already started writing an album, which is sounding fantastic. The album will be less pop I think. Less immediate, but a bit more sophisticated and interesting. I’m very excited about it because I think it will deserve to do very well indeed. That won’t be out until next year though.
DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS?
M: Download our last EP, buy our next one, listen to Pulp and Frightened Rabbit, and try not to get stuck in a lift with me.