Interview with Young Astronaut

I had the chance to interview the lovely Chris, Niko and Paul from the brilliant Young Astronaut, a Bournemouth based acoustic-indie-folk band. I suggest you check out their debut album, ‘Fawn’ via the Soundcloud widget below while you read the interview. You can also download the album for free from the bands website.

Louder Than War: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Chris: I get my inspiration from artists like Elliot Smith and bands like The Gaslight Anthem, bands with a punky, rockier side, and more acoustic stuff. I like a band called ‘Say Something Lyrically’. I like how they write their lyrics.

Niko: I get my inspiration for writing the drum parts from Chris Bear from Grizzly Bear. He’s got some very creative beats going on, so I try and make the beats as creative as possible, not to fall into the standard drummer category.

Paul: When I listen to bassists I don’t really listen to the genre we play. I listen to jazzier bassists but I don’t play like them at all. Bass wise, I just kinda follow the guitars and see what happens really.

Louder Than War: What’s the best thing about being in a band?

Chris: When we wrote and recorded the album, we had no interest from anyone because we hadn’t really written anything yet, so no-one had really listened to us. Then it was amazing seeing not only our friends like our music, but going into venues and seeing people I’ve never met genuinely enjoying our music, and sending it to other people and stuff. That to me is a huge compliment. It’s an incredible thing.

Niko: Doing things you wouldn’t usually do and having the opportunity like this to do things that people would say you’d never be able to do. That’s very rewarding, very nice.

Paul: Playing live and facing the crowd.

Louder Than War: What about the worst/ most difficult thing?

Chris: basically, there’s a lot of admin stuff involved in being in the band. A lot of the time I’d prefer to just be writing or working on material with the band but there are always loads of other things we’ve got to do, like booking tours which aren’t very well booked, or promoters who aren’t as good as other promoters or just don’t treat the bands as fairly. That’s always difficult. And getting everything organised and just being in band is… it’s difficult to explain… when we’re all working it’s harder to be a band, when we all have other commitments, but for us it’s one of the most important things so we always make the time for it. We also kind of have a geographical issue, but that’s good in some ways, as we have time apart and we reflect and come back with fresh ideas which is nice.

Louder Than War: If you weren’t in a band, what else would you do?

Chris: Probably recording bands and making records. Or surfing. Or planning to take over the universe.

Paul: Yeah, I’d get involved with that sure.

Niko: We’d all form a group to take over the world!

Louder Than War: How important do you think image is to music?

Chris: We have quite a lot of graphic design involved with our band. I think it is actually quite important because if I saw someone’s album with a really terrible photograph of the band and a comic sans written title I’d be less inclined to listen to the band. We put quite a lot of effort into our appearance, not in a professional way, but in a way where we don’t come across as a local band that make CDs in their garage. We want to come across on the same level as bigger bands. I think it’s actually quite an important thing for bands to have a good image. It might spark interest where you think it’s not necessarily going to spark interest. For instance, if we were giving out flyers to people at a gig, and we had a terrible black and white printed flyer of a band up against a wall, people wouldn’t really wanna listen, well they might do, but I’d be less inclined to. Whereas we like to have a really nice illustration, our web address, and our logo. So it’s quite simple, but it is important. Not as important as the music though.

Louder Than War: What do you think makes a great song?

Chris: Considering all the different parts of the song. Even if that means that it’s a simple song, making sure that every part is as good as it can be. It’s important not to rush it, and to also have time to reflect on it and come back to it. Obviously everyone has different interpretations of ‘good’, but personally, for us, I think if we’re all happy with each of our parts, then it’s a good indication that other people will probably like the song too.

Niko: I think if other people are enjoying it too then that’s a good sign.

Louder Than War: What about a great album?

Chris: Hmm that’s trickier. Pete’s answer (Pete is the fourth band member, who couldn’t be with us today) to this would be it’s important for an album not to appear as a collection of songs but as a kinda piece.

Paul: It’s not a collection of singles.

Chris: Yeah. A lot of the bands I listen to have albums which a lot of people might think sounds the same the whole way through, but at the same time it’s got intricate and unique parts which you start to find out over time. For a full album, it’s important that every single song is good, and that there are no filler tracks and that it’s as good as it can be and you haven’t rushed into it and recorded it terribly.

Niko: I notice when people listen to the album, their favourite song seems to change all the time. I think that makes a good album, that there isn’t one specific song that stands out among all of them, and the more you listen the more that you appreciate other songs, so that people can appreciate it as one thing, rather than a collection of things.

Louder Than War: What’s your favourite song you’ve written and why?

Paul: Changes all the time.

Niko: Depends on your mood.

Chris: I think it’s different when you’re in the band, because you have a different view on the songs to everyone else. If you write a song with a particular subject matter which the listener has a connection to, then they will have that. I like ‘Dust’ because I like the way that it sounds live. It’s really fun to play because it’s quite a fast song. It’s always been one of my favourites.

Niko: I’d say my favourite song is ‘The Artist & The Villain’ because of the middle instrumental bit and then the lyrical splurge at the end.

Paul: There’s good dynamics there.

My personal favourite track is ‘Sugar Is Sweeter Than Gold’. It is a fantastic album so have a listen now!

Young Astronaut have their own website & are on Facebook & Twitter.

All words by Roisin Kelleher. You can read more of Roisin’s work on Louder Than War here. Roisin is on twitter as @RoisinLKelleher

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Music has always been a passion, obviously. My favourites at the moment are Bela Takes Chase, Ali Ingle, and Ninth Paradise, but these are only a bare few of the many great talents out there today. Today’s music scene has a tendency to be chastised, but I have full faith in a lot of flourishing artists emerging right now and my main purpose when writing is to share these with the world!


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